Are the Washington Redskins headed for 8-8 this fall?
It looks like they're headed for a 3-1 start, a three-game losing streak at midseason and a 2-3 mark in prime time after a first look at the schedule.
The NFL must be listening to Dr. James Andrews, who says quarterback Robert Griffin III is healing at a record rate. Washington will host Philadelphia in the "Monday Night Football" opener on Sept. 9 and then will travel to Green Bay six days later. No way the NFL risks its Monday opener on backup Kirk Cousins.
Picking wins and losses nearly five months before the season starts is like picking lottery numbers. Still, it's a time-honored offseason tradition.
Washington will beat Philadelphia in the opener but fall to Green Bay the next week. At least the Redskins won't get frostbite playing at Lambeau Field in December. Still, it gets nippy in upper Wisconsin after the Fourth of July. Having once endured minus-22 degrees for a playoff game, Green Bay seems like the last stop before the North Pole. Indeed, homes around Lambeau make Lombardi Trophy figures instead of snowmen.
Washington then will defeat Detroit and Oakland to go to 3-1 entering the Week 5 bye. Wait, haven't we seen this before? The bye might seem early, but there's never a perfect time for a break. It all depends on the team's health.
The extra rest won't help the Redskins, though. Washington will return to lose at Dallas and against Chicago to drop to 3-3. Suddenly all eyes will shift to the Washington Nationals, who are hopefully in the World Series, but fans will snap back Oct. 27 when Redskins coach Mike Shanahan returns to Denver. He will depart with a victory and then beat San Diego to get to 5-3.
The Redskins don't play on Thanksgiving this year, but they get a Thursday night game at Minnesota. Sadly, it will be a loss followed by another defeat at Philadelphia. Back to 5-5.
Now it gets interesting. The Redskins will host the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 25 for their second Monday nighter and welcome the New York Giants six nights later. Save two vacation days if you're going to the games; you will be getting home from FedExField at 2 a.m. Washington will lose to San Francisco but beat New York to get to 6-6.
The Redskins then will beat perhaps the easiest team on their schedule in a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 8. But Washington will lose at Atlanta to fall to 7-7.
Crunch time now -- win two or go home. Washington will beat Dallas in Week 16 to set up the John Mara Revenge Bowl in the season finale. It probably will be for the NFC East title. Redskins fans would love to knock off the Giants after Mara, the Giants' co-owner, led the salary cap sanction against Washington. Preventing the Giants from having a chance to play in the Super Bowl in New York would be even sweeter.
Unfortunately, New York will get the win. That will end the season, but at least there's no salary cap penalty for the coming offseason.
And nobody wins the offseason like the Redskins when they have cap space.