The Washington Commanders will look much different on Sunday when they face the New England Patriots in Week 9 action. On Tuesday, the Commanders traded starting defensive ends Montez Sweat and Chase Young.
While those on the outside think Washington is in rebuilding mode, that’s not the case. The Commanders played a good portion of the 2021 season without Sweat and Young and went 5-2. Washington played sound defense and relied heavily on the running game during that stretch without Young and Sweat.
The Commanders are looking ahead to the future while still battling for an NFC wild-card berth in 2023.
Meanwhile, the Patriots enter Sunday’s game in a much different position than the last time they played Washington. The last time these two teams played, Tom Brady was still under center for New England, and the Commanders were the Redskins.
Here are six stats and facts for the Week 9 matchup.
Bill Belichick vs. young QBs
Belichick 10-4 ATS at home vs rookie QB, covers +8 per game
Avg QB production against: 18 for 33, 216 PaYds, one TD, two INT
Sam Howell (who I am classifying as a rookie) prop opens at 244½ PaYds
— Neil Greenberg (@ngreenberg) November 1, 2023
Belichick is not the coach young quarterbacks want to face. The future Hall of Fame coach often throws the kitchen sink at young passers. Sam Howell makes his 10th career NFL start on Sunday vs. the Patriots. Belichick has been known to make life difficult for legends like Peyton Manning, so Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy will need a creative game plan to keep Howell upright and comfortable.
Commanders lead the all-time series
The Commanders lead the all-time series, 6-5, but haven’t won a game in this series since 2003. Believe it or not, the last Washington coach to defeat the combination of Tom Brady and Belichick was Steve Spurrier. The two teams last met in 2019, with the Patriots winning 33-7. Washington fell to 0-5 on that day, and it is remembered as Jay Gruden’s last game as the franchise’s head coach.
Patriots will be without their best wide receiver
Kendrick Bourne leads the Patriots with 37 receptions, 406 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, Bourne injured his knee last week and is now lost for the season. This is a massive blow for an offense that was already struggling to move the ball. DeVante Parker (concussion) could also miss Sunday’s game.
Patriots QB Mac Jones is struggling
There is constant debate surrounding Howell and if he can be Washington’s franchise quarterback. Yet, Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is in his third NFL season and is struggling badly. Part of Jones’ struggles are related to the talent around him, but not all. Check out these numbers, courtesy of Peter Bukowski.
This is actually pretty decent charting for Jordan Love. Nearly all of his negative EPA is coming from deep throws and contrary to what #Packers fans might think he’s not the worst deep throwing QB in the league.
It’s Mac Jones and it’s not close
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) October 30, 2023
The Commanders vs. Ezekiel Elliott
The Commanders know Elliott all too well after his eight seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Elliott had plenty of success vs. Washington over the years. In 13 career games against the Commanders, Elliott has 935 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns. He splits time with Rhamondre Stevenson for the Pats.
Casey Toohill gets his chance
Defensive end Casey Toohill gets his chance to replace the departed sack production of Sweat and Young. Look, no one will argue that Toohill can replace the explosiveness of Sweat and Young, but he and James Smith-Williams are no slouches. Smith-Williams started for Young throughout the time he missed with a knee injury. Toohill has four sacks this season in a limited role. He can play.
Over the last three seasons:
999 defensive snaps
14 QB hits
9 tackles for loss
46 combined tackles
817 defensive snaps
17 QB hits
6 tackles for loss
62 combined tackles#HTTC
— DC Sports Buzz (@DCSportsBuzzz) November 1, 2023