The Washington Redskins' upcoming schedule is rated the NFL's easiest, though games against the free-spending AFC West mean it likely is tougher than it appears.
The Redskins' 2001 opponents posted only a .461 winning percentage last season, tied for lowest in the league with the Denver Broncos' opponents, according to a chart published on CBS SportsLine. Washington and Denver each play seven games against clubs who finished .500 or better and six against playoff teams.
However, Washington's schedule includes AFC West residents Denver, the Seattle Seahawks and the San Diego Chargers, three of the offseason's busiest teams. The Broncos figure to improve from 11-5 to a Super Bowl contender; Seattle from 6-10 to nearly that level; and San Diego from 1-15 to respectability.
The Minnesota Vikings have the toughest schedule, with opponents coming off a combined .574 winning percentage. The Vikings play 12 games against clubs who went .500 or better and seven against playoff teams.
HICKS SIGNS WITH CHICAGO
Former Redskins running back Skip Hicks signed a one-year deal yesterday to compete for a starting job on the Chicago Bears.
Hicks, 26, agreed to a contract that included the minimum salary, $418,000, with a signing bonus and incentives that could pay him nearly $1.2 million total, agent Howard Silber said.
"It's a good situation," Silber said. "We think he'll be given a legitimate chance to win the starting job [against incumbent James Allen and rookie Anthony Thomas]. . . . And with [former UCLA teammate] Cade McNown there, Skip should be in a familiar situation."
Hicks set a Redskins rookie record with eight rushing touchdowns in 1998 before losing a battle with Stephen Davis for the starting job in the 1999 preseason. He managed just 78 rushing yards last season, and his one-year, $512,000 tender offer was rescinded May 9 to create salary cap room for fullback Donnell Bennett. …