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New England Patriots Week 14: 5 Keys to Victory for Pats Against Redskins

Soven BerySenior Analyst IDecember 10, 2011

New England Patriots Week 14: 5 Keys to Victory for Pats Against Redskins

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    Last week, the Patriots defense looked worse than a Hollywood celebrity sans makeup. But thankfully this is the NFL and New England has a shot to rebound against a reeling Washington Redskins team. 

    The 'Skins showed promise by starting the season with a solid 3-1 record but then lost six straight and are undergoing more turmoil than Libya. 

    Their next opponents are the tough New England Patriots and Brady and company are favorites heading into FedEx Field.

    Here's how New England can steal the show in our nation's capital.

Pass the Ball

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    Okay, so I'm no Homer when I say this, but passing the ball has to be the top priority for Belichick. The Patriots have turned into a one-trick pony over the season, but the great Tom Brady can and will be able to carry this team.

    New England is ranked second in the league in passing yards and that's mainly because Brady is able to find receivers and create passes that might not be there in the eyes of other quarterbacks. 

    Brady will carve up the 'Skins secondary like my father and his turkey on Thanksgiving day. That will set up the run game and give the Patriots different ways to score. 

Shut Down Jabar Gaffney

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    The Patriots defense is ranked 32nd in the league when it comes to defending the pass. 

    Yup, you read that right. 

    Last. 

    I'm not saying that Rex Grossman is a good quarterback, but if the good Grossman decides to show up, then he will exploit the major flaws in this secondary. Of course, his tight end Fred Davis is not playing so that eases up the job for the defense. 

    But Gaffney can still cause problems for the Patriots. He has 665 yards and three touchdowns on the season. While those aren't godlike numbers, the Patriots have to shut him down in order to win the game. 

Confuse the Corners

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    In Madden '12, the commentary gets very repetitive very fast. But one of my favorite lines from the game is "The quarterback is going to need a jackhammer to get that pass in there." 

    Tom Brady is in possession of that jackhammer. 

    If you give him only a bit of space to fit the ball into, Brady can do it. But he needs his receivers to get that space. 

    Former Patriot and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi notes a moment from Washington's game against the Jets last week. Santonio Holmes faked the in route and had his corner beat. That was a touchdown late in the game for New York. 

    If someone like Ochocinco or Deion Branch can use those same tactics and confuse the Redskins corners, then a touchdown and a win could be on the way. 

Andre Carter

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    I am not a fan of the Patriots defense this year. It's like a gaping black hole. One of the few bright spots this year has been defensive end Andre Carter. 

    The veteran has been part of the league for 11 years. This is first year rocking the blue, red and silver. He also played for five years in a little town called Washington DC. 

    So, yes, this is a homecoming. 

    But for the Patriots to get a win in this game, they need Carter to make tackles and get pressure on Rex Grossman. Carter has 47 tackles and nine sacks on the year so expect him to be a presence on defense. 

    Truthfully, though, the whole defense needs to step up and it starts with the defensive line. This group of men, including Andre Carter, needs to play to the best of their ability and make sure that Rex does not feel comfortable in the pocket. 

Get the Ball to Gronkowski

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    He is simply unstoppable. Once Gronkowski has the ball in his hands, there will be significant damage done to the Redskins defense. 

    He has a cult following and is on pace to shatter multiple tight end records. The man known as "GRONKKK" to Patriots fans is, for lack of better words, a complete beast. 

    Of course, I would love if Gronk got the ball anywhere on the field but they have to target him in the red zone. That is the only way for the Patriots to score. Brady has targeted Gronkowski 18 times in the end zone during his career. Of those 18, 16 have been completed for touchdowns. 

    That is simply astonishing and having a huge presence such as Gronkowski in the end zone will help the Patriots turn great drives into spectacular finishes. 

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