Week 5 presents an unusual matchup for the Patriots, as they head down to Washington D.C. to play the winless Washington Redskins (0-4) for the first time in four years.
Here are some things to consider entering this game.
1. Will the defense continue to dominate?
The Patriots’ defense has been on a tear over the last four weeks, as they’ve only given up 13 points, and lead the NFL in both sacks and interceptions. Tomorrow’s game looks to be an easier assignment for the Pats, as Washington was inept on offense against a mediocre Giants defense during their Week 4 loss in the Meadowlands. In addition, head coach Jay Gruden has opted to go with Colt McCoy at quarterback (instead of Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins), who will be seeing his first action since breaking his leg last season. It’s reasonable to expect McCoy to have some rust, which could lead to turnovers as a result of errant throws. The Redskins will be playing without two of their top weapons in Vernon Davis and Jordan Reed, while their top receiver, Terry McLaurin is listed as questionable. Washington’s rushing attack is also banged up, as Derrius Guice is still recovering from a knee injury, which will likely thrust the ageless Adrian Peterson into the starting role once again.
The Pats will be without Patrick Chung in the secondary, but if they continue to play their brand of defense, it won’t be too hard for them to overwhelm Washington’s offense.
2. Can the offense rebound from last week?
As most people know, last week featured an atrocious offensive performance for the Patriots, as they were neutralized by a physical Buffalo defense. Luckily for Tom Brady & Co., this week may serve as an antidote to help solve their problems, as Washington currently has one of the NFL’s worst defenses. The Redskins rank fifth-worst in yards allowed, second-worst in points allowed, and fourth-worst in stopping the run. These stats indicate that the Patriots should blowout Washington, but I believe that fortifying the offensive line will be the catalyst for any sort of success on offense. Having a strong offensive line will provide Brady with time to survey the field, and also enable Sony Michel to run the ball effectively.
The Patriots have dealt with a lot of upheaval on the offense over the last few weeks, but dominating a downtrodden team like the Redskins will prove to the rest of the league that they’re still capable of being an elite offensive unit.
3. What will the kicking game look like?
One of the major headlines for the team over the last week was Stephen Gostkowski being added to the injured reserve due to a season-ending hip injury. After working out a few kickers, the Patriots signed veteran Mike Nugent to the active roster, while also adding Younghoe Koo to the practice squad. The Pats have generally had consistency at this position over the last twenty years due to the presence of Gostkowski and his predecessor Adam Vinatieri, which makes an abrupt change alarming for fans. It will be interesting to see how much faith Bill Belichick and the coaching staff have in Nugent, due to the presence of Koo on the practice squad. In addition, if Nugent struggles, would the Pats opt to go for two after scoring touchdowns?
The loss of Stephen Gostkowski will make kicker a position to watch as the season goes along.
- Rex Burkhead (foot) – Out
- Patrick Chung (heel) – Out
- Nate Ebner (groin) – Questionable
- Julian Edelman – Questionable
- Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) – Questionable
- Vernon Davis (concussion) – Out
- Josh Harvey-Clemons (hamstring) – Out
- Jordan Reed (concussion) – Out
- Brandon Scherff (ankle) – Out
- Case Keenum (foot) – Questionable
- Terry McLaurin (hamstring) – Questionable
- Josh Norman (knee) – Questionable
- Chase Roullier (not listed) – Questionable
Prediction: Patriots 30, Redskins 13
Here are my picks for the NFL’s other Week 5 games (except for Thursday Night Football)
Last week: 8-6
Jets at Eagles: Eagles
Jaguars at Panthers: Jaguars
Vikings at Giants: Vikings
Falcons at Texans: Texans
Buccaneers at Saints: Saints
Bills at Titans: Titans
Cardinals at Bengals: Cardinals
Ravens at Steelers: Ravens
Bears at Raiders: Bears
Broncos at Chargers: Chargers
Packers at Cowboys: Cowboys
Colts at Chiefs: Chiefs
Browns at 49ers: Browns