- John Keim, ESPN Washington Redskins reporter
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Breakdown: The Redskins will be the first team to see just how much better defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh makes the Miami Dolphins. And the Redskins' start could provide a chance for instant success with consecutive home games. In 2011, the Redskins played their first two games at home and won both -– and then went 3-11 the rest of the season. Still, they need to give the fan base a boost after a 4-12 season, and winning immediately at home would help. But the real test will be the following two games, starting at the New York Giants and then hosting the Philadelphia Eagles. The Redskins have gone 2-12 in NFC East games the past two seasons, so a good start here is a must. After the bye, life gets interesting with a game at New England –- their first game against a 2014 playoff team -– followed by intriguing teams New Orleans and Carolina. The Panthers played well down the stretch and made the playoffs at 7-9. The Saints also went 7-9 but still have a dangerous quarterback in Drew Brees. These games will set the tone for the rest of the season.
Complaint department: The Redskins finish with three road games in the last four weeks, including consecutive road games at Philadelphia and Dallas to close the season. Chicago, the first of the three away games, is a rebuilding team with a new coach. So the Bears are a wild card in this, but to finish with two division games on the road is brutal, especially with one being a night game. If the Redskins catch some breaks and are contending entering this stretch, then they’d better hope they build some cushion entering those two games. Otherwise they’d have to finish strong against the two best teams in the division a year ago. The lone home game in that stretch is against Buffalo, a team that could be on the rise.
Finishing touch: The Redskins will get a long break from divisional games this season. After playing the Giants and Eagles in consecutive weeks, they go from Oct. 4 until Nov. 29 without facing a team in their division -– and then they finish with four of their last six games in the NFC East. That’s good and bad. In 2012, the Redskins believed they were still in contention even at 3-6 because five of their seven remaining games were against division opponents. Every game is important, but you can make up a lot of ground with a hot finish versus division foes. Sure enough, they won all five as part of their seven-game winning streak en route to a division title.
Strength of schedule: 21st, .479
Redskins regular-season schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, Miami, 1:00 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, St. Louis, 1:00 p.m.
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 24, at NY Giants, 8:25 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, Philadelphia, 1:00 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, at Atlanta, 1:00 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, at NY Jets, 1:00 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25, Tampa Bay, 1:00 p.m.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, at New England, 1:00 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, New Orleans, 1:00 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Carolina, 1:00 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, NY Giants, 1:00 p.m.
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 7, Dallas, 8:30 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Chicago, 1:00 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, Buffalo, 1:00 p.m.
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 26, at Philadelphia, 8:25 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, at Dallas, 1:00 p.m.
With a tough closing stretch of the schedule, getting off to a fast start in 2015 will be imperative for the Redskins' hopes to contend.