Coach Mike Shanahan’s Redskins play their first NFC East game on Sunday. (Tom Gannam/Associated Press)

After six consecutive games against non-divisional opponents, the Washington Redskins  will face their first NFC East rival Sunday when they take on the New York Giants in the Meadowlands.

Week 7 is the latest the Redskins have opened NFC East play since the division was created in 1970.

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan was indifferent to the late start date but said it could lend itself to some positives. 

“The one thing I always say is, I don’t even worry about when you play different teams,” Shanahan said. “But I’d say it’s always an advantage if you’re going to play within your division if it’s little bit later than earlier, especially with rookie players. I think it is a big benefit for us with Robert [Griffin III] and a kid like [running back] Alfred [Morris]. He’d rather play a little bit later than earlier.”

Instead of having to play a crucial divisional game at the start of the season or within the  first few weeks, Griffin and Morris have had a chance to get a taste of the NFL and its challenges with six prep games.

The biggest drawback is that the meatiest part of the schedule lies ahead for the 3-3 Redskins. After Sunday’s game against New York, Washington will play two non-division games (at Pittsburgh, vs. Carolina) and then faces NFC East foes in three consecutive weeks (vs. Philadelphia, at Dallas, vs. New York). The team then plays two more games outside their division (vs. Baltimore, at Cleveland) and then closes out the season with what could be two critical games (at Philadelphia, vs. Dallas).