In this episode of Patriots Fourth And Two. we looked back at the Patriots victory against the Redskins. After that, we talked about the Patriots releasing Ben Watson. Lastly, to finish the show, we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Giants.
Patriots Sitting Pretty at 5-0, Despite winning against ugly competition
The Patriots are 5-0 and one of [at this time] two undefeated teams left in the league. The Redskins are in a complete tailspin and are now 0-5 and have fired Head coach Jay Gruden. So, while the Patriots aren’t a perfect team at 5-0, their opponents at this point of the season are 5-15, with just the Bills being a good team thus far of their opponents.
The Patriots started out slowly and actually trailed for the first time in the 2019 season. By halftime they led by only five at 12-7. After halftime was a different game and they outscored Washington 21-0, completely dominating the game and improving to 3-0 on the road. It should be noted that the team has already won as many games on the road as they won in all of 2018.
So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s close win.
Tom Brady had an overall very solid day, throwing for 348 yards and completing 28 of 42 passes while tossing touchdowns to three different receivers. He also had another very bad red zone decision that resulted in another awful-looking interception. Early in the game, the Redskins pass rush disrupted things, but Brady missed a golden opportunity and overthrew Josh Gordon who had cleanly beaten the coverage.
But despite losing Phillip Dorsett early to a hamstring issue, Brady spread the ball around to nine different receivers. His throw to Brandon Bolden for a 29-yard touchdown was a beautiful touch pass and the one just before that to James White was aces as well. Brady may not an easy touchdown as the one he threw Izzo. The Redskins cleared out to each side and nobody was within the same area code as Izzo. Easy six points.
Nice comeback week for Brady after a rough outing in Buffalo. Completing 67 percent of your passes, throwing three touchdowns and 348 yards with a QB Rating of 106? Nothing wrong with that.
Running Backs: B+
The Patriots got the running game started [read Sony Michel] by going back to the power running game between the tackles in the second half. Once they got the running game going, everything fell into place and the Patriots blew them out. Michel had 91 yards on 18 carries, including a 14-yard touchdown and chipped in with three catches in the passing game for 32 yards. That is something we have been clamoring for and if they can keep it going, then this offense will be much less predictable.
James White turned in a classic JW28 performance with 72 yards combined rushing and receiving, helping keep the sticks moving. He does everything so smoothly, it sometimes looks too easy. Veteran RB Brandon Bolden scored on a beauty of a 29-yard touchdown pass from Brady. It was a carbon-copy of the same route and throw he and Brady connected against the Skins four years ago in Foxboro.
Jakob Johnson was feeling more comfortable out there on Sunday. He laid some tremendous blocks in the running game and while he’s not James Develin, he’s looking like he’s going to be just fine. And he caught a pass to boot.
Wide Receivers: B
Julian Edelman had a fantastic day, catching eight passes for 110 yards and a six yard touchdown catch on nine targets. The only misfire was on a drop where Edelman was wide open and had the ball hit him right in the hands. He had a lot of green in front of him there. But his toe-tapping catch along the sideline was superb. He was giving the Redskins secondary fits yesterday.
Josh Gordon had five catches for 59 yards but the one that got away could have given him a huge game, he blew by his defender and had an easy touchdown and Brady overthrew him. Jakobi Meyers had one catch for six yards
Tight Ends: B
Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo not only got involved in the passing game, but they had their best day blocking as well. LaCosse had one catch for 22 while Izzo had two for 39 including a 10-yard touchdown. LaCosse had a tremendous block on Michel’s 14-yard touchdown run.
Izzo’s touchdown reception was the first by a Patriots tight end since Rob Gronkowski found the end zone last year. His touchdown was a bizarre play where he went down the seam and the Redskins secondary parted like the Red Sea where there was no one even remotely near him. Izzo will take it, his first NFL touchdown. Hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come, especially with the news that Ben Watson will not be activated and was released.
Offensive Line: B
The offensive line had a mixed day. In the first half, they gave up three sacks and could only generate about 10 yards of offense in the ground game. But they got things figured out and started clearing out holes in the running game for Michel to run through. Brady despite the pressure threw for 348 yards and three scores.
Dante Scarnecchia’s group dominated the second half. Now they need to keep it going against the Giants.
Defensive Line: A-
The defensive line once again was very, very good. They gave up a 65-yard run early but there were missed tackles that they don’t normally commit in the secondary. The Redskins generated some garbage time yards late in the game, but between those two moments, the Redskins were stuffed. Adrian Peterson had 18 yards on seven carries.
The defensive line showed multiple fronts, gave Colt McCoy different looks and constantly changed up personnel. They helped put a ton of pressure on McCoy, generating six sacks and eight quarterback hits. Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy are both having excellent starts to the 2019 season.
The Patriots linebackers were once again outstanding. Sunday was Dont’a Hightower’s return to action and he was the player of the game. Hightower was everywhere and the Redskins had no answer for him. Hightower had 8 tackles, 4.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 1 pass defensed, and two quarterback hits.
Jamie Collins had a sack where it looked like he was shot out of a cannon. Chase Winnovich added his fourth sack of the season while Ja’Whaun Bentley read a screen to Chris Thompson and dropped him with a thundering hit.
