2018 Washington Redskins game-by-game predictions

The Washington Redskins haven’t had a bad offseason, just a relatively quiet one. It’s hard to know how much better they’ll be after going 7-9 in an injury-filled 2017 season. They’re relying on a good draft, better health and young players progressing. But their schedule is a difficult one, and if those factors don’t all happen, it’ll be a tough season.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:25 p.m. ET

With a new coach (Steve Wilks) and quarterback (Sam Bradford, a rookie or Mike Glennon) in Arizona, there could be growing pains. The Redskins will take advantage, even though they, too, have a new passer -- but Alex Smith is not coming off a major knee injury. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, vs. Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

In the home opener, the big question will center around the opposing quarterback: Will Andrew Luck even be playing? The Colts also have a new coach and the Redskins will capitalize against a defense that ranked 30th in both yards and points last season. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, vs. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m. ET

This will be a crucial game to solidify a hot start. If the Redskins truly have progressed, they will win this game. It’s hard to say that at this point and a healthy Aaron Rodgers will make the difference. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Bye

Week 5: Monday, Oct. 8, at New Orleans Saints, 8:15 p.m. ET

This was the site of Washington’s most crushing loss in 2017, blowing a 15-point lead late. The Redskins have lost eight of their past nine games on Monday Night Football; reversing that trend in the Superdome will be difficult. Record: 2-2

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m. ET

The Redskins’ defense has turned over quite a bit in recent years, but their task will be the same as the others: stop Cam Newton. He’s 4-0 with nine touchdowns and no interceptions against Washington. Record: 2-3

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET

Dallas has won eight of the past 10 games against Washington, including the past five at FedEx Field. But Smith, in his first appearance against Washington’s hated rival, will snap that skid. Record: 3-3

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

This is another one that will reveal just how much they’ve changed, but we need to know more about the roster first before giving them a win in this game. One note: Smith has thrown eight career picks in only four games versus the Giants, tied for his most against any team. Record: 3-4

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. ET

The Redskins did not have corner Josh Norman shadow the opposition’s top receiver, but they might have to alter that strategy against receiver Julio Jones. The Falcons have a lot of weapons. Record: 3-5

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. ET

Former Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson didn’t make a big impact with the Bucs last season. The Redskins missed his speed but hope they’ve replaced some of what he can do with free agent Paul Richardson. Record: 4-5

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, vs. Houston Texans, 1 p.m. ET

The hard part with Houston is knowing what Deshaun Watson can do coming off the knee injury and how it’ll impact his game. Smith is 4-1 against Houston with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions; his quick decisions and mobility will be a factor in this one. Record: 5-5

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 22, at Dallas Cowboys, 4:30 p.m. ET

The Redskins have won once in Dallas on Thanksgiving -- Robert Griffin III’s rookie season of 2012. It’s just not a good place for them to spend a holiday, as they’ve lost seven of eight to Dallas on that day. Record: 5-6

Week 13: Monday, Dec. 3, at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m. ET

The Redskins couldn’t stop Carson Wentz last season, especially when he got on the move. His legs hurt them in both meetings, leading to touchdown passes and key third-down scrambles. Record: 5-7

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. New York Giants, 1 p.m. ET

The Redskins entered the season having won three of the past five against the Giants. The Redskins struggled against this defense under former quarterback Kirk Cousins, with only 40 points combined in the past three meetings. Record: 6-7

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

This schedule makes it hard to build any momentum, especially late, with so many good teams around every corner. The Jaguars had the NFL’s second-ranked defense in yards and points allowed. Record: 6-8

Week 16: TBD (either Saturday, Dec. 22 or Sunday, Dec. 23), at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

Tennessee made the playoffs, but part of that stemmed from its schedule, and the Titans remain an enigma. Two former Redskins could be starting for Tennessee’s defense: linebackers Brian Orakpo and Will Compton. Record: 7-8

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET

The Redskins really could be fighting for a playoff spot in this game if young players develop and the draft provides a boost. All of that is hard to predict, but they will end the season on a strong note. Record: 8-8