The Redskins take on the Cardinals for the third consecutive season, beginning their season on the road for the first time since 2014, looking to beat Arizona on two straight occasions.
Arizona's Key Additions: Signed G/OT Justin Pugh (Giants), QB Sam Bradford (Vikings), QB Mike Glennon (Bears), WR Brice Butler (Cowboys), drafted QB Josh Rosen (UCLA), WR Christian Kirk (Texas A&M), RB Chase Edmonds (Fordham).
Arizona's Key Subtractions: QB Carson Palmer, S Tyrann Mathieu, S Tyvon Branch, CB Tramon Williams, WR John Brown, QB Drew Stanton, RB Adrian Peterson, QB Blaine Gabbert
The Redskins will open up their season on the road for the first time since 2014, looking to avenge their last loss in the desert two years ago. It will be Alex Smith's debut in burgundy and gold, along with several other key additions the team made over the last several months.
This will be the third consecutive year these two organizations have faced each other, as the Redskins defeated the Cardinals 20-15 in Week 15 in a relatively sloppy offensive game that highlighted some of the team's young talent. Defensive lineman Anthony Lanier II had his breakout game, recording two sacks, one of which forced a fumble, and batted down three passes at the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, linebacker Preston Smith grabbed his first interception of the season and returned it 18 yards into Arizona territory.
With all the injuries facing the running backs group last season, Kapri Bibbs, just signed as a free agent, worked alongside Samaje Perine in the backfield and made an immediate impact. He collected four passes for 47 yards and a touchdown on a 36-yard screen pass, and the Redskins provided just enough offense against a Cardinals defense that lost one of its biggest weapons this offseason.
The Cardinals will be without Pro Bowler Tyrann Mathieu, who played in all 16 games last season and combined for 78 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes defensed. IN his five years with the Cardinals, he recorded 11 total interceptions, with his best year coming in 2015 with 89 tackles. Another safety, Tyvon Branch, has remained unsigned after tearing his ACL last year, playing in just nine games with Arizona.
Their secondary took another loss in Tramon Williams, who signed with the Packers this offseason. He put together a strong season, tallying 39 tackles, 12 passes defensed and two interceptions.
Check out the top images from the Washington Redskins' offense in their 2016 Week 13 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals Dec. 4, 2016, at University of Phoenix Stadium.
The biggest shakeup for this Cardinals team will be on offense, specifically at the quarterback position, as Carson Palmer retired and the team declined to move forward with Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert. To fill their vacancies, Arizona signed Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon and took UCLA prospect Josh Rosen in the draft.
The team is hoping the return of running back David Johnson will help their transition to the offense and ease some of the burden. Johnson, one of the premiere dual-threats in the backfield, was lost for the year after suffering a wrist injury in the season opener. He'll look to get back to his 2016 form in which he compiled 1,293 rushing yards and 879 receiving yards.
The additions of Justin Pugh to the offensive line, as well as wide receiver Brice Butler, and draft picks Christian Kirk (wide receiver) and Chase Edmonds (running back) should help fill and supplant the additional losses of John Brown and Adrian Peterson.
Much like the Redskins, injuries were a deciding factor in how the Cardinals fared last season. Both will look to get off on the right foot health-wise, as the Redskins will look to win their season opener for the first time since 2012.