WASHINGTON — The Redskins schedule is out and there are some difficult matchups scattered throughout the 2017 season.
Aside from the six annual NFC East games – arguably the toughest division in football last year – Washington plays at Seattle and Kansas City. The Seahawks are 41-7 at home since a Nov. 27, 2011 loss to the Redskins. The Chiefs are 18-6 over their last 24 home games at Arrowhead Stadium.
It’s tough to imagine the Redskins winning in either venue. They also host Oakland, which made the playoffs last season, and Denver and Arizona, who were in the year before and combined for 16 victories last season. Needless to say, Washington needs to take care of business against the teams it should beat. Here are the five likeliest wins on a tough schedule:
Oct. 15 – SAN FRANCISCO (1pm, FOX)
Absolutely can’t lose this one. Former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will have plenty of motivation. Dan Snyder fired him and his father, Mike, in 2013 after all. But San Francisco doesn’t have the players yet. It went 2-14 last season. Even with the No. 2 overall draft pick and adding former Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon to the mix, it will take time for Shanahan to get that team where he wants it. Six games into his tenure isn’t enough time. The 49ers were feisty at the end of last season so Washington can’t assume anything. In the end, though, talent wins out.
Dec. 10 – at Los Angeles Chargers (4:05 p.m., CBS)
This will be one of the weirdest road games in NFL history. The Chargers spent one year in Los Angeles and the next 46 in San Diego. People in San Diego HATE Los Angeles. The idea of their beloved Chargers playing there has to be nauseating. So don’t expect a ton of long-time fans to keep ties with them. But Los Angeles had the now-returned Rams for 50 years and the Raiders have a big fan base there still, too. After 20-plus years without an NFL team at all – and all the bandwagon jumping that allows – its possible the Chargers are the 15th most popular team in their own city. Add to that they will play two seasons in a 28,000-seat MLS stadium and this isn’t exactly a home-field advantage to brag about. The Chargers also won five games last year. The Redskins will win this one.
Sept. 17 – at Los Angeles Rams (4:25 p.m., FOX)
Another old friend makes an appearance. If it seems like Sean McVay just left, well…he did. McVay took the Rams job in January and will face his former team in Week 2. This one is a bit tougher because Los Angeles has more established players than the 49ers do and it’s on the road. But the Rams won just four games last season. It’s not exactly a group ready to contend for anything and second-year quarterback Jared Goff has a lot to prove. Seven of Washington’s home games are against teams that won seven or more games in 2016 and three of them (Dallas, New York Giants, Oakland) made the playoffs. Three others (Minnesota, Arizona) made the postseason the year before or just won the Super Bowl outright (Denver). The road is where they can make some hay.
Nov. 19 – At New Orleans (1 p.m., FOX)
Weird to list three road games as a team’s five easiest bets for victories. The Saints also won seven games in 2016 so they aren’t a total pushover. Drew Brees is still capable of putting up points and defense is not exactly a Redskins’ strength right now. Still – how will New Orleans stop Washington’s offense? This has the makings of a 40-30 game, but it’s one that should go the Redskins’ way. They stomped the Saints at FedEx Field two years ago, 47-14, on their way to the playoffs. The Superdome can be loud, but the Redskins won here in 2012, too, in Robert Griffin III’s first game.
Nov. 12 – MINNESOTA (1 p.m., FOX)
These are the games that can define a season. The Vikings shook off a devastating injury to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last season and managed to win eight games anyway. They are just two years removed from an NFC North title and a playoff berth. It’s likely they’ll be in the mix for an NFC wild-card berth again – if not really a contender for much more than that. But the Redskins are at home and can’t afford to drop a game like this to a conference rival. Minnesota isn’t an easy mark. But given the rest of the home slate, this is one Washington probably has to have if it wants to be a playoff team in 2017.
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