The Redskins’ annual twin dramas — their quarterbacks and their front office — will get all the national exposure they could want with their regular-season schedule in 2017. Kirk Cousins, Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden, whoever ends up replacing the exiled Scot McCloughan, are on primetime five times, early and late, and managed to land across the river from Times Square on New Year’s Eve to end the season.
That’s a lot to put on a team that barely finished above .500, 8-7-1, last season. But Washington, especially their franchised quarterback playing for his mega-contract and possibly entering his final season in town, have a chance to not only entertain the country often, but challenge the Cowboys and Giants for the NFC East title again.
Redskins schedule 2017
Eagles, at L.A. Rams, Raiders
Washington goes west early, in Week 2 to L.A., then faces a contending team on a Sunday night at home against Raiders. Scary stat of the month: They are 6-20 in primetime at home since 2008.
at Chiefs, Bye, 49ers, at Eagles, Cowboys
An early bye, in Week 5, isn’t necessarily desired by most teams. The division schedule heats up with trips to Philadelphia and a home game against a Cowboys team they lost a heartbreaker to at home early last year.
at Seahawks, Vikings, at Saints, Giants, at Cowboys
Second of three West Coast trips, then a challenging stretch: at New Orelans, their first-ever Thanksgiving home game against the Giants, then another Thursday-nighter a week later in Dallas.
at L.A. Chargers, Cardinals, Broncos, at Giants
The break after the Thursday game will help with their last West Coast trip, but by this time the early bye might be taking its toll. Two tough home games precede the finale against the Giants at the Meadowlands.
Redskins schedule 2017, record prediction: 8-8
The NFC East got a lot tougher since Washington’s last division title, in 2015, and there’s no real proof that they kept pace. They’ll find out soon enough with that opener at home against the Eagles, in Year 2 of the Pederson/Wentz era. Never mind chasing down the Cowboys and Giants, both playoff teams last year; they need to stay ahead of Philadelphia.
Whatever happens, everything will revolve around Cousins, who already has lost two crucial targets in free agency with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. He also has to break in new threats in Terrelle Pryor and oft-injured, second-year receiver Josh Doctson. The defense has to take a major leap. If it can’t, Washington will be fighting to keep out of the cellar.