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Need to Know: Predicting the results of the Redskins' 2016 schedule

Need to Know: Predicting the results of the Redskins' 2016 schedule

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 15, 13 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 96 days ago. It will be 150 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 3; 2016 NFL draft 13; Redskins training camp starts 104

Hot topic

The NFL released the 2016 schedule last night and now it’s time for my annual foolish endeavor. Even though it’s difficult to pick the winner of an NFL game five minutes before kickoff, I’m going to try to pick the winners of each of the Redskins’ games right now, almost five months before the first one kicks off. Here we go:

Week 1—Steelers 24, @Redskins 20 I’m not sure that the Steelers fans will take over FedEx Field to the extent that they did in 2008 but the Redskins had better be ready with their silent counts just in case the Terrible Towels get rolling. A tough opener against Big Ben and company. (0-1)

Week 2—@Redskins 24, Cowboys 21 I’m not so sure the Redskins will have revenge for their 2015 home loss to Dallas on the top of their minds but any motivation will help. The visitors should have Tony Romo and Dez Bryant at full strength so the Redskins had better have an improved defense. (1-1)

Week 3—@Giants 17, Redskins 14 Are they good enough to win in the Meadowlands yet? They went to MetLife in Week 3 last year feeling pretty confident and they got beaten pretty soundly. Big test but I don’t think they are there yet. (1-2)

Week 4—@Redskins 34, Browns 17 RG3 or not RG3? The NFL may have waited a week or two too long for this one if they want to have Griffin returning to his former field of glory. We’ll know a lot more in a couple of weeks when we see if and when the Browns draft a quarterback. (2-2)

Week 5—@Ravens 24, Redskins 21 The Ravens will be one of the more interesting teams to watch this year. Were their problems last year injury related or have they taken a step back that will take a year or two to recover from? If they’re even part of the way back they will be tough to beat at home. (2-3)

Week 6—@Redskins 20, Eagles 10 They have a new head coach, an unsettled situation at quarterback, and some other issues. They have the look of a 6-10 team and the Redskins should be able to handle them at home. (3-3)

Week 7—Redskins 30, @ Lions 13 The Redskins get that first road win of the year before December this time around. With no Calvin Johnson, the Lions are rebuilding as they have been since 1956. (4-3)

Week 8—Redskins 24, Bengals 20 (London) A week after their road breakthrough they go across the Atlantic and beat a team that will finish the season with a winning record. The Redskins have a much stronger fan base in the UK and it should resemble a home game in terms of crowd noise. (5-3)

Week 9—Bye Right smack in the middle of the schedule.

Week 10—Vikings 24, @ Redskins 17 There will be plenty of reasons to think that the Redskins will win this one, at home, on a three-game winning streak, and coming off of the bye. Sounds like a trap. (5-4)

Week 11—@ Redskins 35, Packers 31 Right after they lose one you think they should win they do the opposite. (6-4)

Week 12—@ Cowboys 28, Redskins 20 Maybe they can play Sunday night, prepare for two days, get on a plane to Dallas, and beat the Cowboys. But it’s hard for me to see it. (6-5)

Week 13—@Cardinals 31, Redskins 30 We’re in December now and who knows who will be healthy for either team by then. (6-6)

Week 14—Redskins 27, @Eagles 10 The Redskins score their second consecutive sweep of their division rivals. (7-6)

Week 15—Panthers 28, @ Redskins 21 I think the Redskins will have closed the gap with the Panthers and they will have home field advantage but I still don’t think the home team will quite be ready for prime time. (7-7)

Week 16—@ Bears 17, Redskins 14 The Bears will be better under John Fox. The Redskins had a couple of breaks go their way and escaped with a win at Soldier Field last December. I think the breaks will even out in December of 2016 and the Bears will get the win (7-8)

Week 17—@ Redskins 35, Giants 21 The Redskins go in needing three other teams to lose to have a shot at the playoffs. The do their part but they don’t get in. (8-8)

In case you missed it

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!