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Week 9 X-Factors: New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins

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The prescription for the Redskins defense? Blount Force!
The prescription for the Redskins defense? Blount Force!
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The 7-0 Patriots will host the 3-4 Washington Redskins. While the Redskins are missing a lot of pieces, they can make the pieces they do have work for them. Even though the Patriots are heavily favored in this game, they do need to show up and execute. The Redskins should be good practice for executing what the Patriots likely plan to do against the Giants, when it comes to establishing the run on offense and forcing the opposing QB to throw to the middle of the field by taking away his top weapon on the perimeter on defense. For players who could have a big impact on the game, these are my two picks.

RB LeGarrette Blount: The Washington Redskins have struggled this year in run defense, which could mean opportunities for Blount to put his stamp on the game. I expect to see the Patriots attempt to establish the run early against the Redskins so they can run their play action game and have Rob Gronkowski slip behind the linebackers when they step up on the fake. I expect Lewis to get his touches in both running and catching the ball, but there should be enough touches for Blount. He's probably looking at 15-20 touches with almost all of them being on the ground. In addition to the power run game to set up the play action passing early, the team will be running the ball with Blount when the game is already at hand and they're salting the clock.

DB Patrick Chung: Perhaps the most important player to cover after De'Sean Jackson is Jordan Reed. Patrick Chung will likely draw the coverage assignment on Reed, although I could see the Patriots also employing McCourty in underneath coverage when Duron Harmon is on the field. Chung has a lot of responsibilities in the defense, having to be able to play up in the box as an extra linebacker and cover TEs like a CB would have to cover a WR. Chung has done a good job at neutralizing TEs in the passing game this year, but Reed will be his toughest challenge yet. If Chung is able to limit Reed to a modest output, the Patriots defense should be able to keep Washington under 20 points for the game.