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Schedule This

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, head of state, or, well, even a corporate lawyer to figure out the Skins are gonna be tested early. The schedule make did rookie head coach Jim Zorn no favors, and by mid October I'm sure you guys will be weighing in on the state of the Vinny Cerrato Era, for better or worse.

The Skins have to play an extra preseason game, they open the season before anyone else at the Super Bowl champ Giants and face all three NFC foes on the road in the first five weeks. That's a tall order, especially considering the overall lack of success the Skins have had on the road within the division.

The two teams they get at home within the first five weeks - Arizona and New Orleans - came very close to making the playoffs last season and boast elite offenses.

The schedule eases up a little in the middle, but playing Pittsburgh in primetime before the Bye is no joke, and the three games coming out of the bye could loom large: Dallas at home, at Seattle (a house of horrors for the Skins) and then the G-Men at home.

Again, it eases up with non-playoff teams at the end, but closing with three of four on the road is another difficult chore. We all remember how angst-ridden Coach Joe would get on schedule day - he loved that line about going after his AD for giving him such a touch docket every year, didn't he? - and in this case it would seem to be for good reason. (Man, I miss the Gibbsisms already. We'll see if Zorn fills the void. So far all we've got from Z-Man is "the black and maroon," but it's still awful early.

But should the NFC shape up as it did last year - and we all know this league changes like heck every six months - the Skins would seem to have every chance to settle it on the field. The non-division NFC games are against clubs they were battling for playoff contention a year ago - Arizona, NO, Detroit - and they get plenty of primetime exposure as well.

The first five weeks and the three games out of the bye may prove too much to overcome. But if the Skins can go anywhere close to .500 in those eight games, they should be in fine position for a playoff run.

Randoms: Sorry to get this up so late. The drive up the Philly took way longer than usual due to DC traffic. Covering the Caps/Flyers tonight. Getting back to my roots. Back up here again Thursday ... Anyone not a hockey fan, check out the new reality series on NOFX - my favorite band in the world at one point in my life - that's debuting on Fuse. It's good stuff. Can't believe those crusty punks agreed to be filmed (they've shunned MTV for years, not even releasing videos to them. Saw the first episode the other night. Great stuff ... Manny Ramirez is gonna be a slugging god this season. Sick, sick sick Sox comeback last night ... The Flyers have bill boards all over the place on 95 with their slogan: Vengeance Now. Seriously. That's the slogan. Vengeance Now. Wasn't that like the name of the 4th Friday The 13th? The one right before "Jason Takes Manhattan? (Gotta feeling that line makes it into my column tonight one way or the other; or, more to the point, I'll write it and it'll end up on the editing-room floor.)

By Jason La Canfora  |  April 15, 2008; 6:45 PM ET
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