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After a 3-3 start, 9-7 is in Washington's sights. The schedule does get harder, but if the Redskins continue to improve, it is reasonable to predict positive results down the stretch.
With exactly ten regular season games left, the Redskins still have a chance to make my 9-7 preseason prediction a reality. This requires an above .500 record down the stretch against a slew of good teams. Here is how it
could will happen:
1. Week Seven @ New York Giants -- I predicted seven losses this season, and this week's tilt in New York has been one of them in my mind for quite some time. Sure, we beat them twice last year, but that means nothing this season. What I especially like about this game looking like a loss is that if (or when?) the Skins shock Big Blue with an upset special, it only makes the rest of this road map that much easier. There are no gimmes from here on out--not that we have necessarily performed great in gimme situations. A win over the Giants could propel this team to a record better than my 9-7 prediction, but a loss would not sink their chances to get there. (L, Record: 3-4)
2. Week Eight @ Pittsburgh Steelers -- A year ago, if you read that I was picking the Skins here, you would likely dismiss the rest of this column as malarkey (everyone else is using this word...why can't I?). In 2012 though, the Steelers are beatable. They have performed better at home than on the road so far this year, but Washington can score points on anyone. We are already averaging a touchdown better than Pittsburgh's per game points total. More than anything else, I choose to believe in a God that is sending Robert Griffin III to Pittsburgh to avenge the Monday Night Takeover from 2008, when our own offense couldn't hear themselves over the din of rowdy Steelers fans at FedEx. Redskins Nation might not be able to return the favor at Heinz Field, but a win on the road would elevate our standing. (W, Record 4-4)
3. Week Nine vs. Carolina Panthers -- When the Redskins return from their victorious road trip to Pittsburgh, the Carolina Panthers will be standing in their way of a winning record. In order to achieve a winning record, you have to be able to win multiple games in a row. This will be the first time the Redskins will have achieved back-to-back wins since September 2011 (coincidentally, that was also the last time the team won back-to-back home games). The hype surrounding Cam vs. RG3 will be inescapable, but not as inescapable as Ryan Kerrigan will be all day. It should be a very close game, with the Redskins showing a newfound ability to make big plays in the 4th quarter (#91 has to play a big part). (W, Record 5-4)
4. Week Eleven vs. Philadelphia Eagles -- After a week off to reflect on a solid 5-4 run to start the 2012 campaign, the Redskins will come off their bye to host the Eagles. This game has historically ended...uhhh...badly for the boys in burgundy and gold. Listen...the Eagles should be destroying people right now. The turmoil that has erupted in Philly as a result of their play is not going to just die down in a few weeks. The week of rest will benefit the home team and the Redskins will topple the reeling Eagles in a game that will bring some of the Redskins faithful to tears (three straight home wins!?!?!?!). (W, Record 6-4)
5. Week Twelve @ Dallas Cowgirls -- I can't stress enough how big this game is for the Washington Redskins. The hype and anxiety over this game is going to be piled higher than my Thanksgiving dinner plate. This will be Griffin's first shot at our most bitter rival. While Bobby G will have his win-loss record as a starter in this league, as a Redskins quarterback, he will also have his win-loss record against Dallas. I trust him so much in this situation, it makes me question my sanity. I mean, I am not even a little bit worried that the situation will get or be bigger than this man. National television...rivalry game...Thanksgiving...playing in front of many fans that saw him play in college--this has "Instant Classic" written all over it. My prediction is that Griffin will somehow draw from the emotion this fanbase will be generating around this game and drop his best performance to date. (W, Record 7-4)
6. Week Thirteen vs. New York Giants -- Don't worry. I am keeping track of the record. We have to lose some games, and as much as I hate to write it, I think the Monday Night game at home against the Giants is when real adversity will strike. That parking lot in Landover is going to be buzzing. The stadium is going to be absolutely electric as the Redskins take another swing at the defending Super Bowl champs. It is my hope that we put up a valiant effort, perhaps just getting bested by a New York team that is beginning its push for a title defense. This loss shouldn't lessen the admirable four-game winning streak that preceded it, and hopefully the manner in which we play will keep our hopes and expectations high for the remainder of the season. (L, Record 7-5)
7. Week Fourteen vs. Baltimore Ravens -- I want so badly to suggest that the Redskins can and will defeat the Ravens. It matters. Their defense is giving up huge yards on the ground. They are down a couple of key starters and the game is at FedEx. Let me say this: if one of the above games in which I have predicted a win goes against us, this is the game where I believe we would get back on track with a win. Otherwise, I have this down as a loss. I think Joe Flacco could have a huge day against our secondary, and I will be looking for Ray Rice out of the backfield to potentially lead the way in receiving yards. (L, Record 7-6)
8. Week Fifteen @ Cleveland Browns -- This game scares the crap out of me. It will be a game that all of us will be using the "s" word about a lot. I can hear the word "should" already. More than almost any other game down the stretch, this game might speak the loudest about who we are in December. Good teams win games they "should" win. Bad teams do not. Playoff contention is built on wins against teams that you "should" beat. Based on our recent history of struggling in games that the entire universe expects us to win, I see this coming down to...Kai Forbath. That is okay, because he will need the practice hitting big kicks if we are going to have a puncher's chance in games against better teams. (W, Record 8-6)
9. Week Sixteen @ Philadelphia Eagles -- I gave the Redskins a win over the Eagles in Week Eleven based largely on what I perceive to be a bit of chaos in Philly. By this point of the season, though, I expect Andy Reid to be firmly in control of his team. As they did in 2011, the Eagles will finish strongly. The Skins will want to be sure to refrain from the kinds of errors and gaffes that can unravel all the progress made to this point in the season. Despite a loss on the road in Philly, Washington will enter the final week of the season with a chance to secure a winning record in Griffin's first year. (L, Record 8-7)
10. Week Seventeen vs. Dallas Cowgirls -- The stage will be set on December 30 for drama. It is likely that an 8-7 Redskins team could be fighting for a Wild Card against their rivals. Let's not go that far just yet though--the opportunity to log a winning season in Shanahan's third year of rebuilding would simply be huge. The chance to establish a "winning way" behind Robert Griffin in his rookie season would be huge. The chance to do all of this against Dallas would be huge. If you're keeping track of my NFC East predictions, I have us going 3-3 with a split against Philly, two losses to the Giants and a sweep of Dallas. I don't believe in Dallas and I don't believe in Tony Romo. He does not tend to show up in a big way at FedEx, and if the Redskins are sniffing the playoffs, it says here the Cowgirls will get run over. New Year's Eve celebrations will begin early. (W, Record 9-7)
It is hard to believe that 9-7 would not qualify us for the playoffs. It would be insincere to suggest that the playoffs are not a goal or desire, or that it wouldn't be disappointing if we got that close and still ended up on the outside looking in. That said, we would all consider 9-7 to be a hell of a way to kick off the RG3 era. Our schedule is not an easy one. It gets harder as the season progresses. With the 3-3 start, 9-7 is very, very possible if this team is capable of generating true momentum out of that 76-yard touchdown run by Griffin against the Vikings.