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Redskins seem undaunted despite daunting task vs. Patriots

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ASHBURN, Va. — The Washington Redskins know the odds. Few, if any, credible voices give them any chance to win on the road Sunday against the New England Patriots.

There are injuries and a defense that is fraying under the weight of them. The running game is sputtering. The offensive line is down two starters. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has yet to put together back-to-back strong efforts.

The Redskins need wide receiver DeSean Jackson back on the field. They need one of their three injured cornerbacks back, if not two. Even then envisioning a win against Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxborough is a stretch.

Brady is 94-14 in regular-season starts at home in his career. It is a supreme challenge, but the Redskins (3-4), one game out of first place in the NFC East, aren’t ready to concede anything.

“I don’t know if anybody takes a nothing-to-lose (approach),” left tackle Trent Williams said. “We have a game to lose. It’s a close race in this division and nobody wants to give a game away. That’s not the mentality.

“Our mentality is they’re the best team in the NFL and if we want to compete and show that we’re worthy of being on the same field as them then we’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

Certainly it’s a matchup of two teams that have spent the majority of the last 15 years on opposite sides of the NFL spectrum. The Patriots have won four Super Bowls and played in six since 2001.

The Redskins have made the playoffs three times and won one postseason game. They’ve finished last in the NFC East eight times in the last 11 years. New England is favored by 13.5 points.

“I don’t really care about people counting us out or not believing in us,” defensive end Jason Hatcher said. “You guys can write what they want to write. People can say what they want to say. But we believe in us. And that’s all that matters.”

Brady is torching the NFL again this season as the future Hall-of-Famer shows no signs of slowing down at age 38. He has 20 touchdown passes to one interception with 2,410 passing yards.

The mismatch against an injury-ravaged defense, which has lost two starters for the season (right outside linebacker Junior Galette, strong safety Duke Ihenacho) and could be down its top three corners, is obvious.

“They have a lot of formations, a lot of different lineups with how they split receivers, running backs and tight ends,” Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. “And Brady is one of the best to ever do it. It’s a really lethal offense.”

SERIES HISTORY: Only the 10th regular-season meeting since 1970. Redskins lead the series 6-3, although the Patriots have won the last two games. Washington would like to forget the last visit to Gillette Stadium, a 52-7 loss in 2007. New England also won 34-27 at FedEx Field in 2011.

GAME PLAN: The Redskins will do their best to jam tight end Rob Gronkowski at the line of scrimmage. They have to. Their linebackers, especially Perry Riley, aren’t quick enough to keep up in pass coverage. Tom Brady will find a way to get his tight end the ball anyway. But better tackling is crucial to limiting big plays. The same goes when wide receiver Julian Edelman gets a pass in space.

Meanwhile, Washington’s running game simply has to be better. Running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones haven’t been effective in weeks. Morris is averaging a career-worst 3.3 yards per carry. That has to change. If they can get Morris or Jones going again then maybe they keep the ball out of the Patriots’ hands and put themselves in position to get an upset. The Patriots have been vulnerable to big gains on the ground (4.23 rushing yards allowed per play, 21st overall).

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

–Redskins CB Kyshoen Jarrett vs. Patriots WR Julian Edelman.

Teams have to give up something. You can’t stop TE Rob Gronkowski, plus RB LeGarrette Blount and RB Dion Lewis plus WR Danny Amendola. There are too many places for QB Tom Brady to go. Jarrett, a natural safety, is playing out of position at slot CB. Expect the Patriots to test him.

–Redskins LT Trent Williams vs. Patriots DE Chandler Jones.

The two men saw each other during joint training camp practices last season and Williams said he was shocked by how much better Jones was by season’s end. Jones is tied for the NFL lead in sacks (8.5) with Houston DE J.J. Watt.


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