The 1982 Washington Redskins will face the toughest schedule in terms of opponents' 1981 won-lost records of any team in the National Football League, playing teams whose combined record last season was 145-111.
The Redskins, who finished 8-8 last year after losing their first five games, will play nine 1981 playoff teams and will face last January's Super Bowl competitors on consecutive weekends, the NFL champion San Francisco 49ers at RFK Stadium on Oct. 31 and the AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati on Nov. 7.
Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs said the schedule "is going to make it extremely tough on us this year. I hope our fans and everybody associated with our club realizes what a challenge this is going to be. It will make a real hard task for everybody."
In terms of opponents' 1981 records, the New Orleans Saints have the second toughest schedule, facing teams whose combined record was 137-119; the Houston Oilers are third, facing opposition that was 136-119-1.
Of the teams in the NFC East Division, the New York Giants have the fourth toughest schedule in the league, playing opponents whose 1981 records were 135-121. The Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, each of whose opponents were 133-123 last year, face the seventh toughest, and the St. Louis Cardinals, 128-128, the 17th toughest.
The Miami Dolphins, playing teams that were 114-140-2 last season, have the easiest schedule.
For the second consecutive year, the Redskins will play all their games on Sunday afternoon.
Opening Sept. 12 against the Eagles in Philadelphia, the Redskins will play their first two games on the road for the first time since 1971. They will face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay on Sept. 19 and the Cowboys in Dallas on Oct. 10, giving them three road games against 1981 playoff teams in their first five contests.
Since the Redskins end the season against the Saints in New Orleans on Dec. 26, they will be playing their first and last games on the road for the first time since 1969. It is the fourth consecutive year the Redskins have closed a regular season on the road.
Regular season games are to end on Christmas weekend, instead of a week earlier, to avoid a conflict with network television broadcasts of college bowl games Jan. 1. The first round of the NFL playoffs will be played Sunday, Jan. 2.
For the Redskins, the key portion of the schedule will come Nov. 21 to Dec. 19, when they have five consecutive games against NFC East rivals, three at home and two on the road. Two of those games, in Giants Stadium on Nov. 21 and against Dallas here Dec. 5, will be televised nationally as part of CBS doubleheaders. The Dec. 5 Dallas game will be the only contest at RFK to be played at 4 p.m. All others are to begin at 1 p.m. It will be the first time since 1977 that the Redskins will have played their second game against the Cowboys at home.
Joe Rhein, an NFC coordinator, said there was no attempt to exclude the Redskins from the ABC-televised Monday night games, and that earlier drafts of the schedule had the Redskins playing on a Monday night.
He said the Redskins' schedule was drawn up according to a formula that has the first four teams in the NFC East last year playing 12 common opponents, eight games against NFC East teams and four against the AFC Central: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Houston. For the remaining four games, Washington and Dallas have four common opponents from the NFC Central and NFC West divisions: Tampa Bay, Minnesota, San Francisco and New Orleans.