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Looks Like Someone Has a Sixpack of the Mondays

The schedules are out and the record predictions are streaming in...time to map out that road to 10-6!!!!!!

NFL: Washington Redskins at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Each year, the NFL drops its schedule to throngs of screaming Navin R. Johnson impersonators, each more excited than the last about seeing actual game dates in black and white. I love this time because we kind of go from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds with both the schedule and the draft all happening in a tight window. (Then we beat the draft up in the beginning of May before hitting another cement wall of nothingness.) You’ll read countless record prediction pieces between now and September, but only one will be predicting 10-6 for a record TENTH time! (You’re welcome.) Let’s get out of the gate with a win, y’all. The Redskins start on the road against the likely favorite to win the division, the Philadelphia Eagles. I like Washington to win because...well, because there is no freaking way they should win. We will literally all tune in expecting a loss and Case Keenum (who I have as our starting quarterback in week one) will come out throwing darts. The Redskins will be the best version of themselves in week one, with everyone healthy (except one guy who is making $20 million) and no game film that indicates the quarterback is going to target only tight ends and backup running backs in the passing game. This win will feel great for Redskins fans, because it will be a situation where we all will have watched the game with fellow Redskins fans and probably NO Eagles fans. In this way, it will feel drastically different from a game against Philly played at FedEx. Don’t get me wrong, Carson Wentz will have the ball in his hands at the buzzer with a chance to win the game, but it says here our first round pick, Clelin Ferrell, will get his hands on Wentz and bring him down to close out the win.
  2. The 1-0 Redskins will come home in week two for a pair of home games starting with the Dallas Cowboys. All of us—including me—will be talking about why this Redskins team is already a playoff contender, having dispatched the Eagles in the opener. Unfortunately, FedEx Field will continue to not be our friend. As bad as things got in Landover last season, I expect them to be at least as bad next year. The stadium is going to be filled with Cowboys fans and Case Keenum is going to wake up to his new reality: there is no home field advantage for the Washington Redskins. As great as we looked on the road in week one, we will look that bad in week two, and by the end of the day, every team in the NFC East will be 1-1 (that’s right, I am predicting that Eli Manning and the Giants get one of their few wins in the opener against Dallas). Things get back on track for Washington in week two as they host the Chicago Bears on Monday Night Football. I have been to more than my fair share of Bears/Redskins games at FedEx. I have seen Big Daddy Wilkinson rumble down the sideline for a touchdown; I have seen Todd Collins play the role of hero and I have watched Robert Griffin III fill a stat sheet in wins over the Monsters of the Midway. (The memories at Soldier Field might even be better, with Jay Cutler almost exclusively targeting DeAngelo Hall and Darrell Green running the hurdles.) The Redskins beating Chicago makes sense, despite Khalil Mack keeping his team in the game. Before I move on to the next mini-segment of our season, let me go ahead and chalk up a win over the Giants in New York (see above explanation for the friendly confines of the road) and a loss at home to Tom Brady in week five. At 3-2, there will be a raging debate about whether or not there should be a raging debate surrounding Washington’s playoff chances.
  3. One staple of this column every year is my attempt to correctly identify the linchpin/cornerstone/keystone of the season. This has always been a stretch of one or two or three games on which, in my humble opinion, the fate of the season rests. While I reserve the right to sharpen my pencil on this one, I have tentatively circled the next four weeks as crucial to our chances to make the playoffs. Let me be clearer: 2-2 ain’t gonna cut it. The Redskins have to be 3-1 in this stretch...at worst. Let’s go through them quickly. First up is a road game against the Dolphins. Miami is moving into a heavy rebuild, which would suggest they whoop our ass, but they will probably be 0-4 coming off of a bye week where they go even deeper into the rebuild. As Ron White might say, “There’s a lot of quit in those boys.” The next two weeks are going to be long on storylines. First up is Kyle Shanahan’s return to FedEx with his 49ers. I think the 49ers are going to be pretty darn good this year, but this might be the only home game where FedEx is mostly behind the home team. There will undoubtedly be a huge contingent of San Fran fans, but it will mostly be Cowboys and Eagles fans in 49ers jerseys, and even they won’t be able to root for Kyle in earnest. I feel like this is the game to go to if you are picking which ticket to buy...I can already feel an awesome tailgate coming on this day. Yes, you will see a Redskins win, but don’t expect it to feel that great. I’m banking on San Fran making mistakes they won’t make very often this season, giving the Skins