The Patriots host the Commanders in Week 9, taking over a group that might be as unhealthy as they’re although may not be as determined for a win.
Washington made it clear which path it’s entering into earlier this week when it traded Montez Sweat and Chase Younger forward of the deadline as its new possession group reportedly pushed for these strikes. These trades hamper a Commanders group that’s struggled as of late, dropping 5 of its final six video games to drop to 3-5.
Nonetheless, Washington has some notable gamers on its roster that may make a distinction Sunday. Listed below are 5 Commanders gamers to look at after they tackle the Patriots.
Right here’s an underrated storyline coming into Sunday’s sport: The Patriots chosen Bailey Zappe over Sam Howell within the 2022 NFL Draft.
Up to now, the Commanders have gotten extra out of Howell than the Patriots have gotten out of Zappe, even when Zappe fever briefly took over New England final fall. Howell has even put up some stable numbers at factors by means of his first full season as a starter, finishing 66.9 % of his passes for two,146 yards, 13 touchdowns, and eight interceptions with a 90.1 passer score. Howell truly ranks sixth in passing yards coming into Week 8, although he’s among the many six-player group that’s tied for the second-most interceptions thrown this season.
Final week was arguably the very best level of the Howell expertise for the Commanders. The fifth-round choose accomplished 75 % of his passes for 397 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception with a 114 passer score within the Commanders’ 38-31 loss to the Eagles.
Whereas that sport is definitely an outlier, Howell’s put up stable numbers most of the time, recording a passer score of not less than 98 in 5 video games. He had some fairly low lows although in two of the video games he didn’t attain that threshold, throwing 4 picks in opposition to the Payments in Week 3 and accomplished simply 22 of 42 passes in a 14-7 loss to the Giants in Week 7.
Howell additionally has some skill to maneuver the ball along with his legs, dashing for 130 yards, 9 first downs and a landing this season. However his willingness to belief his legs comes with a draw back, too. He’s been sacked a league-high 41 instances this 12 months, with evaluations putting a few of the blame on Howell for that top quantity as he’s on tempo to be the most-sacked quarterback in a single season in NFL historical past.
The Commanders’ second-year operating again has put up some OK numbers thus far this season, however he arguably hasn’t been utilized as a lot as he needs to be.
Washington ranks lifeless final in dashing makes an attempt thus far this season, with Robinson recording 95 of its 159 carries. Robinson’s averaged 4 yards per carry, rating within the middle-of-the-pack amongst operating backs who qualify as he’s put up 384 dashing yards thus far this season.
However one of many issues Robinson has persistently completed effectively at this season is discovering the tip zone. He’s scored six touchdowns this season, placing up a rating in 5 of the Commanders’ first eight video games.
Robinson’s incapability to create huge performs might damage him on Sunday. The Patriots are one of many league’s high run defenses, rating ninth in dashing yards allowed (97.9 per sport) and second in yards allowed per carry (3.4).
McLaurin, who has been one of many sport’s steadiest and most constant receivers since he entered the league in 2019, is on tempo for his fourth consecutive season with 1,000 receiving yards, recording 42 receptions for 495 yards by means of the primary eight video games.
The veteran wideout has but to essentially have a dominant efficiency this season although. His season-high for receiving yards in a sport is 90, which got here within the 14-7 loss to the Giants. He additionally has two different video games with 80-plus receiving yards this season. He additionally solely has two receiving touchdowns this season, which is a superb quantity for a high receiver.
The Patriots have largely stored the opposing group’s No. 1 wideout in verify this season, even after Christian Gonzalez went down with a season-ending damage early in Week 4. Gamers like Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown, Garrett Wilson, CeeDee Lamb, Stefon Diggs, and Davante Adams have all failed to achieve the 80-yard mark in receiving yards in opposition to the Patriots this 12 months. Nevertheless, Hill received some revenge for his comparatively quiet efficiency earlier within the season when he had eight receptions for 112 receiving yards final week.
So, the large query is that if Hill’s efficiency in Week 8 is an indication of issues to return for the Patriots this season as they rely extra on J.C. Jackson and Jack Jones on the surface. Whether it is, possibly McLaurin may have his first main efficiency of the 2023 season on Sunday.
There aren’t many standouts remaining on Washington’s protection after it traded away Sweat and Younger earlier this week. However arguably the Commanders’ finest defensive participant continues to be on their defensive position.
The seven-year professional has emerged as one of many league’s finest defensive tackles in current seasons, incomes Professional Bowl nods in every of the final two years. He recorded 9 sacks in 2021 and seven.5 sacks final 12 months.
Allen is within the midst of one other sturdy 12 months, recording three sacks and 29 mixed tackles with 28 pressures and 18 run stops. He’ll must step up much more with Sweat and Younger out of city as these two edge rushers mixed for 11.5 of the Commanders’ 25 sacks this season.
Sunday permits Allen the chance to probably do the heavy lifting that could be essential for the Commanders to generate a stable go rush. The Patriots’ offensive line has been one of many worst in go safety thus far this 12 months. Nevertheless, they’ve been higher over the past two weeks, when Michael Onwenu moved out to proper deal with. They’ve obtained a combined bag of manufacturing out of their inside offensive, which has allowed a sack and 10 pressures over the past two video games, per Professional Soccer Focus.
The veteran nook could be the one factor standing between Commanders having the worst go protection within the NFL this season.
Washington enters Sunday’s sport with the fourth-most passing yards allowed per sport (374.1) and probably the most passing touchdowns allowed this 12 months (18).
Fuller has largely been exempt for being a cause for that. The eight-year nook has allowed 24 receptions on 36 targets for simply 207 yards, permitting three touchdowns as he’s recorded two interceptions this 12 months, per Professional Soccer Focus.
A great portion of the manufacturing in opposition to Fuller got here in Week 5, when Bears vast receiver DJ Moore had 230 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Fuller was credited for permitting three receptions for 70 yards and two touchdowns in opposition to Moore in that sport.
Fuller’s efficiency has definitely been greater than welcomed by the Commanders, particularly contemplating the struggles of Emmanuel Forbes this 12 months. The rookie nook, who was chosen within the choose previous to the Patriots drafting Gonzalez, has allowed 22 receptions on 30 targets for 446 yards and three touchdowns this 12 months, per PFF. Washington has demoted Forbes, enjoying him for simply 5 snaps in every of the final two video games.
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