ASHBURN – Many writers presented their predictions at the time the 2012 schedules were released earlier this summer. I thought about following suit, but instead chose to test my patience until the ‘Skins set their final 53-man roster – announced last week. So, let us take a look at how the Redskins fair this season.
Week 1: @New Orléans Saints
Last year this match-up would have been an automatic loss.
However, Washington now has a young, productive rushing attack and a legitimate arsenal of weapons for Robert Griffin III to target at every branch on the route tree. Yes, Brees’ experience trumps RGIII but that may actually benefit Washington. The Saints’ ‘D’ has no idea what Griffin will do in this game, so how does the DC game-plan against him? Redskins pull out a late victory, 24-21. W (1-0)
Week 2: @Saint Louis Rams
Starting the season two straight weeks on the road could cause problems but Washington will beat the Rams.
Saint Louis has embarrassed the Redskins in recent years but Griffin will have his first 300-yard performance in this match-up. The Ram defense cannot handle the Redskins’ ground game and Morris and Royster pound the rock down its throat for 150-plus yards: 31-17. W (2-0)
Week 3: Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton will expose an average Redskin secondary and hand Washington its first loss of the season. The ‘Skins, spent after two away games, will show up overconfident versus the Bengals and lose a winnable game: 10-24. L (2-1)
Week 4: @Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Regardless of record, the Redskins always play to the level of the Buccaneers every single year. And yes, the Redskins play Tampa Bay every single year – you would think the NFC South was merging with the East. It will once again boil down to who wants it more in the 4th quarter: Washington wins 20-17. W (3-1)
Week 5: Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons will win the NFC South and the Super Bowl this season (see bottom page.) The Redskins cannot handle this well-balanced offense – Julio Jones goes over 100 yards and Tony Gonzales scores twice. There is no shame in losing to Atlanta this season, who will hand Washington its second loss of the season: 35-20. L (3-2)
Week 6: Minnesota Vikings
RGIII will have his second 300-yard day against a weak Viking secondary. Pierre Garcon goes over 100 yards and scores twice. Redskins Nation celebrates the official inauguration of the ‘Griffin to Garcon Connection.’ The Washington defense has a field day with Christian Ponder in its fourth win of the year: 41-24. W (4-2)
Week 7: @New York Giants
Robert Griffin has a rough day as JPP welcomes him to the NFC East. Eli manning finishes off the Skins early in this one, unfortunately. Washington’s secondary absolutely must improve for the team to defeat the top NFC teams. It’s a blowout: 38-17. L (4-3)
Week 8: @Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger does not worry me as much as that Steeler defense does. Griffin struggles with third and long all afternoon without a successful rushing attack – the trio just won’t break through that front seven. Redskins drop to .500 halfway through the season: 24-13. L (4-4)
Week 9: Carolina Panthers
After losing three straight weeks and four out of the last five, the ‘Skins head into the bye week with a winning record. The two young QB phenoms air-it-out equally, but Washington edges the Panthers in OT: 27-20. W (5-4)
*Week 10: BYE*
Week 11: Philadelphia Eagles
Washington plays three NFC East opponents in-a-row after the bye, and five division opponents in their last seven games of the 2012 season. Washington wins just two more games this year and this Eagles’ game is not one of them. Vick defeats the Redskins, 17-16. L (5-5)
Week 12: @Dallas Cowboys
The ‘Skins usually play well in Dallas and will again this year. Griffin and company win their first and only NFC East match-up of the year. I will receive a ton of hate for this, but just think of it as growing pains for a Washington Redskins team that will be much stronger and contend over the following five to 10 years. Enjoy this victory; 31-21. W (6-5)
Week 13: New York Giants
Shanahan got his sweep last year over the G-Men but Tom Coughlin gets his in 2012 over the Redskins… and Cowboys. RGIII will have a much stronger showing in this second meeting than earlier in the season. However, Eli’s experience and weapons on the outside edge Washington, 28-24. L (6-6)
Week 14: Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco is the most underrated quarterback in the NFL, while Ray Rice may be the best running back. Now they have Bobby Rainy backing Rice up and he looked great in the preseason. Wash8ington’s ‘Three-Headed-Monster’ will put up 100-plus yards but it will not be enough. The Redskins put up a heck of a fight but Ravens come out on top, 17-13. L (6-7)
Week 15: @Cleveland Browns
Griffin will have his best game of the year against the Browns – 350 yards/3TDs – and the Redskins rush for 200 yards. The defense dominates and Banks runs one back for his third TD return of the season. The only negative – this is Washington’s last win of the 2012 season: 38-13. W (7-7)
Week 16: @Philadelphia Eagles
Garcon has a big day at The Link and leads the Redskins in a tough battle with Philly. But Washington plays a bit overconfident coming off the big win at Cleveland. Shady McCoy has a field day with screen passes out of the backfield to help the Eagles defeat the ‘Skins for the second time: 31-30. L (7-8)
Week 17: Dallas Cowboys
Although the Cowboys sweep Washington this year, they do not make the playoffs either. Redskins nation can feel satisfied that Jones will fire Dallas’ coaching staff because of this and his team spirals out of control next year as well. Be patient… this should be the last game Washington loses to Dallas for quite some time. This day however, Jerry Jones gets the win: 17-16. L (7-9)
Yes, this looks bleak and not much better than the 2010-11 seasons but the team will perform much better throughout the year. The Redskins just drew a very difficult schedule for a 5-11 team. However, Mike Shanahan will add more depth to the offensive line and improve the secondary via the draft and free agency in the 2013 offseason. Washington will reach the playoffs next season – igniting a future filled with success and solidifying the Redskins as a winning franchise once again.
NOTE: My Super Bowl pick: Atlanta vs. Buffalo – Falcons win 34-17.
-Todd C. Smith
You can reach Todd Smith on Twitter @tcsmitty