Washington Redskins face tough opening stretch in 2019 schedule

The Washington Redskins are 1-4 in season openers under coach Jay Gruden. Can they change that in their Week 1 opener at Philadelphia? Brad Mills/USA Today Sports

The NFL has released its 2019 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Washington Redskins.

Game-by-game prediction

Redskins reporter John Keim is predicting a 7-9 finish:

Sept. 8: at Philadelphia, Loss

Sept. 15: vs. Dallas, Win

Sept. 23: vs. Chicago, Loss

Sept. 29: at N.Y. Giants, Win

Oct. 6: vs. New England, Loss

Oct. 13: at Miami, Win

Oct. 20: vs. San Francisco, Win

Oct. 24: at Minnesota, Loss

Nov. 3: at Buffalo, Loss

Nov. 17: vs. N.Y. Jets, Loss

Nov. 24: vs. Detroit, Win

Dec. 1: at Carolina, Loss

Dec. 8: at Green Bay, Loss

Dec. 15: at Philadelphia, Win

Dec. 22: vs. N.Y. Giants, Win

Dec. 29: at Dallas, Loss

Strength of schedule: 32nd, .469


The Redskins play three division games in the first four weeks, which will provide a great clue for how their season will play out. They also close the season with three straight division games. They need to start well against their division for a simple reason: In the past seven seasons, the Redskins have made the playoffs twice. Both times they finished above .500 in the division. In the other five years, they were a combined 8-22 in the NFC East. Also, having a Thursday night game with 11 days off followed two weeks later by a bye might help them get healthy for a late push. They had early byes the past two seasons and the injuries mounted late. Players' health is a big reason for subdued expectations.

Welcome, old friend

The Oct. 24 game in Minnesota will be especially interesting for two players -- Redskins running back Adrian Peterson and Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. Peterson has faced the Vikings, whom he played for from 2007 through 2016. Two years ago, in Peterson's first game in a non-Vikings uniform, he rushed for only 18 yards on a then-career low six carries for New Orleans. That game became infamous for the glare he gave Saints coach Sean Payton on the sideline. Cousins, the Redskins' starter from 2015 through 2017, left via free agency last season -- and there's not much love lost on either side. Some of his former teammates dubbed him "Pick-Six Kirk" the day after one particular Vikings loss last season.

Rough start

The Redskins are 1-4 in season openers under coach Jay Gruden, but they have been 3-2 in each of the past three seasons after five games. It would qualify as a heck of a start if they can duplicate that success in 2019. Four of their first five games are against teams that made the playoffs in 2018, including a home game against the Super Bowl champion Patriots to close that stretch. The Redskins have not made the postseason for three straight years, putting Gruden on the hot seat. The Redskins can't afford a tepid opening.