The secondary had a rather ho-hum day while not allowing a passing touchdown while intercepting an opponent for the 11th time this season [Jason McCourty]. Terry McLaurin was held in check, the backs didn’t produce much in the screen game and the Redskins finished the game with 75 net passing yards and averaged 2.3 yards per pass. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, that is domination.
Special Teams: B
Stephen Gostkowski err, Mike Nugent had another miss on the first extra point of the day in what seems like Groundhog Day. However, Nugent recovered sufficiently and was fine after that, hitting two chip shot field goals and the three extra points.
Jake Bailey had another terrific game and punted six times, averaging 47.7yards per punt. Gunner Olszewski returned three punts for 49 yards. And nearly came away with a broken on down the middle of the field.
The Patriots coaching staff made the adjustments they needed to make offensively, where Josh McDaniels schemed the running game open. He also picked on the Washington linebackers in the passing game, something we pointed to in our Razor’s Edge pregame matchups. Other than that one play on defense, the Redskins were unable to move the ball at all.
We’re on to the Giants and Thursday Night Football, with the puke color rush uniforms. The “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door” 2019 tour continues with the Patriots at 5-0.
The Patriots head home from Washington with their 5-0 record intact and now have a short week to prepare for the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football. The Patriots dominated the second half today and came away with an easy 33-7 win. But for the first 30 minutes it was a close one as the team led only 12-7 at the half.
Very uneven play along the offensive line, going nearly completely away from the running game and some uncharacteristic mental errors cost the team in the first half. But they made their adjustments after halftime and outscored the Redskins 21-0 after intermission. In fact, the Patriots scored 33 unanswered points.
Tom Brady passed for 348 yards and three touchdowns and Sony Michel had a big second half and finished up the day rushing for 91 yards on 18 carries.
After giving up a huge 65-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep to Steven Sims in the first quarter, the Redskins didn’t do much of anything offensively. The Patriots defense pretty much slammed the door shut after that.
Here are our takeaways from the Patriots 33-7 rout of the Redskins.
Brady Has a Bounceback Day And Finishes on a High Note:
It wasn’t all easy but overall Tom Brady had an outstanding day completing 28-42 for 348 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. In the second quarter, Brady had a red zone interception for the second week in a row.
But his three touchdowns gave him #600 for his career counting regular and postseason. Ryan Izzo is also the 72nd player to catch a touchdown from Brady. He passed Brett Favre for third all-time on the list of career passing yards. With 17 yards on Thursday, he’ll surpass Peyton Manning on the list for the #2 QB in terms of passing yards.
Brady spread the ball out to nine different receivers with three different ones [Edelman, Brandon Bolden and Ryan Izzo] scoring touchdowns. Edelman was his favorite target and had 8 catches for 110 yards and a score on 9 targets.
The Offensive Line Struggled Overall in the First Half and With Protection All Game:
The Redskins came in with the 2nd least amount of sacks in the NFL today. But they registered four sacks of Brady, and for the most part rushed only three. They registered one sack by rushing just two. The offensive line also struggled to open holes in the running game where the Skins have been getting gashed all year long.
But their adjustments worked and they began to run the ball much more effectively in the second half. Sony Michel got 91 yards on 18 carries overall with most of it coming after halftime, and most of that came running between the tackles.
With the running game going in the second half, the passing game clicked much better and the team scored three second-half touchdowns with Brady giving way to Jarrett Stidham for the final eight minutes. After running for 19 yards in the first half, the team finished with 130 yards on the ground. Maybe they can carry this over into next week.
The Defense Had Another Huge Day, Led By Dont’a Hightower:
We mentioned the hiccup in the early going on the Sims’ run for a TD, both McCourty twins had a shot at bringing him down, but give Sims credit for a beauty of a run. Kyle Van Noy was screaming for a flag for holding and Scott Zolak mentioned it as well. But after looking at the replay, it didn’t seem so.
After that, the defense was lights out. Washington had just 220 yards of offense and was just 1-11 on third down. Colt McCoy ended up with just 75 yards net passing yardage. The unit got six more sacks, eight quarterback hits, forced an interception and two fumbles recovering one.
Hightower was immense. He had eight tackles, four tackles for a loss, a pass defensed, one and a half sacks and two quarterback hits. He was a disruptive pain in the backside for McCoy and the Redskins offense all day long.
Sony Michel Got Untracked Today And Contributed in the Passing Game:
Michel has had a frustrating start to the season. But the coaches haven’t lost sight of the fact that he was a very important cog in their postseason run a year ago. After another frustrating first half, Michel and his offensive line got going by running between the tackles.
Michel had a beauty of a 25-yard run midway through the third quarter. He showed great patience and then with a nifty cut making a man miss [gasp!] before cutting to the outside and rolling for a really nice pickup before being knocked out of bounds. He finished off the drive with another really nice run, a 14-yard touchdown run. So, along with his 91-yards on the ground, Michel added another 32 on three pass receptions. It was nice to see the team getting him involved in the passing game.
James White and Brandon Bolden also chipped in nicely today. White had 72-yards combined rushing and receiving while Bolden had a pretty 29-yard touchdown pass from Brady where he ran a wheel route, isolated on a linebacker and Brady made a beautiful pass, dropping it right in the bucket.
