2017 Washington Redskins game-by-game predictions

The Washington Redskins have a chance to start strong and finish fast, at least based on how their 2017 opponents fared a year ago. They also play some teams late in the season -- Arizona and Denver -- which, in the past, would be scary opponents. But, this season they could go either way and neither direction would be surprising. And that could help elevate the Redskins to their second postseason trip in three years.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10 vs. Philadelphia Eagles,1 p.m. ET

The Redskins have won five straight against the Eagles, and quarterback Kirk Cousins has led four of those victories. In five starts against the Eagles, Cousins has thrown 12 touchdowns to three interceptions and owns a 4-1 record. This could be the start of his final season in Washington. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 17 at Los Angeles Rams, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Redskins face their former offensive coordinator, Sean McVay, who became the youngest head coach in NFL history. McVay has a bright future and he has put together a strong staff (including ex-Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry). But McVay will be working with a young quarterback and facing a solid veteran team. This marks the Redskins' first game in Los Angeles since the final game of the 1994 season. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24 vs. Oakland Raiders, 8:30 p.m. ET

This will be the best early test to see just how far the Redskins’ defense has come, facing an offense that scored 416 points last season, seventh most in the NFL. Washington’s Terrelle Pryor will face his former team for the first time since he moved to receiver; Pryor spent three years as a quarterback with Oakland. But the matchup to watch will be between Raiders pass-rusher Khalil Mack and Redskins left tackle Trent Williams. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Monday, Oct. 2 at Kansas City Chiefs, 8:30 p.m. ET

The last time these teams met it signaled the beginning of the end of the Mike Shanahan era, a 35-point Chiefs win in Washington. The Chiefs are 18-6 at home the past three years combined. This would be a good win for the Redskins and they did go 4-3-1 on the road last season. But it’s hard to see them pulling out this one. Record: 2-2

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: Sunday, Oct 15 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1 p.m. ET

There’s no doubt the ultra-competitive Kyle Shanahan would love to hang a big point total on his old team. But Shanahan, in his first season with the 49ers, lacks the firepower he had in Atlanta last season. Former Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon returns, but in this battle of ex-Michigan State quarterbacks (Cousins and Brian Hoyer), there’s a big edge for the home team. Record: 3-2

Week 7: Monday, Oct. 23 at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m. ET

It’s hard to keep beating a divisional opponent, unless their nickname is the Browns. So the Redskins' six-game winning streak will come to an end in another night game. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz has legitimate weapons this season. Record: 3-3

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29 vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET

Dallas swept Washington last season as quarterback Dak Prescott threw only one touchdown pass against the Redskins, but no interceptions. His poise mattered in both games as he completed 72.2 percent of his passes for a combined 487 yards. Record: 3-4

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5 at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m. ET

After playing in one of the toughest NFL venues already (Kansas City), the Redskins travel to one that might be even harder. Seattle is 26-6 at home over the past four seasons. The Seahawks’ defense could take a step back this season, but it’s hard to count on that, especially with a healthy Earl Thomas at safety. Record: 3-5

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET

For the third time, former Bengals assistant coaches will meet as head coaches. Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden have split the first two meetings. This game depends a lot on the Vikings’ offense, but their defense always seems to be rock solid. Will that be enough? Record: 4-5

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. ET

The one quarterback Cousins seems to study above all others: New Orleans’ Drew Brees. A lot of Cousins’ beliefs stem from either reading what Brees has to say or talking to him. Cousins will like seeing the New Orleans’ defense even more. Record: 5-5

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 23 vs. New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. ET

The NFL didn’t do the Redskins any favors with a road game before a short week, but at least it’s a home night game. Not that they’ve been kind to Washington at home. In the past 20 years, the Redskins are 8-25 in home night games. But they’ll sweep their pair this season. Record: 6-5

Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 30 at Dallas Cowboys, 8:25 p.m. ET

By this point in the season, we’ll know just how good the Redskins’ run defense is – and whether or not it can contain running back Ezekiel Elliott. He rushed for a combined 180 yards in two games vs. Washington last season. The Dallas defense must contend with what should still be a high-powered offense. Record: 7-5

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET

The Chargers had one of the NFL’s highest-scoring offenses in 2016 -- but also one of the worst defenses. Only three teams allowed more points. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw a career-high 21 interceptions last season, but he’ll get receiver Keenan Allen back. This game will be the one that’s tough to explain. Record: 7-6

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. ET

Arizona will be a mystery team entering the season. The Cardinals still have weapons on offense, but a lot will depend on how quarterback Carson Palmer fares -- and whether or not their defense can withstand key losses. This game looks tough now; it could look a lot different come December. Record: 8-6

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24 vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m. ET

Another team that could go a couple ways after losing their head coach and defensive coordinator after the 2016 season. The Broncos don’t know who their quarterback will be, but they still have linebacker Von Miller and only three teams allowed fewer points last season. Still, there will be questions. Record: 9-6

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31 at New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

Once again, a game against New York with a playoff berth likely at stake. (Or a wild-card spot clinched and a chance to rest? Maybe a division title?) We haven’t yet mentioned the bad blood between corner Josh Norman and receiver Odell Beckham Jr.; and the bad blood between Pryor and corner Janoris Jenkins. A big question for this game: Will it be Cousins’ final one with Washington? Record: 9-7