Patriots at Redskins: Mailing in a Win from FedEx Field

Posted: December 10, 2011 by ndbohlen in NFL, Patriots, Prediction
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Mike: Nick, we’re in well-worn territory now. After the Jets gave the ‘Skins a fourth quarter thumping, the Pats get to pummel the team with the most racist name in the league. Instead of looking to the numbers, I think I’m just going to focus on what I saw at the game while I was there.

I’ll start with FedEx Field and its fans.  The stadium is actually pretty awesome and has some interesting features. Most notably, the place is loud. Really loud. The entire field level is ringed in that metal fencing that creates such a booming amount of noise that the 12th man is in full effect. I would like to think that the Jets were just making mental errors, but some of the timeouts and lack of communication was clearly caused by the noise.

As for the people making the noise, ‘Skins fans are clearly depressed and desperate for a win. I heard one man scream out, when Washington was facing a 4th down and 5, “Just go for it, you’re 4 and 7!” Instead they lined up to kick the go-ahead field goal, which in turn spurred the Jets to score 21 points to put the game on ice.

So besides being unable to watch this game on TV because of NFL television rules, what are you expecting this weekend when New England waltzes into Washington?

Nick: I’m expecting another Patriots win, that’s what. Let’s count all the reasons why…

First of all, crowd noise doesn’t faze me as a Pats fan. I know the offense isn’t run by Peyton Manning, but I have full faith in Brady running the no-huddle to (near-)perfection, and for Rex Grossman’s ineptitude to completely counteract any home-field advantage.

Besides, a quick lead by the Pats offense (admittedly not their specialty lately) should suck the life out of such a desperate crowd – one that just saw a late fourth-quarter lead evaporate behind three Jets touchdowns with less than five minutes to go. It should be pretty easy to take the wind out of their sails with a couple of massive spikes by Gronk (including his record-breaking 14th receiving TD, I’m calling it now) and a Rex Grossman interception or two.

As a Boston fan, I am an expert in expecting the worst, and Redskins fans definitely fit my two main criteria: lots of losing and a free-spending owner with no idea where he’s throwing his money (see: McNabb, Donovan and Haynesworth, Albert). Plus they’re all jaded from being constantly surrounded by politicians and lobbyists. Exactly two seasons over .500 and one mere playoff win in the last decade will do that to a fan base.

Mike: I was merely commenting. I don’t think the Jets are that used to the same level of noise because Jetlife Stadium is not nearly as loud. Considering that the Jets offense is prone to fits and starts, I think that it sheds little light on just how bad the Redskins are. Even the 12th man couldn’t give the ‘Skins an edge… although it threw off the Jets when during the third quarter when the score was very tight. I doubt it will affect the outcome of the game, but it might impact the quick lead the Patriots will try to create.

More important than their fans, though, the Redskins have quite a running back in Roy Helu. He had his way several times with the Jets defense and put together another 100-yard performance.

Not helping Washington will be the absence of Trent Williams and Fred Davis, both out for the rest of the season for violating the league’s drug policy (otherwise known as the “Puff, Puff, Pass” Rule). Without Trent Williams, the D.C. running game might be seriously slowed down. Fred Davis, meanwhile, is the Redskins’ leading receiver. He made an unbelievable catch last week that demonstrated his unreal talent. That means that the biggest weakness for the Pats, their secondary, will have very little worry about. Yes, there’s always Santana Moss. But he’s so harmless that even I was rooting for him to make catches last week.

Nick: Helu has been impressive lately. But the Pats front seven has been solid all season, and I like their chances behind big Vince Wilfork up front and Jerod Mayo locking it down at linebacker.

This is connected to the suspended Fred Davis and Trent Williams (lockouts lead to bad choices). With Davis out of the passing game and no Williams to create some holes to run through, the Redskins become even more one-dimensional than they already were. (Is there such a thing as no-dimensional? Whoa, existential!) I don’t think the Pats have to worry too much about passes downfield, and can load up the box with their base 4-3 defense instead of throwing out their nickel and dime packages with a bunch of scrawny defensive backs trying to make tough tackles.

Helu will get some yards on the ground, but I think they’ll end up playing from behind and have to turn to Sexy Rexy to try to catch up.

Mike: Helu happens to be the #15 running back in fantasy this year. As a rookie, that ain’t bad. And I agree with you; I think he’s going to keep up with strong statistics for fantasy owners, but it won’t be enough to give his actual team a win this weekend.