Mike Nugent Doesn’t Fill the Foxboro Faithful With Hope:
After the Sims touchdown, Brady led the Patriots on a beautiful scoring drive, six plays, 75 yards, capped off with a Brady pass to Julian Edelman from the six to make it 7-6. Mike Nugent, who replaced the injured Stephen Gostkowski comes on for the extra point and pushes it wide right…by a large margin.
You could feel the collective groan across New England. Nugent settled down and made two chip shot field goals from 23 and 37 yards. And then he made all three extra points after that, but it wasn’t the kind of start that anyone wanted to see.
We’ll have to see how things play out but after five games in the season, the Patriots have missed five extra points. The last time they missed that many was back in 1988. So, we’ll be watching how this develops. Bill Belichick likes veterans to handle the kicking duties. Jake Bailey, on the other hand, continued his stellar rookie season, punting six times for a 47.7-yard average.
The Patriots head back out on the road this week and are taking on the winless Washington Redskins in Landover, MD on Sunday.
We posted our keys to the game and our positional matchups on Thursday and today we’ll look at the different players from a New England perspective that we’ll be watching if they wish to continue their undefeated run thus far. Bill Belichick has been talking up the 0-4 Redskins all week so that there is no letdown against a lesser opponent.
Here are our Patriots players to watch this week down in Washington as the Patriots take on the Redskins and try to improve to 5-0.
The Patriots haven’t run the ball well this year and have averaged just 91.3 yards per game. And Sony Michel has had a rough time of it early averaging just 2.7 yards per rushing attempt in 2019. Part of the reason the running game has struggled is on the offensive line where they’ve had several injuries. And let’s not forget that last season’s tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen were outstanding blockers. Everything factors in. And of course, perhaps Michel is a tad slow in getting to the hole.
But this week, the Patriots are facing a Redskins team that is allowing 147.5 yards per game and 4.7 yards per rush. Last week they allowed 164 yards to a Giants team that was missing Saquon Barkley. So, the opportunities are there for him to get untracked this week and start building something for the rest of the season when the schedule gets tougher.
Look for Michel to get a lot of work this week, especially if the team can get off to an early lead. The Patriots should be able to run the ball effectively and Michel will be one of the key players to watch this week as the offense looks to rebound after a tough week in Buffalo the week before. Michel’s battery mates, James White and Rex Burkhead should be very active in the passing game…maybe time to get Sony a few looks too, Josh???
Kyle Van Noy:
The Patriots and Bill Belichick have had a good record of bringing in veterans from other teams and finding a role for them where they either prolong their career or accomplish more than anyone ever thought possible. Van Noy is arguably one of Belichick’s biggest steals. Drafted by the Lions with the 40th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Van Noy was highly thought of as a prospect. But the Lions never used his skills correctly and they unloaded him and a 7th round draft pick for a Patriots sixth-round pick in 2016.
Belichick has found a way to maximize Van Noy’s talent and his career has taken off in New England. He’s one of their most versatile and important defensive players on the roster. Last week he was the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Week after his game against Buffalo.
With the Redskins on tap for this week, we look for Van Noy to be a big part in trying to keep RB Adrian Peterson from getting untracked in the running game and for him to play close to RB Chris Thompson who has been very good for the Redskins out of the backfield with 20 catches for 251 yards, [12.6 yard average].
Bill Belichick made it a point earlier this week to mention Redskins rookie outside linebacker Montez Sweat as one of Washington’s dangerous defensive players. Sweat was a first-round pick by Washington this spring [26th overall] one of two Redskins pick in the first round, [Dwayne Haskins #15].
Sweat is still learning his craft in the NFL but after the first two games where he struggled, he’s picked up his game and got his first NFL sack in Week 3 against the Bears. He’ll be rushing from Tom Brady’s blindside on the left. He’ll be taking on veteran Marshall Newhouse on that side.
When Belichick mentions something, it isn’t normally to hear himself talk, so this area will be a point of emphasis for the team this week. Newhouse is going against an athletic, rookie pass rusher who ran a blistering [4.41] time in the 40 at the Combine. But the Patriots may be looking to run the ball to the left this week away from Ryan Kerrigan. That means Newhouse will be taking on the rookie in trying to get the RBs to the second level.
Gilmore’s rise among the NFL’s best cornerbacks means that he routinely gets the opponent’s best wide receiver. The veteran who always speaks quietly but confidently is the opposite of the many other brash but mostly less talented corners in the game.
Gilmore has an intriguing matchup this week with the rookie speedster Terry McLaurin from Ohio State who is off to a tremendous start to his career. McLaurin who runs a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash has set a rookie record with at least five catches and a touchdown in each of his first three games. He can be a legitimate big play, deep threat receiver in the league. He missed the Giants game with a hamstring issue but was back at practice this week, albeit in a limited capacity. He may be a game-time decision.
If he does play this week, this will be a matchup to watch. The Redskins know, it will be hard to slowly move the ball down the field against this Patriots defense, they will have to get some chunk plays in the passing game. And Gilmore, who is among the very best in the league will be matched up with the very talented rookie.
