5 Must-Watch Matchups on the Redskins' 2014 Schedule

Chris Hayre@@chrishayreContributor IIApril 25, 2014

5 Must-Watch Matchups on the Redskins' 2014 Schedule

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    Evan Vucci

    Revenge and redemptionthat's the theme of the Washington Redskins' upcoming season.

    The 2012 NFC East Champions were punching bags in 2013, but a new head coach, some new blood and a rejuvenated franchise quarterback could be the catalysts for a resurgent 2014.

    Now that the NFL schedule has been released, let's count down the most anticipated regular-season matchups for the Redskins from No. 5 to No. 1. This list was put together with the following criteria in mind: recent rivalry history, player movement in free agency and any other relevant, intriguing storyline.

    Feel free to add the one game you're most looking forward to in the comments section.

5. Redskins at Colts

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    Nick Wass

    When: Sunday, Nov. 30 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern (Fox)

    In Week 13, the top two overall picks from the 2012 NFL draft will go toe-to-toe for the first time ever in a regular-season game.

    Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows during his first two seasons in the league. After a dream rookie season in which he led the Redskins to their first NFC East title in 13 years while picking up Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, 2013 proved to be a nightmare.

    Griffin tore his ACL in the NFC Wild Card Game against the Seattle Seahawks in January 2013, causing him to miss an entire offseason of OTAs, training camp and preseason games. The end result for 2013 was a gut-wrenching 3-13 season, which ended three weeks early for Griffin when he was benched by former head coach Mike Shanahan.

    Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has been as advertised and then some. Luck has led the Colts to the playoffs in both of his seasons under center and will be looking for more in 2014.

    These two will forever be linked, and early returns have Luck with a leg up. Griffin will have his shot to prove that 2013 was an aberration.

    This game has loads of national cache but is ranked lower on this list simply because it's an out-of-conference game for the Redskins.

4. Rams at Redskins

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    Tom Gannam

    When: Sunday, Dec. 7 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern (Fox)

    The blockbuster trade between the St. Louis Rams and the Redskins—you know, the one that brought Griffin to D.C. in 2012—will be complete in just two weeks. Seven months later, we'll get to see which team actually got the better end of the deal.

    The Rams travel to FedEx Field in Week 14 with the haul of players that they accumulated in the RG3 trade, which will also include the No. 2 overall pick in this year's NFL draft.

     Players Drafted by Rams in RG3 Trade
         Michael Brockers, DT
     Isaiah Pead, RB
     Rokevious Watkins, OT (waived)
     Janoris Jenkins, CB
     Alec Ogletree, LB
     Stedman Bailey, WR
     Zac Stacy, RB
     No. 2 overall pick in 2014

    Source: ESPN.com's Matt Willis

    When Griffin was setting the league on fire in 2012, this trade looked to be an absolute no-brainer for the Redskins. But after a three-win season for Washington in 2013, the Rams essentially received back the No. 2 overall pick they originally gave up to the Redskins, plus the group of players listed above.

    While this trade will be debated for years on end, the 2014 season will mark the first time that all of the players involved are on the field at the same time. Let's just call it the Griffin Bowl.

3. Seahawks at Redskins

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    Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    When: Monday, Oct. 6 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

    The defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks visit Washington in Week 5 for Monday Night Football—the first time Jon Gruden will be calling a regular-season game in which his brother Jay is the sidelines as a head coach.

    The last time the Seahawks flew in to FedEx was a dark day in Redskins history.

    It was the NFC Wild Card Game in January 2013. A 14-point lead was squandered. The playing surface was an abomination. The Redskins' franchise, rookie quarterback tore his ACL while his counterpart from Seattle, Russell Wilson, calmly led his team from behind to advance to the NFC Divisional Round. Final: 24-14.

    After the game, Redskins tackle Trent Williams and the Seahawks' chirpy cornerback, Richard Sherman got into it, which lead to Williams to sucker-punching Sherman in the face.

    That one day—Jan. 6, 2013—catapulted the Redskins and Seahawks into opposite directions. Washington was a laughingstock in 2013, winning only three games. Seattle, on the other hand, won 13 regular-season games, three in the postseason and ended up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

    This game will not only be a measuring stick for the current Redskins roster, but it will also be fueled by bitter feelings from veterans who were on the field for that cold, harsh January evening.

2. Redskins at Cowboys

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    USA TODAY Sports

    When: Monday, Oct. 27 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern (ESPN)

    Throw out the records. 

    Dallas is Dallas, especially when the whole nation is watching.

    Washington travels to Jerry World in Week 8, its second Monday Night Football game of the season, to take on the hated Dallas Cowboys. It will also be the second time in four weeks that Jon will be in the booth critiquing his brother.

    After sweeping the Cowboys in 2012 on their way to a 5-1 record in the NFC East, the Redskins were not only beaten twice by Dallas last season but also were an embarrassing 0-6 in the division. 

    This game will also be a homecoming for former Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher, whom the Redskins acquired this offseason in free agency. You can bet he wouldn't mind getting a few shots in on his former teammate, quarterback Tony Romo.

    It's paramount for Washington to win its division games this season, and that includes stealing a game or two on the road. Beating the Cowboys in Dallas would be a tremendous first-year feat for Gruden, but consider this game a small appetizer should the Redskins find themselves in a "win or go home" situation against the 'Boys in Week 17 at FedEx Field.

1. Redskins at Eagles

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    When: Sunday, Sept. 21 at 1:00 p.m. Eastern (Fox)

    As if this was a surprise.

    New Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson heads back to Philadelphia in Week 3 with a "Chip" the size of the Liberty Bell on his shoulder.

    Yes, it's a 16-game season but this much is clear: Jackson isn't donning burgundy and gold if the Philadelphia Eagles aren't in the NFC East. He wants nothing more than to prove to Eagles general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Chip Kelly that they made a grave error in releasing outright a 27-year-old Pro Bowler in the prime of his career.

    Jackson will be the headliner that Sunday, but it should be noted that Washington was flattened by the Birds twice in 2013. Prideful defensive players like Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, DeAngelo Hall and Barry Cofield all endured a drubbing from Kelly's offense in 2013.

    Griffin’s first game on his wobbly knee last season came in the season opener against an Eagles defense that battered him at every turn. His second game against Philly ended with a careless interception when the Redskins were furiously driving with a chance to force overtime. 

    Individually and collectively, the 2014 Washington Redskins have a lot to prove. The regular season may begin with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively, but make no mistake:

    Revenge and redemption starts in Philadelphia.

    *All player and game information courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.