Redskins-Patriots: The basics

Redskins-Patriots: The basics
December 10, 2011, 4:33 pm
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A look at the Patriots-Redskins game:

When: 1 p.m., Sunday.

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Md.

TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf).

Radio: ESPN 980 AM, WWXX 94.3 FM, WWXT 92.7 FM (Larry Michael, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff).

Records: Patriots 9-3, Redskins 4-8.

Last week: The Patriots won 31-24 over Indianapolis; the Redskins lost 34-19 to the Jets.

Line: Patriots by 8.

Injuries: Redskins Out: S LaRon Landry (groin), DT Chris Baker (quad). Probable:: WR Terrence Austin (hamstring), LB London Fletcher (ankle), DE Stephen Bowen (knee), FB Darrel Young (concussion), CB DeAngelo Hall (back), LG Maurice Hurt (knee), QB Rex Grossman (left shoulder), S DeJon Gomes (knee), RT Jammal Brown (hip), P Sav Rocca (ankle). Patriots Out: RT Sebastian Vollmer (backfoot). Doubtful: LB Jermaine Cunningham (hamstring), CB Kyle Arrington (foot), S Patrick Chung (foot), C Dan Connolly (groin), WR Julian Edelman (back), LB Dane Fletcher (thumb), S James Ihedigbo (shoulder), CB Devin McCourty (shoulder), WR Matthew Slater (shoulder), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), RB Shane Vereen (hamstring), C Ryan Wendell (calf), RB Danny Woodhead (abdomen). Probable: WR Wes Welker (knee).

FOUR THINGS TO WATCH1. COVERING GRONK, HERNANDEZ
The Redskins are used to dealing with elite tight ends in the NFC East with Dallas Jason Witten, the Eagles Brent Celek and whoever the Giants have used over the years. But the Patriots have a double dose of trouble.

Second-year players Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have combined for 119 catches for 1,451 yards and 18 touchdowns this year. Gronkowski leads the NFL with 13 scores. In short, theyre a match-up nightmare. Its hard to imagine a Redskins linebacker keeping tabs of them so the best option would be playing nickel or even dime as a base defense and using a cornerback or safety.

It really gives them the luxury to do a number of things, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. I know Bill Belichick has always believed in the tight ends. If you can get two tight ends, it puts a lot of pressure on defenses. They do a great job utilizing them.

2. ACCOUNTING FOR CARTER
The Redskins erred during the 2010 off-season when Andre Carter, not a fit for the 3-4 defense Shanahan shifted to, wasnt traded when he had value coming off an 11-sack season. They kept him around, he played 66 percent of the snaps, had 2.5 sacks and was granted his release.

New England signed him after the lockout and his nine sacks lead the Patriots and are tied for ninth in the league.

Carter could have a good day against projected starting left tackle Sean Locklear, who replaces the suspended Trent Williams. Locklear has been beat for three sacks during his time this year.

3. THE NFLS TOP RECEIVER
What were the Miami Dolphins thinking or not thinking back in 2007 when they decided not to re-sign Wes Welker? Instead, they traded him to the Patriots and the rest is production history.

Welker leads the NFL with 93 catches for 1,253 yards; 18 catches and 162 yards more than the next-closest player. If he really gets on a roll, he could challenge Marvin Harrisons single-season record of 143 catches.

Watching the Colts-Patriots tape, it was interesting to see how Welker isnt strictly a slot receiver he will line up all over the field. Paging DeAngelo Hall. He shadowed Plaxico Burress last week and deservers a shot covering Welker this week.

4. TOUCHDOWNS, NOT FIELD GOALS
Shanahan says throw out the yardage statistic for the Patriots defense theyre last but decent in points allowed and red zone defense. The Redskins are 27th in points and tied for 25th in red zone percentage.

Field goals wont get it done against the Patriots. Its vital for the Redskins to get seven points when they enter the red zone.

In the first 12 games, the Redskins are plus-50 percent in the red zone just four times (Giants 3-4, Rams 1-1, Panthers 2-3, second Dallas game 3-3).

PICK: Patriots 38-21

Contact OHalloran at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com