We were tempted to go with Tom Brady here, since all of the hot-take dolts on the national front drool over the Monday beat whenever Brady has [very infrequently] a bad day. But Brady rarely has two bad games in a row, and we expect him to be sharp this week. So, we’re going with Ben Watson, fresh off his four-game vacation, courtesy of the league office. Watson was back to practice this week, and it isn’t even certain that he’ll play yet, but we’re going on the assumption [dangerous game there] that he will indeed by activated and play this Sunday.
And the Patriots could surely use him too. Julian Edelman is playing with banged-up ribs, Josh Gordon has a knee issue that just popped up on the injury report and … oh yes, the current tight ends have been non-factors in the passing game and haven’t set the world on fire blocking either.
While Watson was never known as a devastating blocker, he can at least hold his own and in the passing game, although 38 years old, he still runs well and can challenge the seams which should open up things a bit for the wide receivers underneath.
The Patriots are back on the road in Week 5, as they head to our nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins. With a win on Sunday, the Patriots will improve to 5-0 on the season and go 3-0 on the road, where they won only three games away from home in 2018.
This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, October 6 at 1:00 PM ET and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Greg Gumbel will handle play-by-play duties with Trent Green as the color analyst. Melanie Collins will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.
The Patriots (4-0) beat the Buffalo Bills 16-10 behind another outstanding defensive effort. New England had four interceptions and sacked Bills QBs five times
The Redskins (0-4) lost to the Giants 24-3. QB Case Keenum was replaced early in the second quarter for rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. .
We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.
The Patriots and Redskins, although frequent preseason opponents, have met on 10 times in the regular season. Although Washington holds a 6-4 advantage overall in the all-time series, the Patriots have won the last three meetings including a 27-10 win over the Skins in Gillette Stadium back in the 2015 season.
Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.
First up is the Patriots offense:
Patriots RBs vs Redskins Front Seven –Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots running game has been mired in mediocrity at the quarter pole of the season. As a team, they are averaging just 91.3 yards per game [24th in the NFL] and a measly 3.2 yards per attempt in 2019. Injuries all along the offensive line have certainly played a part and running back Sony Michel has had precious little room to operate. However, he could hit the hole a tad quicker to help things a bit.
Fullback James Develin was placed in IR but Jakob Johnson showed some promise in the Bills game. Rex Burkhead was nursing an injured foot last week and had only a single touch against Buffalo after being the go-to guy in the first three games. James White and Brandon Bolden will chip in as well.
Washington has been really struggling against the run so far this season and is allowing a whopping 147.5 yards per game on the ground and 4.7 yards per rush. Washington plays a base 3-4 front and they are getting pushed around. Although NT Daron Payne is having a solid season. He’s been the bright spot for a defense reeling. Last week Washington gave up 164 yards on the ground to a Giants team without Saquon Barkley.
This will be a good week to get the running game untracked a bit and have Michel getting some positive yardage against a porous run defense. Don’t be surprised to see Brandon Bolden continue to get some play in the mix while Burkhead nurses his foot back to health.
Patriots WRs vs Redskins Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots passing game had a rough afternoon in Buffalo last week, Tom Brady had the worst statistical game since 2006. The Bills secondary effectively shut down the wide receivers. With Julian Edelman banged up [ribs] and now Josh Gordon limited with a knee issue, the passing game will be a key area to watch on Sunday.
But Ben Watson should be back in the fold on Sunday, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The Patriots tight ends have been largely invisible for the first quarter of the season. It is pretty telling that safety Devin McCourty has caught as many passes [4 interceptions] as the TE group has caught overall. Look for Watson to attack the seams and open things up underneath. Burkhead and White out of the backfield should see plenty of passes coming their way.
Washington’s pass defense is middle of the road [251 yards per game, 18th in the NFL] but that is a bit of a smoke and mirror stat since teams have been running the ball on them at will. Without the benefit of a good pass rush other than Ryan Kerrigan, teams are completing 77.8 percent of the passes their attempting. Their third-down defense is allowing a whopping 63 percent of conversions. Of their top four cornerbacks, only Quinton Dunbar is performing well. Opposing QBs have a 29.9 QB rating when targeting him. The others including Josh Norman 121.7, Jimmy Moreland, 131.5, and Fabian Moreau, 112.0 are not getting it done.
Look for Brady to isolate White and Burkhead on the linebackers frequently and pick his spots with the WRs outside. We look for Jakobi Meyers to perhaps get some looks in the game this week.
Next up the Redskins offense:
Redskins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England
The Patriots front seven has been outstanding against the run allowing just 61.3 yards per game [2nd overall]. And despite the big game from the ageless Frank Gore a week ago, most of his production came on two carries where the defense made correctable mistakes, mistakes that no doubt was played in the film room this week. Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy have been terrific at slowing the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up.
Washington has struggled to run the ball averaging just 49.7 yards per game, and 2.9 yards per rushing attempt in 2019. Like New England, injuries to the OL have crippled them. Left tackle Trent Williams has been a holdout, center Chase Roullier and right guard Brandon Scherf are banged up. Adrian Peterson has had nowhere to run and is averaging just 2.7 yards per attempt.
With their QB position in total flux right now, the Redskins are going to have to try to run the ball to take the pressure off whoever gets the start, [my money is on Colt McCoy this week]. With the way the Patriots front seven has been defending the run, I expect New England to win this matchup easily.
