1. Running Game - The Patriots have struggled to establish their ground game in recent weeks and they're about to face on the best rookie running backs in the league. Roy Helu Jr has developed as a threat in both the running game and the passing game, so the Patriots must treat Helu as the Redskins' version of LeSean McCoy. Take out Helu and the Redskins engine will be extinguished. For the Patriots offense, they must use BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Stevan Ridley, and Danny Woodhead to move the chains and to establish a ground presence. Use them in the passing game. Force the opposing defense to treat them like versatile weapons.
2. Tight Ends - The Redskins' star tight end Fred Davis is out for, ahem, medicinal reasons. He's one of three most important pieces of the Redskins offense, next to Helu and Santana Moss, so the loss of Davis greatly hinders their offense. As a result, the Patriots must limit whoever is his replacement and force the Redskins to only play with Moss and Helu. On the other side, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez need to take advantage of a weak safety group that will be missing starting safety LaRon Landry. Look for the Patriots to take to the seams.
3. Rush the Passer - The battle of the trenches will be extremely important as both teams will field capable pass rushers. The Reskins will play rookie Ryan Kerrigan and veteran Brian Orakpo, while the Patriots will play old man Andre Carter and third down rusher Mark Anderson. Whichever team can generate the more consistent pressure will most likely stop the opposing offense. Pretty simple. The Patriots need to slow down Orakpo and Kerrigan and give Tom Brady enough time to step up in the pocket and make a throw.
4. Secondary - The Patriots will be using another variation in their secondary. Pat Chung remains out, while Sterling Moore has been released. Oh, but Moore wasn't a starter last week, which means that Matthew Slater might have to step up. But who knows if he'll play since the team brought up rookie Malcolm Williams from the practices squad. In a bizarre season where James Ihedigbo is the most consistent performer in the safety group, the question still remains: Who's going to step up? Someone has to.
5. 60 Minutes - Play the whole game. That is all.