The New England Patriots catch a break this week as they travel to face the Redskins in Washington. The Redskins have been an inconsistent team this year who, on their day, have the capabilities to beat anyone.
However after the revelation last week that Trent Williams and Fred Davis would be suspended for the rest of the season after failing drug tests, the Patriots trip to Washington should be a lot more comfortable than they originally thought.
Davis is a huge loss as he has been the team's go-to guy for the most part this season, while Williams is of course a vital cog in the offense being the team's starting left tackle.
Without Davis, expect Redskins' starting quarterback Rex Grossman to zone in on receivers Santana Moss and Jabarr Gaffney.
Despite being quality receivers, Gaffney and Moss are not typically the type of receivers that the Patriots secondary struggles to cover. Even without Pat Chung once again, the Patriots' defense should be able to stifle the Redskins' passing attack allowing them to focus on Roy Helu in the running game.
With their key losses in Williams and Davis, don't expect the Redskins to outscore the Patriots in a shootout.
They may not have to score that many points to come away with a victory however.
One thing that is for certain about the 2011 Washington Redskins, they have a quality defense. Even with missing LaRon Landry for parts of the year, and coming off a poor showing against the New York Jets, the Redskins' defense has been consistently good ranking 15th in the league.
That doesn't tell the whole story however as the Redskins are well suited to play against the Patriots.
With edge rushers in Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo as well as the more pivotal Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen inside, the Redskins should be able to get pressure on Tom Brady without blitzing. Pressuring Brady is always the first thing a defense looks to do going against the Patriots, but the Redskins have the coverage to also stick with the team's receivers.
Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall may not be star receivers, but they are very agile which will allow them to stick with Wes Welker and Deion Branch. Hall and Wilson struggle more with bigger receivers and tight ends rather than quick slot style receivers such as Branch and Welker.
Obviously the Patriots do have the tight ends capable of taking advantage of almost any matchup, but with a healthy LaRon Landry as well as OJ Atogwe and London Fletcher, the Redskins should be able to contain the Patriots' biggest weapons.
The physicality of the Redskins' defense as a whole could see the Patriots running the ball a lot more in Washington, which should lead to more of the rookie Steven Ridley. Ridley could be this games x-factor if he can break off some big runs and force the Redskins' to respect their opposition's running game.
Ultimately the New England Patriots should have too much firepower for the Washington Redskins. It may not be a classic, and it shouldn't be a blowout, but the New England Patriots should manage to come away with a victory today.Tweeting @Cianaf