Redskins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England
The Redskins passing game has been middle of the road [246 yards per game, 16th] but with Case Keenum being benched and questionable for this one due to an injury, the question is who plays on Sunday? Jay Gruden, in a bit of gamesmanship, was asked about their QB plan for Sunday and replied that they didn’t have one. Haskins showed a week ago that he’s not ready. So I believe they’ll go with Colt McCoy.
The Redskins have two speedsters on the outside, rookie Terry McLaurin and Paul Richardson. McLaurin missed the game against the Giants due to a hamstring problem and is questionable for this one. But he’s been outstanding. Washington QBs targeting him thus far have a 141.8 QB rating. Chris Thompson has been a reliable target out of the backfield and has 20 catches for 251 yards. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are both banged up and may each miss this week.
The Patriots pass defense has been excellent thus far in 2019 allowing 181.8 yards per game [2nd in the NFL] and has racked up 18 sacks and 10 interceptions. Look for the Patriots to unleash the hounds on Sunday. With a running game that can’t get untracked, the Redskins should be in obvious passing situations most of the game. That is a recipe for the defense to attack.
Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Washington
The Patriots Stephen Gostkowski was placed on IR [hip surgery] on Wednesday and as of this posting, the Patriots don’t even have a kicker on the roster. They’re holding tryouts
Next up, who wins and why…
The Patriots are facing a team that is beaten up physically and reeling mentally. And yet, many fans and media members chuckle at Bill Belichick as he sings the praises of the Redskins as if they are 4-0 instead of the opposite. That’s why the team’s winning percentage is, and continues to be far above the rest of the league for the past 19 years. They rarely, if ever, play down to the level of their competition. In this sense, Belichick is the anti-Tomlin, and the team is much better for it.
Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:
Running Game Takes Over – Look for the Patriots to try to establish the run early in this game and set the tone for the afternoon. With a strong showing in the running game, it will open up play action passing and should help Tom Brady have a big day throwing the ball.
On the flip side of the coin, controlling the Washington running game will force the game into the hands of whoever is the QB this week. With the way the secondary has been playing, coupled with the pressure the front seven has been getting, it is a recipe for success. Look for the defense to continue its very aggressive approach.
Win Third Downs – The Patriots offense struggled last week against an overall excellent Buffalo defense [5-18]. That should change this week. Washington’s defense is allowing an average of 63 percent of third downs to be converted. Even worse, opposing QBs are completing 87percent of passes attempted on third down. If the running game gets untracked, like we envision, that trend will continue.
The Redskins have struggled on 3rd down offensively converting only 12 of 42 attempts [28.5 percent]. Their inability to run the ball has forced them into too many third and long attempts. Look for the Patriots to dominate 3rd down defensively again.
***Insane Stat Time*** – The Patriots defense has more turnovers  than 3rd down conversions they’ve allowed, . Overall, the Patriots defense has been outstanding on 3rd down [7-52, 13 percent].
Keep Creating Turnovers – The Patriots are +6 in the turnover department, while the Redskins are -3. See above insane stat line, the only way Washington can hope to pull an upset is to protect the ball, which is something they haven’t done, and force the Patriots into some turnovers.
The way the defense has been playing very opportunistic football, we expect this trend to continue on Sunday as Bill Belichick knows that this team they’re facing is ripe for packing it in, if they get up to a nice lead early.
This should be a game where the Patriots should take care of business early and win easily. Jay Gruden is definitely on the hot seat in Washington, but with the interference of owner Daniel Snyder, the once prime Redskins job is now one, that won’t be highly sought after. The front office is no doubt pushing Gruden to start Haskins in this one, although he showed last week [and Gruden knew] that he wasn’t ready. Gruden will try to go with Colt McCoy in our opinion but his hand may be forced here.
Don’t expect a lot of fireworks in this one. I expect a methodical, workman-like approach for the Patriots on offense, as they eat the clock and keep grinding the ball down the field. Look for James White/Rex Burkhead to have a big game catching the ball as the Patriots roll and move to 5-0. Patriots 35-7
The “Knocking on Seven’s Door” tourheads home to Gillette Stadium on a short week to take on the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football.
The Washington Redskins have dropped a long way from the glory years of Joe Gibbs, the Hogs, Riggo, and the Fun Bunch. Gibbs won three Super Bowls with three different QBs. But they’ve gone through a slew of QBs and head coaches and even brought Gibbs back about 10 years ago, all to no avail.
Washington finally got a new stadium in Landover, MD but has yet to field a team that is remotely close to competing for a Super Bowl. The fans in the D.C. area have always been rabid football fans, dating back to their 1937 beginnings. But the fan base is beginning to turn off from the constant losing and the hiring of coaches that can’t turn the fortunes of the team around.
This year’s team has been beset by injuries galore but the 0-4 start isn’t expected to get much better this week as the Patriots are 16 point road favorites this.
So, here are our first impressions of the Redskins of 2019:
Who is the Quarterback for the Skins on Sunday? Gruden Mum on It:
Washington brought in Alex Smith last year after Kirk Cousins got his big-money contract with the Vikings. Smith suffered a gruesome injury in 2018 and is still out. Case Keenum started the season but after drafting Dwayne Haskins this spring, head coach Jay Gruden was feeling the heat to play the rookie. Gruden made it clear that he wouldn’t put him until he was ready.
