Washington Redskins schedule analysis
Breakdown: The questions about Robert Griffin III and his recovery from offseason knee surgery wasn't enough to deter the NFL and ESPN from scheduling the Washington Redskins for a "Monday Night Football" matchup in Week 1 against the division-rival Philadelphia Eagles. (That's an early-starting 7:10 p.m. ET Monday game, by the way, since there are two that night.) But the defending division champions' other four prime-time games don't come until after their Week 5 bye. The Redskins play at Dallas on Sunday night in Week 6, at Minnesota on Thursday night in Week 10 (in the ACL Bowl between Griffin and Adrian Peterson), host the defending NFC champion 49ers on "Monday Night Football" in Week 12 and then host the Giants on a Sunday night in Week 13.
The early bye week has to be viewed as a benefit by a team whose starting quarterback is recovering from major surgery. Even if Griffin is ready to return prior to Week 5, it'll be helpful for him to get a chance to rest his legs so early in the season. And if his recovery is still in progress in September and early October, it'll be helpful for the Redskins to get a week off while he's still working his way back.
There's only one time all season when the Redskins are scheduled to play road games in successive weeks. Even that comes with a helper, as they have 10 days between their Week 10 Thursday night game in Minnesota and their Week 11 Sunday game in Philadelphia.
Outdoor road games in Green Bay and Denver come early in the year, and the only outdoor road game the Redskins play in December is the Week 17 finale against the Giants.
The Week 8 game in Denver will be former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan's first game in Denver since becoming Redskins head coach prior to the 2010 season.
Complaint department: The stretch coming out of that Week 5 bye isn't super-fun, with four of six games on the road. Their first game out of the bye is a division title game rematch against the Cowboys in Dallas. Then they go home to play the Bears, on the road to Denver, home to play the Chargers and then play at Minnesota and Philadelphia in Weeks 10 and 11. The Minnesota trip comes on a short week, as it's a Thursday night game four days after the home game against San Diego.
Head-to-head: If the Redskins are going to defend their division title, they're going to get a chance to handle their closest division rivals themselves at the most crucial time of the year. Three of Washington's five December games are division games -- two against the Giants and one against the Cowboys. They host the Giants in Week 13 and the Cowboys in Week 16, then travel to play the Giants in New Jersey for the Week 17 season finale.
Redskins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 9, Philadelphia, 7 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, at Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Oakland, 4:25 p.m.
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, San Diego, 1 p.m.
Week 10: Thursday, Nov. 7, at Minnesota, 8:25 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 25, San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, NY Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Dallas, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, at NY Giants, 1 p.m.