With the New England Patriots expected to easily win this game against Washington, they should focus on ironing out kinks in several key areas.
It’s never a good idea to look past your current opponent in the NFL.
Even when two teams are as dramatically mismatched against each other as they are this week with the New England Patriots and the Washington Redskins, there’s a reason the teams actually play these games on the football field and not just in our minds, or digitally through video games or computer simulations.
There’s no doubt about it though – the ‘Skins are huge home underdogs against these Pats. Most oddsmakers have the line in favor of the visitors by more than two touchdowns, and the betting public has largely still put their money on New England to cover the spread… and with good reason.
Whereas Washington seems headed for dramatic changes at head coach, quarterback, running back, and a number of other important positions, New England is finding its groove over a quarter of the way through the regular season.
Antonio Brown is gone, and with him went most of the accompanying drama surrounding the start of this Patriots season. The new storylines coming out of Foxborough have everything to do with Bill Belichick’s defense, which currently ranks No. 1 in the NFL in just about every relevant category. Jamie Collins Sr., Kyle Van Noy, Devin McCourty, and other playmakers have elevated this unit well beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.
Just consider: there’s a very real chance that the Patriots could shut out the Redskins today. Even if they do allow the woeful Washington offense to get some traction, it’s doubtful they’ll surrender a touchdown to the likes of Colt McCoy, Case Keenum, Dwayne Haskins Jr., or an aged Adrian Peterson.
The brightest spot on an otherwise-forgettable Redskins offense this season has been rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin… but even he might get erased this afternoon. Apart from already having to deal with a bum hamstring, McLaurin should see blanket coverage from All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore all day long, which will make it extremely difficult for him (or for anyone else in Washington’s pass-catching corps) to move the ball through the air.
Unfortunately for the Redskins, they probably won’t have more luck on the ground, either. As bad as the Patriots have been in rushing offense (No. 24 currently in the league), the Redskins have been even worse through four games (No. 31). That doesn’t bode well for Washington’s runners, who are going up against the third-best rushing defense in the NFL today.
All in all, the Patriots should win this game going away. As such, they may as well use the opportunity to accomplish the following five goals:
- Jumpstart their struggling run game (particularly with Sony Michel)
- Give Tom Brady a bounceback game after he floundered in Buffalo
- Figure out just what they have in new placekicker Mike Nugent
- Shake off the rust in tight end Benjamin Watson’s first start
- Find more ways to get the ball into the hands of Josh Gordon