But after an 0-3 start and a listless first half against the Giants, Gruden bowed to pressure and put Haskins in the second quarter. As expected, Haskins showed he wasn’t ready yet and the Redskins scored just three points. So with the Patriots coming into town, Gruden made it clear again, that just for the simple fact that they’re facing New England his decision wouldn’t be affected by their opponent.
But now he faces a dilemma. Keenum has been ineffective, but with the different looks and packages that the Patriots have been throwing at QBs thus far, it could be very detrimental to the confidence of a young QB like Haskins. So what do they do? The answer may be Colt McCoy, the veteran QB who is finally getting healthy. Whatever he decides, Gruden isn’t saying anything, playing the “keep New England guessing” game.
Injuries Have Been Tearing the Depth Apart:
The Redskins have been decimated by injuries. We mentioned above that Smith was hurt last year, but this epidemic they’re suffering has really taken a toll. Already minus All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams who wants out of town, the excellent TE Jordan Reed, young speedster WR Terry McClaurin has missed time with a hamstring. Center Chase Rollier as well as 4x Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherf has missed time recently.
With a team that was already going to be hard-pressed to compete in a very competitive NFC East division, this injury bug has been the equivalent of pouring gas on a fire.
It isn’t known if the speedy McLaurin will be ready to go this week, if he is, it will be a huge boost for an offense that is struggling to score points [16.5 avg, 29th in the NFL]. Having backup offensive linemen in against the Patriots defense that has been playing really great football, could also be a recipe for disaster. Even worse is that TE Vernon Davis is in the concussion protocol and may not play this week.
The Running Game [Offense and Defense] Has Been a Sore Spot:
The Redskins running game, even with Adrian Peterson has been abysmal. If you think the Patriots have had issues running the ball, Washington is averaging just 2.9 yards per rushing attempt as a team. And they are gaining an average of 49.7 yards per game, which is 31st in the league. Peterson is the leading ground gainer with 90 yards on 33 carries for an average of just 2.7 yards per rush.
And, like New England, part of the issue can be attributed to the massive influx of new bodies along the offensive line. Coupled with uncertainty at QB and subpar QB play, the offense has struggled. But as bad as the offense has been against the run, the defense may just be worse.
The Redskins defense has been getting gashed by the run and is allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry and 147.5 yards per game with is 29th in the league. That is a big reason why the defense is allowing 29.5 points per game, 31st in the league. With the Patriots also struggling to run the ball this year, this may be a good week to try to reverse that trend. I expect the coaching staff will be poring over film study this week.
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar Has Been a Lone Bright Spot:
Despite the Redskins paying big money for CB Josh Norman, he is having a very forgettable year as are all of the Redskins corners not named Quinton Dunbar. Dunbar has been a true bright spot in the secondary for Washington thus far in 2019.
Opposing wide receivers are averaging 1.1 yards per snap while Dunbar is in coverage. When targeting him, opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of just 29.9. He intercepted Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones on consecutive passes his way in the second quarter of Sunday’s game.
In contrast, opposing QBs targeting Fabian Moreau have a passer rating of 112.0, Josh Norman has an unenviable 121.7 opposing QB rating when he’s targeted while Jimmy Moreland has a 131.5 opposing passer rating when targeted. Redskins opposing QB rating for the team is 111.4 and the Redskins are allowing 63 percent of opposition third-down attempts.
Snyder is Losing His Fan Base:
Daniel Snyder is in danger of losing his fans. Years of constant poor teams and even worse mismanagement is beginning to take a toll on one of the more successful franchises in the NFL.
Washington fans are hardly fickle when it comes to the Redskins. They drew really well all the way back to their first year in 1937. Through tough times in the 1950s and 60s, fans loved their Redskins icons, Sonny Jurgensen, Charley Taylor, and Sam Huff. George Allen got the city super excited for an all-too-brief time in the 70s which included a Super Bowl appearance.
Joe Gibbs came along and built a Super Bowl winner in the early 80s and a Skins ticket became the hottest item in town. But those days are long gone and the fans are no longer buying the “we’ll get ‘em next year” mentality. According to 106.7 The Fans’ Rick Snider, season ticket sales are down to about 20,000.
Snider added that opposing fans have outnumbered Skins fans for the first two home games of 2019. This weekend it is expected to be a Patriots crowd in Landover, something that was unbelievable in the Gibbs era. Snyder needs to get the fans’ loyalty back or he’s in danger of losing his team. Maybe that is what Redskins fans are waiting for.
The NFL announced the 2018 preseason schedule earlier today and the Patriots preseason slate has several familiar foes.
The Pats will be at home for their first two weeks of the preseason against the Washington Redskins and then against the Philadelphia Eagles in a rematch of the two Super Bowl teams in Week 2. They then travel to Carolina in Week 3. And it wouldn’t be preseason with finishing off with the New York Giants in Week 4 at the Meadowlands. The exact dates and times will be announced at a later date.
According to the Patriots website, their three most frequent preseason opponents in franchise history are the Giants (27), Eagles (22) and Redskins (21).
