Redskins get five prime-time games in 2013 schedule

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

The NFL must have two strong thoughts regarding the Redskins this season: Robert Griffin III will be healthy, and the Redskins will be good.

Based on the schedule, that's the main conclusion to draw. The Redskins will play a franchise-record five games in prime time in 2013, starting with the season opener vs. Philadelphia on Sept. 9.

They also play at Dallas on a Sunday night (Oct. 13), at Minnesota on a Thursday night (Nov. 7) and have consecutive night games late in the season vs. San Francisco (Nov. 25) and the New York Giants (Dec. 1).

The Redskins close the season at the Giants.

2013-14 schedule
Sept. 9 » Eagles, 7:10 p.m., ESPN
Sept. 15 » at Packers, 1 p.m., Fox
Sept. 22 » Lions, 1 p.m., Fox
Sept. 29 » at Raiders, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Oct. 6 » Bye
Oct. 13 » at Cowboys, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Oct. 20 » Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
Oct. 27 » at Broncos, 4:25 p.m., Fox
Nov. 3 » Chargers, 1 p.m., CBS
Nov. 7 » at Vikings, 8:25 p.m., NFLN
Nov. 17 » at Eagles, 1 p.m., Fox
Nov. 25 » 49ers, 8:40 p.m., ESPN
Dec. 1 » Giants, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Dec. 8 » Chiefs, 1 p.m., CBS
Dec. 15 » at Falcons, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 22 » Cowboys, 1 p.m., Fox
Dec. 29 » at Giants, 1 p.m., Fox

The early part of the schedule is less daunting than the final stretch. Of their first six opponents, only one -- Green Bay -- is coming off a playoff appearance. And three of them won only four games last season. But four of their final 10 games are against teams who made the postseason in 2012. And seven of those teams won at least eight games last year.

The opener will be interesting for many reasons, starting with the speculation surrounding Griffin's health after knee surgery in January. By all accounts, he remains ahead of schedule. Griffin still needs to prove himself on the field in terms of his health, but the original prognosis had him being sidelined for six to eight months. If he remains ahead of schedule, it would make sense that he's ready for the opener.

But if he can't play and is placed on the physically unable to perform list, he would only miss five games, thanks to an early bye week. He would be eligible to come off after Week 6.

Also, the Eagles have new coach Chip Kelly, who ran a fast-paced offense at the University of Oregon but has never coached in the NFL. Like the Redskins in their opener last season, the Eagles will have the element of surprise.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan returns to Denver for the first time as an opposing coach since he was fired by the Broncos in 2008 following 14 years in charge. The Redskins play there on Oct. 27.

Washington plays a Thursday game on Nov. 7 vs. Minnesota. But last year, the Redskins welcomed playing on a Thursday (Thanksgiving) because of the extra time off after the game. That'll help a team that has an early bye (Oct. 6). But the 10 days off also will give coaches extra time to prepare for upcoming games. They likely will do some prep work for Minnesota during their bye week and update it.

The Redskins do catch a break on road trips with only two instances where they play consecutive games away from home. But the first is broken up by the bye week and the second includes a 10-day break.

They do have a potentially tough finish with road games at Atlanta and New York sandwiched around the home finale vs. Dallas.

The tough part is trying to gauge a team's success after the schedule is released. In 2012, the Redskins looked to have a tough schedule over the final seven weeks. The Redskins entered that stretch 3-6 and reeled off seven straight wins en route to a division title.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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