Most Patriot fans probably have to feel bitter about last week. Despite going to 9-3 with a 31-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots led 31-3 going into the 4th quarter, but gave up 21 points in the 4th quarter to Dan Orlovsky of all quarterbacks. But as the old saying, a win is a win. Now, New England goes to the nation’s capital to take on the 4-8 Washington Redskins. With a win on Sunday, the Patriots will win ten or more game for the ninth straight season.
Washington got off to a great start to the season with Rex Grossman at quarterback by winning three of its first four games. Then, head coach Mike Shanahan switched to John Beck and the season went crumbling down. They do have some nice pieces there with rookie Roy Helu Jr. at running back and they have some nice pass rushers in Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan. The one thing that will hurt Washington in this game is that their top tight end, Fred Davis, and left tackle Trent Williams are out the rest of the year due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. However, is this a trap game for the Patriots with the Denver Broncos coming up next week?
Here are my keys to watch for at Fedex Field on Sunday:
You Say Goodbye, I say Helu: One of the things that Mike Shanahan has been good at is a head coach is taking an unknown running back and turning him into a success. We have seen Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary in the past, but slide in Roy Helu Jr. The fourth round pick out of Nebraska is starting to emerge at the position with 23 carries and 100+ yards in each of the last two games. The yards per carry is a huge thing to keep an on since Helu is averaging close to five yards per carry. Once again, you have to make the Redskins one dimensional without Grossman’s favorite target.
Carter Comes Home: An old Redskin returns home, but it is not Albert Haynesworth. It is Andre Carter. Carter made a huge impact in big games earlier in the year against the Cowboys and Jets, but has not been the same factor as of late. In the last three games, Carter only has .5 sacks. With the playoffs coming up in a month, New England needs to have their best pass rush into getting a groove. Without Trent Williams, the Redskins’ offensive line could be vulnerable for some sacks this week.
Record Breaking Gronk: With Laron Landry out for the Redskins this Sunday, the Patriots will be looking to stretch the field against a cut who thinks he should be cut in DeAngelo Hall. The guy to watch is Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots’ tight end is tied for the most touchdowns in a season by the tight end is thirteen. He would have had fourteen last week, but with Brady throwing him a pass behind the line of scrimmage, the touchdown was negated. Washington is thin in the secondary, so this is where Brady will finally have a 300 yard passing game for the second time in three weeks.
PREDICTION: Take a look at this historic note: The Patriots have never won a game in Washington in the history of their franchise! I think that changes this weekend. Keep in mind that if the Patriots win and the Chiefs stun the Jets at MetLife Stadium, New England will clinch another AFC East Division title. I look for Brady to throw for 300+ yards and three touchdowns in this one. I would like to see the run game get going after just fourteen yards from BenJarvus Green-Ellis last week. I like New England to avoid the trap and win comfortably.
PATRIOTS 31 REDSKINS 17