The Patriots held joint practices together at their training camp location in the 2014 summer before the regular season. The Patriots hosted the Philadelphia Eagles for joint practices also during 2014 in front of huge crowds on the Gillette practice fields.
It will be the fourth time in five years, they’ve met Philadelphia in the preseason’s Week 3 and the 14 years in a row that the Patriots and Giants finish their preseason slate playing one another.
We’ll post the dates of the games as soon as they become available. Now the countdown begins for minicamp and of course training camp.
The Patriots versus Raiders in Mexico City highlights a decent slate of pro football games in Week 11. Four games in particular stand out, conveniently with one in each time slot.
The day kicks off with a matchup of division leaders, a rarity in the early time slot. The 7-2 Rams have won four straight and bring their top ranked offense (32.9 ppg) to Minnesota. The 7-2 Vikings have won five in a row and are allowing just 18.3 points per game. Minnesota is listed as a 2½ point favorite.
The Patriots and Raiders renew their decades long rivalry in the late afternoon time slot. New England puts a five game winning streak on the line in their second consecutive game on the road at high altitude. The Patriots need a win to keep pace with Pittsburgh for the best record in the AFC, and to maintain their two game lead in the AFC East. 4-5 Oakland has been inconsistent this year but still possess plenty of talent on offense. The Raiders need a victory to keep hopes of winning the AFC West alive.
Sunday night has a good game with Philadelphia at Dallas. The Eagles own the NFL’s best record at 8-1, and have a league-high seven game winning streak. The 5-4 Cowboys need a win to stay in contention for a wild card spot, as nine other NFC teams have at least five wins. With all that has been happening off the field for Jerry Jones, a victory would be sweet. The Jerrah now knows first hand with what it is like to be on the wrong side of Roger Goodell’s erratic system of lies punishment.
Week 11 wraps up with a good game on Monday Night. 5-4 Atlanta travels to Seattle to play the 6-3 Seahawks. The defending NFC champs are in third place, two games behind New Orleans. The Falcons need a win here to not only stay close in the NFC South, but to just keep up as a wild card contender. Seattle is only one game behind the Rams in the NFC West but they have bigger issues. The Seahawks will be without Pro Bowl CB Richard Sherman (ruptured Achilles’ tendon) and Pro Bowl SS Kam Chancellor (neck stinger).
For a full list of announcers and to see what games are being broadcast in your are, please check JP Kirby’s 506 Sports.
Early Games on Fox
5-4 Detroit Lions at 3-6 Chicago Bears
Lions favored by 3; over/under 41 points; money line -150, +130
The Bears continue to find a way to lose close games. Mitch Trubisky has a bright future but right now he’s going through the growing pains of being a rookie quarterback on a bad football team.
Pick: Lions 21, Bears 17
Detroit -3, under 41
3-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 4-5 Miami Dolphins
Pick’em; over/under 41½ points; money line -110, -110
How much of a distraction will the Uber allegations against Jameis Winston be for the Bucs? This game comes down to which CB gets burnt more badly, Miami’s Xavien Howard or Tampa’s nickel duo of Javien Elliott and Robert McClain.
Pick: Buccaneers 20, Dolphins 17
Tampa Bay -0, under 41½
7-2 Los Angeles Rams at 7-2 Minnesota Vikings
Vikings favored by 2½; over/under 45½ points; money line -135, +115
Most of the talk has been about Jared Goff and the #1 LA offense against a tough Viking defense. The Rams are well balanced, with Aaron Donald leading the way in Wade Phillips’ defense. LA is allowing just 18.0 points per game and has forced 19 turnovers. Keep an eye on Viking WR Adam Thielen. The D-2 receiver has five games with at least 90 yards receiving, and at least five receptions in all nine games.
Pick: Rams 24, Vikings 20
Los Angeles +2½, under 45½
4-5 Washington Redskins at 7-2 New Orleans Saints
Saints favored by 7½; over/under 51½ points; money line -380, +310
The Saints are playing well in all three phases of the game. The offense is far more productive with more emphasis on the running game, keeping opposing defenses off balance. Net result is a 7-game winning streak, tied with Philadelphia for the longest in the NFL this season. Make that eight straight over the injury depleted Skins.
Pick: Saints 31, Redskins 21
New Orleans -7½, over 51½
4-5 Arizona Cardinals at 3-6 Houston Texans
Texans favored by 1½; over/under 37½ points; money line -125, +105
You want to know why ratings are down? Games where the starting quarterbacks are Tom Savage and Drew Stanton may have something to do with that.
Pick: Cardinals 19, Texans 16
Arizona +1½, under 37½
Early Games on CBS
6-3 Kansas City Chiefs at 1-8 New York Giants
Chiefs favored by 10; over/under 46 points; money line -500, +400
Remember when preseason prognosticators were predicting that the Giants would win the division and contend for the Super Bowl? Now Big Blue is a double-digit underdog at home and instead in contention for the number one pick in the 2018 draft.
Pick: Chiefs 34, Giants 10
Kansas City -10, under 46
4-5 Baltimore Ravens at 5-4 Green Bay Packers
Ravens favored by 2; over/under 38 points; money line -130, +110
Brett Hundley looked awful in his first two games, but was improved last week. Packer RB Jamaal will need a productive day to counter Baltimore’s blitz-heavy defense on a cold (33) and windy (12-25) day.
