The 2008 schedule for the Washington Redskins was announced yesterday and, as usual, there are some quirks in it that are worth discussion.
In case you don't have it handy, here it is:
9/4 @NYG ThNF
9/28 @DAl 4:15
10/5 @ PHL
11/2 PIT MNF
11/16 DAL SNF
11/23 @ SEA
12/7 @ BLT
12/14 @ CIN
The first thing that always catches my eye when I take an initial glance at a schedule is the distribution of the @'s. Are the road games clumped together or are the home and road games alternated for the most part?
What we see here is clumps of road games. Three out of the first five and three of the last four are away from FedEx Field. Those three road games in the early going are all against the team's division rivals, the Giants, Eagles, and Cowboys. Jim Zorn is going to have to hit the ground running.
The key in that stretch of the season is the home games against the Saints and Cardinals. Both of those teams are with the Redskins in the muddled middle of the NFL. If the Skins can take those two games then getting a win in any of the three division roadies will be a bonus. If they drop one, they're staring 1-4 right in the face.
The ending stretch does not look as daunting. None of their December opponents made the playoffs in 2007. The Ravens have a new coach, the Niners and Bengals' coaches are strapped to the hot seat for the year, and there are rumblings that Andy Reid has outstayed his effectiveness in Philly.
Not that December will be a cakewalk by any stretch, but if they have a shot at a decent season going into the last four games, at this point you'd have to feel pretty good about their chances of finishing it off.
The key words there are "at this point". Games that look like sure losses now could turn into ones that the Redskins should win by the time that they are played. Penciling in a "W" at any point is just as risky.
That's why any extended analysis of the schedule at this point is little more than offseason filler material.
Since the road games are clumped at the beginning and end of the year, there will be plenty of home cooking in October and November. The Redskins go on the road just once in a six-week stretch that includes their bye week. The off week is sandwiched between prime time home games against the Steelers (Monday night) and Cowboys (Sunday night).