Analysis: Redskins' schedule presents plenty of challenges

Ben Krimmel
May 07, 2020 - 10:00 pm

So... how does it look?

The 2020 Redskins schedule is officially out and in Ron Rivera's first year as head coach, it will be tough sledding from the jump.

If the season starts as planned, the Redskins will get a mid-season bye week for the second time in as many years. However, they will not be on primetime for the first time since the 1982 season, per The Washington Post. This means the Redskins will have to wait another year to get their first win on Monday Night Football since the 2014 season. But that doesn't mean there aren't some juicy matchups to get excited about.

We'll break the schedule "analysis" into four-game stretches to see which games to watch out for and determine how well the Redskins will perform in the 2020 NFL Season.

Week 1 -  vs. Philadelphia 

Week 2 - @ Arizona

Week 3 - @ Cleveland 

Week 4 - vs. Baltimore

For the second season in a row, the Redskins will open up against the Eagles, this time at FedEx Field. While the lack of scoring was a major concern for Washington in 2019, the Redskins' defense will be put to the test early in back-to-back road games against two former No. 1 overall picks: Kyler Murray, who had a fine rookie season, and Baker Mayfield, who surely can't be as bad in year three as he was in year two.

And things don't get any easier as Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP, and the Baltimore Ravens coming to Landover. (A matchup Washington's top draft pick can't wait for.) The Ravens, fresh off a 14-2 season in which they put up 531 points, will be the toughest test for the Redskins' revamped defense under Rivera and new DC Jack Del Rio (who won a Super Bowl as a coach with Baltimore in 2000) in the early goings. And all of the sudden, any early-season optimism could be crushed under the weight of a depressing early-season slump for the second year running. On the plus side, since football returned to Baltimore in 1996, the series is tied at 3-3 and the Redskins have won the last two games against the Ravens. 

Week 5 - vs. Los Angeles Rams

Week 6 - @ New York Giants

Week 7 - vs. Dallas

Week 8 - BYE WEEK

Week 9 - vs. New York Giants

Well, if the Redskins' season is off to a poor start, the fifth game will not be fun: Sean McVay's return to Washington will certainly be billed as the One Who Got Away Bowl. McVay, who made the Super Bowl with the Rams two seasons ago, was with the Redskins organization for six seasons, including three as offensive coordinator under Jay Gruden. And while Baltimore's offense will challenge the Redskins with speed and power, McVay's will challenge them with a dynamic scheme. It could be a long day if the McVay is in the mood for vengeance against his former employer. That depends on how much pressure the home side can generate against Jared Goff.

While this stretch includes the first matchup against the Cowboys and their new head coach Mike McCarthy, the two games against the G-Men are the most crucial. And they have definitely been circled by Washington's second-year quarterback. After an overtime loss to the Giants in Dec. 2019, Dwayne Haskins, the 15th pick in the 2019 Draft, will be looking to get one over on Daniel Jones, the 6th pick that season. Bottom line: These three divisional games over a four-week span will likely determine if the Redskins are playoff contenders or looking at another high draft pick.

Week 10 - @ Detroit

Week 11 - vs. Cincinnati

Week 12 - @ Dallas

Week 13 - @ Pittsburgh

After the schedule makers rewarded Washington with just one road game over a 41-day period, the Redskins will have to be road warriors in the second half of the season as five of their final eight contests will be outside the DMV. And this includes a brutal stretch of back-to-back-to-back road trips starting with a Thanksgiving visit to the Cowboys. The Redskins are looking to improve upon their 3-8 record on Turkey Day and grab their first win in Dallas on the holiday since 2012. 

Aside from the date with Dallas, the game to circle: Nov. 22 at FedEx Field when the No. 1 overall pick Joe Burrow will face off against No. 2 overall pick Chase Young. Before the draft, a handful of draft analysts said Young was the most talented player in the class, and Redskins fans would love to see him dethrone Cinci's 'Tiger King.'

While must-win is an overused term that means little, the Lions and Bengals combined for five wins last season and both have inexperienced head coaches. Rivera and the Redskins can't afford to lose either game if they hope to have any momentum in December.

Week 14 - @ San Francisco

Week 15 - vs. Seattle

Week 16 - vs. Carolina

Week 17 - @ Philadelphia

Well, if the Redskins' season is going really poorly, a visit to Kyle Shanahan and the reigning NFC champion 49ers on Dec. 13 will not be fun. (Get ready for the One Who Got Away Bowl II.) This will be another big test for the Redskins, a young team with a young quarterback, as they face a brutal stretch against four veteran teams and three Super Bowl-winning head coaches and Shanahan fresh off a Super Bowl trip.

Of course, no matter how well the Redskins season is going, you better believe they will have some fire for the final home game Dec. 27 against the Panthers. Rivera is surely not going to let his former team (the organization who kicked him to the curb last season) waltz into FedEx for a late-season victory. And if the Redskins have something to play for, the season finale puts them in Philadelphia, possibly with a shot at the playoffs on the line.

Could an 8-8 record earn the Redskins one of the NFC's seven playoff spots? Maybe, but it will take a great deal of good fortune. (It always does.) 

But how tough is this schedule overall? Per Sharp Football Stats, the Redskins will have the 25th easiest schedule based on Vegas forecasted 2020 season win totals.

For the other NFC East teams, the Cowboys have the softest schedule (9th easiest in the NFL), the Eagles' road will be tougher (19th overall), and the Giants have the toughest schedule among the division (31st in all of football).

Of course, not everyone sees it that way. Sports analytics site TruMedia believes the Redskins will have an easier schedule overall, but the toughest among NFC East teams. 

Of course, a lot still has to happen around the nation before the season can begin. COVID-19 could delay the start or keep fans from attending, but in the world of the National Football League, the Redskins will play in just 129 days. 

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