Pick: Packers 20, Ravens 17
Green Bay +2, under 38
6-3 Jacksonville Jaguars at 0-9 Cleveland Browns
Jaguars favored by 7½; over/under 37 points; money line -380, +310
Jacksonville may be without their top four receivers, so it will be imperative that the Jags get their running game in gear. Jacksonville’s offensive line has performed well this year, with the Jaguars averaging an NFL best 163 yards rushing per game. Cleveland’s run defense has been their lone bright spot. The Browns are allowing an NFL-low 3.1 yards per carry and just 86 yards rushing per game.
Pick: Browns 20, Jaguars 16
Cleveland +7½, under 37
Late Afternoon Games
5-4 Buffalo Bills at 3-6 Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 ET on Fox
Chargers favored by 5½; over/under 41½ points; money line -250, +210
Nathan Peterman gets the start at quarterback over benched Tyrod Taylor. Expecting a rookie QB to win on the road in his first NFL start is a tall order, even though the Chargers have virtually no home field advantage.
Pick: Chargers 27, Bills 16
Los Angeles -5½, over 41½
3-6 Cincinnati Bengals at 3-6 Denver Broncos, 4:25 ET on CBS
Broncos favored by 2½; over/under 38½ points; money line -145, +125
Denver has lost five straight and Bronco fans are pointing their fingers at everybody, including John Elway. If the Bengal secondary could not cover Tennessee receivers last week, what will they do at Mile High against Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders?
Pick: Broncos 23, Bengals 20
Denver -2½, over 38½
7-2 New England Patriots vs 4-5 Oakland Raiders
4:25 pm ET on CBS, at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City
Patriots favored by 7; over/under 54½ points; money line -320, +270
Jack Tatum. Daryl Stingley. Russ Francis. George Atkinson. Phil Villapiano. Ray Hamilton. Ben Dreith. Stop whining about the Tuck Rule, Raider fans. You scored six points on your final ten possessions of that game, and failed to stop the Patriots on three of their last four possessions.Pats improve to 19-15-1 all time in this series.
Pick: Patriots 31, Raiders 17
New England -7, under 54½
Prime Time Games
8-1 Philadelphia Eagles at 5-4 Dallas Cowboys
Sunday night at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Eagles favored by 5½; over/under 48 points; money line -240, +200
Carson Wentz has thrown 17 touchdown passes against three interceptions in the last five games. Dallas has not been able to contain good quarterbacks and high scoring offenses this year. The Cowboys gave up 35 points in home losses to the Packers and Rams, and 27 points at Atlanta last week.
Pick: Eagles 31, Cowboys 20
Philadelphia -5½, over 48
5-4 Atlanta Falcons at 6-3 Seattle Seahawks
Seahawks favored by 3; over/under 45 points; money line -150, +130
Monday night at 8:30 pm ET on espn
The Seahawks are in a difficult situation, playing without CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor. Seattle does benefit with the return of FS Earl Thomas, and Atlanta RB Devonta Freeman (concussion) is out. This could easily go either way; it’s tough to pick against Seattle at home. Former Patriot Justin Coleman gets the start at corner in place of Sherman.
Pick: Seahawks 24, Falcons 20
Seattle -3, under 45
7-3 Carolina Panthers
3-7 Indianapolis Colts
4-6 New York Jets
1-9 San Francisco 49ers
The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including this past Thursday’s game between Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.
The good news is that this the bye weeks are over, and that Thanksgiving Day gives us three games to feast on.
On paper the NFL Week 12 schedule does not offer many close games. Eleven games have a spread of 6½ or more and two games list odds of three points or less. The New England Patriots are the heaviest favorites, at -14½ at home versus Miami. Two other home teams are also double-digit favorites. Chicago is at Philadelphia (-11½) and Green Bay plays at Pittsburgh (-12½) next Sunday night.
Home favorites also have the narrowest odds. The Vikings are at Detroit (-1½) in an important NFC North game, and the Rams (-1½) host New Orleans in one of the late afternoon matchups. The only road favorites are Carolina (at the Jets), Tennessee at Indy, Seattle at San Francisco, and Jacksonville at Arizona.
NFL Week 12 Early Odds
Thanksgiving Day, Thursday Nov 24
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions (-1½) 12:30 pm ET on Fox
Los Angeles Chargers at Dallas Cowboys (-4), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
New York Giants at Washington Redskins (-8½), 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Sunday Nov 26 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals (-8)
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-14½)
Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs (-7½)
Sunday Nov 26 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Chicago Bears at Philadelphia Eagles (-11½)
Tampa Bay Bucs at Atlanta Falcons (-9)
Carolina Panthers (-4) at New York Jets
Tennessee Titans (-6½) at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday Nov 26 late afternoon games
Seattle Seahawks (-8½) at San Francisco 49ers, 4:00 pm ET on Fox
New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-1½), 4:30 pm on CBS
Jacksonville Jaguars (-3½) at Arizona Cardinals, 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders (-6½), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-12½), Sunday November 26 on NBC
Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens (-7½), Monday November 27 on espn
At first glance I like the Vikings (+1½), Rams (-1½), Washington (-8½), Bucs +9 and Packers +12½.