New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is the most accurate quarterback in the league on passes that travel 20+ yards in the air, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Washington starting safeties Dashon Goldson and Trenton Robinson rank 59th and 61st in the PFF rankings.
Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins ranks 32nd on deep passes. Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, and Duron Harmon all rank in PFF's top 15 for safety ratings.
The deep ball is going to play a major factor this Sunday and it's the Patriots that come out on top.
If we look at the simple box score data that says a "deep pass" is a throw that travels 15 or more yards in the air, we can easily break down the numbers from Pro Football Reference. Brady has completed passes at the 2nd highest rate in the NFL (minimum 15 attempts) with a 55% completion rate, trailing just the Bengals Andy Dalton at 57.7%.
Compare Brady to last year, which was one of his best, and there's been a striking improvement. With arguably a more complete receiving corps in 2014, with Brandon LaFell playing most of the season, Brady completed a mere 38.1% of his passes. He ranked 22nd out of 32 quarterbacks (minimum 50 attempts).
What has improved? He's on pace for 91 attempts, which is negligibly different from his 97 attempts in 2014. Rob Gronkowski is still catching 46% and Julian Edelman is still catching in the mid-30s.
It's still early in the season, but the emergence of both Danny Amendola and Scott Chandler as the joint #5 skill player on the offense with skill down the field (they've combined to catch 6 of 7 targets for 156 yards) seems to help out.
But really it just seems like Brady has much more command of the football this year than in years past. He seems to be picking smarter targets and he's been deadly with his accuracy.
Maybe it's the footballs inflated beyond what the team used in the past, which helps to carry it down the field. Maybe it's as simple as Brady getting better. We saw the quarterback add in mobility to his arsenal last offseason, maybe he spent this year trying to work on his deep ball.
Whatever the reason, the Patriots have added the big pass to their offense and it's been working. Expect it to make a appearance this Sunday.