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Week Nine Preview: Patriots vs. Redskins

The undefeated Patriots welcome the Washington Redskins to Gillette as they continue their 2015 tour through the NFC East. Let's take a look at who has the advantage in specific areas and determine who will come out on top Sunday afternoon.

When the Patriots Run: The Patriots have thrown the ball like crazy in 2015, but like I say every week, it's all about the gameplan and who they're playing. Bill Belichick is always going to attack a teams weaknesses, and the Redskins have a major weakness defending the run. Washington allows 4.9 yards per rush and the Patriots have healthy and hungry running backs that want to gain as many yards possible on the few carries they receive. LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis will both have solid games and will make the play-action passing game even more dangerous. Washington has allowed 587 yards in the last three games, so don't be surprised if New England runs for 150. Advantage, Patriots.

When the Patriots Pass: Washington has actually been pretty good defending the pass in 2015; they allow 232 passing yards per game and are ranked ninth in the NFL. There is one issue with this ranking though- the Redskins only faced one great passing offense in Atlanta and the Patriots have proven that they can throw on everyone. The Patriots also have a huge advantage in the passing game because not only will they use their bread and butter short game, they'll also have play-action in their arsenal because the running game is going to get rolling Sunday. Again, Washington is pretty good, but this is the New England Patriots passing game we're talking about. Advantage, Patriots.

When the Redskins Run: When the season began, most expected Alfred Morris to continue to be the bellcow in Washington, but Jay Gruden clearly had different plans. Matt Jones had a pair of strong games and has cut Morris' carries in half, a development that looked to help the 'Skins, but their 23rd ranked running game proves that the addition of Morris to the rotation hasn't helped as much as they may think. New England has improved dramatically defending the run and their 4.2 yards allowed stat is very deceiving; teams haven't been able to run as much as they would like so the rushes against the Patriots are amongst the lowest in the NFL, but another reason teams get away from the run is New England shutting it down over the last 5 games. New England may have had a rough couple weeks defending the run, but the 6th ranked rushing defense is for real and they should shut down the inconsistent Washington running game.

When the Redskins Pass: Washington is currently ranked 18th in the NFL in passing, averaging 241 yards per game. New England may have some depth issues at corner, but their pass rush has been relentless, the safety and linebacker play has been excellent, and the aforementioned cornerbacks have made plays when the Patriots need them. The Redskins are hoping for the return of Desean Jackson to the lineup this week, but with his banged up hamstring could flare up at anytime so they can't rely on him. Kirk Cousins has been average so far this season with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, but he has completed 68.7% of his passes and he led a strong comeback against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the Redskins below average passing game against this New England pass rush, I say- Advantage, New England.

Special Teams: According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots currently boast the top ranked special teams unit in the NFL. It really isn't a surprise considering how New England builds the middle class of their roster and they also value strong kicking and snapping, this year drafting long snapper Joe Cardona in the 5th Round. Washington isn't bad on special teams either, ranked 13th in the league and they've also had some explosive plays. Kick returner Rashad Ross has 15 returns for 400 yards and a touchdown; he's been explosive all year and he will test the Patriots coverage unit. Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen continue to be very consistent and typically give the Patriots the advantage. As always with special teams- Advantage, Patriots.

Coaching Matchup: Bill Belichick vs. Jay Gruden; this is a no-brainer because right now Belichick is playing chess and every other coach is playing checkers. Belichick, like I mentioned earlier, takes advantage of teams weaknesses, players and coaches, and this week will be no different. Belichick also has the advantage of having nine days to prepare for the game, and anytime he has extra time to prepare, his teams typically play great. Gruden isn't a bad coach, but he's up against the best and he simply isn't close to that level yet. Advantage, Patriots.

Prediction: Patriots 51, Redskins 17

I just don't see Washington even competing in this game and it should be a runaway similar to the NE/Jacksonville game. The Patriots should be able to run, pass, and get a strong pass rush on Kirk Cousins, and those three things combined should equal another blowout for the dominant Patriots.

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