Washington Redskins schedule analysis

Breakdown: It's not often that a 4-12 team lands three prime-time games and five on national television. But coach Mike Shanahan has made the Redskins relevant again. The Redskins will open the season by hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, Sept. 12, on NBC. The only thing better would've been sending the Eagles to FedEx. But watching the Cowboys face a Redskins team that features quarterback Donovan McNabb is a pretty strong way to kick off the season. We'll find out immediately how much better the Skins are with McNabb and Shanahan.

But on Oct. 3, McNabb makes his highly anticipated return to Philadelphia. Something tells me the fans will give him a huge ovation before that game. The Redskins play four of their first six games at home, which should allow them to get off to a decent start. But hosting the Packers and Colts in back-to-back games in early October will be tough.

The Eagles, Redskins and Giants all received great bye weeks. Shanahan will have the Week 9 bye before the Eagles come to town. It's a pretty good scenario for the Redskins. The Redskins have the eighth toughest schedule in the league based on '09 records, but the schedule lays out pretty nicely in 2010. I just don't think they have a lot to complain about -- especially since they get the Colts, Packers and Vikings at home. I think the Redskins have the best schedule in the division. But now let's come up with something to complain about.

Complaint department: The other teams in the division don't have more than two sets of back-to-back road games. The Redskins weren't as fortunate. They travel to St. Louis and Philadelphia in Weeks 3 and 4. Then they have back-to-back road games in Chicago and Detroit in late October. The Skins will spend the Christmas holidays with back-to-back games in Arlington, Texas, and Jacksonville before hosting the Giants in Week 17. The Redskins only have back-to-back home games twice during the season. I don't think this is a huge complaint, but it's worth mentioning.

Facing Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers in back-to-back games in October won't be easy, but I see the Redskins emerging from the first six weeks with a 4-2 record. There, I said it.

Most-appealing matchup: It's not even close. That trip to Philly on Sunday, Oct. 3, will be one of the most anticipated games of the season. I may go ahead and book my flight. I think the second-best matchup might be that Dec. 19 game at Cowboys Stadium. The Redskins in a meaningful December game? It could happen.

Redskins Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Dallas, 8:20 PM

Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, Houston, 4:15 PM

Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, at St. Louis, 4:05 PM

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, at Philadelphia, 4:15 PM

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, Green Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Indianapolis, 8:20 PM

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24, at Chicago, 1:00 PM

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31, at Detroit, 1:00 PM

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: Monday, Nov. 15, Philadelphia, 8:30 PM

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Tennessee, 1:00 PM

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, Minnesota, 1:00 PM

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, at Dallas, 1:00 PM

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, at Jacksonville, 1:00 PM

Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, NY Giants, 1:00 PM