The Patriots welcome the Redskins to Gillette Stadium this week. Fun little tidbit for you- every time the Patriots have played the Redskins in the regular season in the Tom Brady era, the Patriots have made the Super Bowl that season (2003, 2007, 2011)… extremely pointless fact, but there you go. Washington isn’t as bad as people were giving them credit for thus far- lots of people had them locked in for the NFC East cellar. I will take half-credit for predicting them to be second in the NFC East at the beginning of the year, specifically with Sean and Kevin (the season isn’t over, I can’t take full credit). They’re a roster with some quality players. Washington’s problem has been their inconsistency, inability to put it all together, and their self-induced turmoil.
Ranking 23rd in offense and 17th in defense, the Redskins are about as mediocre as it gets. They’re led by Kirk Cousins, who you can count on for one turnover minimum per game. Their backfield consists of the talented but underperforming Alfred Morris, and Matt Jones, a back who lit it up for two weeks before disappearing completely. I’d say their receiving corps is unimpressive, with their leading receiver being Pierre Garçon. They do, however, get a boost from tight end Jordan Reed, who’s definitely a top-ten tight end when healthy.
Defensively their guy is Ryan Kerrigan. Though his numbers don’t show it (only 3.5 sacks in 7 games), he’s one of the better pass rushers in that division, if not the NFC. However, he just broke a bone in his hand two weeks ago, so whether he plays significant time or not remains to be seen. Aside from that, there isn’t much to note about their D. They’ve only come away with 3 interceptions this year, and they allow about 230 yards passing per game. Where they really struggle is stopping the run- opponents have rushed for an average of 128 yards a game, good for 29th in the NFL. Look for the Dion Lewis/LeGarrette Blount combo to have a big day out of the Pats’ backfield.
Washington is motivated for sure, seeing as they’re not out of the playoff picture by any stretch. The NFC East sucks, and it’s the worst division in football this year. Since the Patriots play each NFC East team, a win for Washington will be huge. Most people have heard of Pierre Garçon ‘calling out’ Tom Brady on First Take, but I don’t think so. Skip Bayless was just trying to bait him in to saying something stupid. I think Washington knows exactly how strong the team coming into their house is, and they’re not about to openly disrespect the Patriots.
At the end of the day, this shouldn’t be a close game. I was concerned slightly that this could be a trap game when I looked at the schedule at the beginning of the season, but I don’t see that happening at this point. Tom Brady is 2-1 in his career against Washington, with the loss being way back in 2003. Washington will probably put up some points because Jay Gruden is a smart guy when it comes to offense. I can see the Skins putting up 23-ish points, but the Pats are the Pats. Like I said, I really think the backs will have a big day, namely Dion Lewis because of his pass-catching ability, coupled with his capable running style. Give me the Patriot 37-23.