just enough room to win this on a last-second field goal. Thankfully, we are back on the road later that same week, facing off against none other than Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings on Thursday Night Football. Most of you will be busy betting heavily on the Vikings in this one, but not me. I fully expect Kirk Cousins to do what he has always done when playing in front of us: just enough for his team to maybe win. That is just the kind of opening a mediocre team on the road needs! Everyone will forget that Case Keenum had a career year at U.S. Bank Stadium until they see him have a career day at U.S. Bank Stadium on October 24, 2019. The Redskins don’t become involved in too many blowouts—either way—but this game is going to be over early. Adrian Peterson will give his former fans something to remember and the Redskins will end the night with a 6-2 record, and a week and a half to prepare for the...Buffalo Bills. I have to tell you all, I love Buffalo fans, and I love watching this team play (it reminds of a certain local team). They come out of nowhere to lay beatings down on the New England Patriots most years, and they’ll occasionally deliver a drubbing to some poor team despite NO BILLS PLAYERS HAVING A BIG FANTASY DAY. (This was my first fantasy reference, Kevin and Tim...and so far ZERO Game of Thrones references!) Still, the Bills manage to consistently lose the games that nobody outside of Buffalo or the city of their opponent cares about. That describes this game perfectly. I mean, they might even cancel the broadcast of this game ahead of time and just put one of those bouncy-ball “Gamecast” graphics on the television. I’ll still watch because that actually sounds like the perfect complement to a bottle of whiskey, and by the end, I probably won’t even know I’m not watching real football. My wife and kids are gonna have lots of questions, but a Redskins win is all the answer I need. This 4-0 stretch is critical because it builds a 7-2 cushion heading down the home stretch of the season. It gives Washington two conference wins (San Fran and Minnesota), and it sends the team into the bye week with some very important confidence.
  4. If you turn the channel now, you will leave with a great feeling about things, and you won’t have to grind through yet another bad second half of a season. If you’re doing the math, you know that if the Redskins are going to finish at 10-6, it means they are going to finish things out with a 3-4 record after the bye week. Wait...it gets worse. In what will surely shock me and the rest of the world, the Redskins will come out of the bye with a roar. Even better, they will take two in a row at home against the Jets and the Lions. That’s right, the Washington Redskins will be sitting at 9-2 in late November, and we will all be changing our shorts three times a day because we won’t be able to control our bodily functions. The Jets and Lions might not be great measuring sticks for greatness, but I can already hear me writing the words, “Good teams beat the teams they are supposed to beat.” I so tire of myself.
  5. Strap in folks...the next four weeks are going to absolutely suck out loud. The networks are going to be chock full of morons talking about the Redskins being a great team in 2019, with real postseason credibility. Do yourselves a favor: find that one nerdy sportswriter guy over at the Wall Street Journal who crunches a bunch of numbers and somehow suggests that the Redskins “True Adjusted Win-Loss Record” is actually 2-9 because of some level of hidden suckiness. He won’t be 100% right, but he will be the only one preparing us for the next four weeks. In back-to-back road games, the Carolina Panthers and the Green Bay Packers are going to use the Redskins to begin their own roads to the postseason, moving the Redskins to 9-4 and causing all those handsome/pretty talkshow hosts who just two weeks ago were demanding for Jay Gruden to be the highest-paid coach in the NFL to now start openly wondering if players are quitting on him. The freefall will be in full bloom. The only thing worse than taking a beating at home from the Eagles in mid-December will be the followup loss at home to the mathematically eliminated New York Giants. Four straight losses after starting off 9-2...tell me you don’t believe that. The conversations that next week are going to be depressing as hell.
  6. The only thing we will have to cling to is a must-win game against the Dallas Cowboys. Luckily for us, it will be on the road in Texas! For some reason, I feel like Colt McCoy will be starting this game (because there is zero chance one guy starts 16 games for us, right?) and that guy owns Texas. Not only will Colt stop the bleeding, he will push all the right buttons in Jay Gruden’s offense in a way that negates the terribleness of the previous month. The Redskins, at 10-6, will squeeze through the side door of the playoffs feeling a lot better about themselves than they did after losing four straight December games. We will all be celebrating a win over Dallas, a playoff appearance, and a successful season given the limitations we had from the outset. Once again, I have delivered on my 10-6 promise, but in a way that makes a lot of Redskins sense. Don’t forget...this record hinges on that four-week stint I laid out as a 4-0 stretch. I’m guessing you aren’t going to forget that between now and your comments below.