|Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets||Smart Era Gets Off to a Good Start with Win over T’wolves||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 16|
Tonight the Patriots take on the Redskins in the third – and most important – completely meaningless game of the pre-season. The Patriots put together a putrid offensive display in the second game against the Eagles, one I witnessed personally, yet this third game usually means the starters will go a majority of the game. That said, don’t count on anything you see tonight having much bearing on the season, unless there is an injury. Remember, the Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the 2008 pre-season and we all know how that turned out. Either way, here are five questions for tonight’s game:
The first team offense will have it’s hands full tonight as the Redskins will certainly look to play high intensity football in preparation for playing in the NFC East, probably the NFL’s best division top-to-bottom. Tom Brady and co. didn’t get much going against the Eagles and will want to make sure their connections are made in game situations. Randy Moss has been relatively quiet so far but can turn it on like a switch and burn any corner in the game. My thinking is we’ll see a good two and a half quarters from the first team offense and they will put up some points.
Hands down this answer is Laurence Maroney. Still plagued by happy feet, Maroney will have Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris breathing down his neck for touches and no matter how many times we read in the Globe or Herald on how this is the year he feels he’s 100%, he needs to show it on the field. At least in a pre-season game of this little significance, we need to see him give it his all even if his statistics aren’t gaudy. Much more dancing from the dreadlocked one and we may see him on “Dancing With the Stars” this fall rather on a football field.
While running back is deep and competitive, the cornerback slots have the most unclear position as of this point. There’s veterans Shawn Springs and Leigh Bodden in the mix but second year pro Jonathan Wilhite and rookie Darius Butler are hot on their heals for starting positions. My gut tells me that Wilhite and Springs will be your opening day starters but before too long we’ll see Butler a lot more. It’s not as though Wilhite and Springs can’t get the job done per se, it just seems Butler has superstar written all over him and once he gets the playbook down and the coaches realize how to best use his freakish athletic ability he will be a future No. 1 corner.
I think the Patriots will look to make a statement – within reason. Pre-season games are about getting work and staying healthy and the Patriots will get a lot of work up and down the field. Against a pretty good defense you may see Brady throw a pick and get hit in the backfield but they’ll get theirs. Defensively I think the Patriots will have a decent time getting after the quarterback as the Redskins don’t seem to have much confidence in their QB. This could be another big night for new boy Derrick Burgess.
Patriots 31, Redskins 24