On the other side of the ball, Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are pretty dangerous, but from what I saw last Sunday, they’re only mortal. I expect D’Brickashaw Ferguson (D’Brickashaw!) to dominate any rusher in the league and protect Sanchez’s blind side with the strength of the Hulk. But Wayne Hunter? He sounds like a used car salesman.

Sanchez suffered zero sacks. If the Patriots can give Brady that kind of protection, he’ll march his way through those “braves on the warpath,” fighting “for old D.C.”

Nick: I think the Pats offensive line can handle the combination of Orakpo and Kerrigan. They’ve done a decent job keeping Brady on his feet all year, just 21 sacks through 12 games. With a sack rate at just 4.4%, Brady and his O-line are good for the sixth-best rate in the league. Even if Orakpo and Kerrigan manage to burst through the line Aliens-style a couple of times (and I assume they will), it shouldn’t dampen the offensive fireworks too much.

Mike: I disagree with you on the sacks. Not on whether the Pats offensive line has done a good job – they have. But there aren’t many teams in the NFL with that kind of tandem rushing the corners. The Jets’ Ferguson and Hunter were nearly impregnable for their second straight game, but it took a couple of Mark Sanchez scrambles to keep that two-game sack-less streak alive. Tom Brady is great at most things… but not moving. Let’s face it, the Alamo is in Sanchez’s blood. Tom Brady will be eating some grass before the day is done – it will probably be the only highlight for the ‘Skins this Sunday.

Nick: I know Tom Brady isn’t a highly mobile quarterback (hello, understatement), but that isn’t the only way to avoid a sack. Ben Roethlisberger is a pretty mobile quarterback, but he takes a ton of sacks. Same with Vick. For my money, the best way to avoid a sack is to get the ball out quickly, based on diagnosing the defense perfectly and having unbelievable chemistry with the receivers. Brady does that just as well as anybody, certainly better than the Sanchise (hello, worse understatement). He may not scramble away from pressure, but he is great at moving around in the pocket and delivering the ball before pressure gets to him. Will he stay untouched all game? No. But it won’t be a factor.

Mike: True dat. Between Tom Brady chasing Marino’s passing yards record and Gronkowski looking to claim the title of most TD’s by a tight end, it’s inevitable that the game will break open sooner or later. The Pats are only favored by 8 points, which is probably a response to the 4th quarter slow-down against the Colts. Don’t freak out; I know it says nothing about the Patriots defense. But what has happened to the vindictive soul of Bill Belichick? Where did this mercy come from? Against the Colts, no less! Maybe he wants to fly under the radar?

Nick: I actually totally disagree. I think that fourth quarter collapse says everything about the Patriots defense. I know they were in their prevent defense to keep from giving up the big play, but to give allow three touchdowns in one quarter? To Dan Orlovsky? Ugh. Even the offense didn’t even do anything to offset that defensive failure, going all 15 minutes with a first down. Talk about throwing up in my mouth a little bit. Although the bile-induced heartburn was kind of a nice reminder of why I shouldn’t get my hopes up for any sort of playoff success.

Despite the fact that I wanted nothing more than to bludgeon the Colts into oblivion (I mean literally banish them into some alternate dimension), the positive spin I’m going to put on this is that everyone on the Patriots roster was pissed off at how they closed out that game. Even though they walked away with a win, they were “bitter” and “embarrassed.” Now instead of being all smug coming off a shellacking of the Dolts, they will be motivated to work hard and correct their mistakes. And even if they aren’t motivated, Belichick will certainly whip them into shape after such a poor finish. That’s how I’m hoping his vindictive, merciless tyranny reappears, just in time to put the Redskins out of their misery.

Mike: Yes, D.C. is going to thankful that the AFC East is almost done tearing them apart. But even the 23-0 beating from the Bills, the 20-9 shocker at the hands of the Dolphins, and the last-minute 34-19 curb-stomping by the Jets will pale in comparison to this week. Final Score: Patriots 40, Redskins 10

Nick: Pats flay the ‘Skins this week, just not quite as bad as you envision it (you really see them scoring 4 TDs and kicking another 4 FGs to reach 40? Kind of an odd number to predict…). Final Score: Patriots 31, Redskins 16

  1. Thanks, found the article on google, nice post fella

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