The Patriots offense has been terrific, led by Tom Brady, a front runner for the MVP race this season. (USA TODAY Images)
The New England Patriots host the Washington Redskins in week nine. Here’s a few thoughts on the upcoming contest. —
– The Patriots enter this game 7-0, looking dominant in their week eight matchup against the division rival Miami Dolphins. They continue to roll, wrapping their hands around the necks of the AFC East opponents before the calendar even hit November.
– The Redskins head to Gillette Stadium after a bye week. In week seven, they came back in the second half to defeat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-30 in Washington. That, in turn, led to Kirk Cousins emotional outburst in front of reporters — a popular Vine on social media the last two weeks — as he screamed, “You like that!” Settle down, Kirk, act like you’ve been there before.
– Even though the Redskins were expected to have a less than mediocre team going into the 2015 season, they’ve played relatively competitive at times. Sitting at a 3-4 record, four of their seven contests have been within one score.
Three Keys to Victory:
Start Fast: The Redskins know they’re big underdogs in this game. New England is dangerous at home and by starting fast, it puts pressure on their opponent early. A team can come to Gillette and buy-in to what they’ve prepared for all week, but once you get hit in the mouth by a juggernaut like the Pats, your confidence can go down in a hurry.
Make Cousins Uncomfortable: Earlier in the season, Washington was able to run the ball and open up some plays in the passing game. But with their rushing attack limited, like it’s been since week three, it’s put more pressure on Cousins to succeed and carry the offense.
The Patriots can turn this into a lopsided contest in a hurry if they are able to take away the run game, limit the short passing options and force Cousins to push the ball downfield. He’s thrown only one more touchdown pass than interceptions this season (9 TDs, 8 INTs), so the 27-year-old is prone to mistakes.
Cousins has also been sacked at least once in every game this season. Jamie Collins could be let loose on more than one occasion.
Stay Balanced: The Patriots offense has been phenomanal this season. Tom Brady has the passing game humming, Dion Lewis has brought a new dynamic element and they look unstoppable.
The recipe for success is simple. Stay balanced, keep Washington guessing and matriculate the ball down the field. No need to overthink it. The Redskins are the 30th ranked rushed defense, allowing 128.4 yards-per-game. A heavy dose of Brady, paired with LeGarrette Blount and Lewis on the ground, should lead to big numbers offensively.
Patriots 38, Redskins 20
The Patriots should handle Washington with relative ease. I don’t love predicting blowouts, but this could get ugly in a hurry. The Redskins have a lot of holes on their roster, key players injured and a quarterback that’s playing at a subpar level.
The undefeated talk that’s taken over Boston radio this past week is premature, but don’t expect New England to drop this game. Plain and simple, the Patriots are a much better team and look for them to blow this game wide open, especially if Washington makes any mistakes early in the contest.
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