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Don't expect the Patriots' early-season slip up to come against the Redskins

Don't expect the Patriots' early-season slip up to come against the Redskins

When the weather outside becomes cold and the calendar turns to November or December, there's probably no team NFL opponents would rather avoid than the New England Patriots. The dominant franchise and defending champions always seem to get stronger as the season goes on. However, in the opening weeks, they sometimes show a vulnerability we're not used to seeing.

In recent years, New England has been prone to dropping an early-season contest that makes you go "Really? They lost to that team?" or "You just don't usually seem the Patriots play like that." In 2018 it was a Sunday night loss to the Lions that dropped them to 1-2. They followed that up with six consecutive wins. The year prior, a surprise last-second loss to the Panthers in Week 4 put the Patriots at 2-2. The team then won 11 of 12 games to close out the regular season.

Keep going back, the trend remains the same. In the end, New England always figures it out and rights the ship, but it shows that the formula to taking down the power of the NFL could just be getting a lucky draw on the schedule.

That's where the Redskins come into play. Slated to face the Patriots at home in Week 5 following four tough games to open up the season, Washington could most definitely use an upset no matter their record. 

Being that it is a relatively early-season game, and adding in the fact that New England does have a lot of questions to answer despite coming off yet another Super Bowl, there is reason to think the Redskins could be this year's "slip-up" game for the Patriots. Yet according to NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry, they may be one week too late.

"Unfortunately for Redskins fans I would say almost 100 percent of the time by Week 5 they have it figured out," Perry said on the Redskins Talk Podcast. "It's the first four weeks that have at times been a disaster."

Based on past showings, that does seem to be the case for the Patriots. New England hasn't lost a Week 5 matchup since 2013, and they entered that contest already sitting at 4-0. Perry also used the "We're on to Cincinnati" moment in 2014 to show how much of a swing their season takes once they hit Week 5. In that season, the Patriots rebounded from a rough showing against the Chiefs on Monday night to beatdown the Bengals and then rattle off six more wins. 

So, as much as Redskins fans want to believe that their team is in prime position to pull off the shocking win against the Patriots, the timing doesn't seem to be quite right. As Perry put it, there's always a point in the season where the switch is flipped. More often than not, "it's usually by Week 5."

While the Redskins may not catch the Patriots on their worst day in 2019, that isn't to say there is no chance Washington can come out on top. New England is entering the season with some things that still need to be ironed out, especially on the offensive side. Even if it is the daunted Week 5, Perry thinks that some of these problems may still be around.

"I think there are legitimate issues offensively for the Patriots this year both at receiver and tight end," Perry said. "I don't know if they're necessarily past those questions being answered by the time that Redskins game rolls around."

With Rob Gronkowski in retirement and Josh Gordon indefinitely suspended, some big weapons will be missing. That hasn't stopped the Patriots from getting production before, but Brady may not have as much to work with as he had in year's past. N'Keal Harry could emerge at the position, but he'll only have four games with Brady under his belt at that point.

When the teams meet in Week 5, Brady may just be working with one reliable target, and Perry believes that is an advantage for Washington.

"Outside of Julian Edleman, that receiver group is pretty weak," Perry said. "That would be the path to success for the Redskins I would say would be to really limit the passing game and keep it close that way."

Part of shutting down the passing game relies on getting pressure on Brady and giving him less time to sit in the pocket and pick apart the defense. With a strong front unit on their defense, the Redskins have a chance to do just that. But, it won't come easy against New England's offensive line.

"The offensive line up the middle is really good. It's been about as strong as it's been," Perry said. "That's one of the strongest parts of their team in all honesty."

Perry feels that if the Redskins are going to get to Brady, their best bet is to put a powerful and athletic body across from the smaller-sized center David Andrews and win that matchup.

If Washington can do that, there's a chance the passing game takes a hit, as Brady had some struggles last season when being pressured.

"He was bailing out of throws on pressure up the middle and that was forcing him into a lot of mistakes," Perry said of Brady during stretches of last season. "A lot of throwaways, some interception-worthy types of throws. So that's the kind of thing that the Redskins should be trying to do to make life difficult for them."

Week 5 promises to be an important one for Washington, and an upset win over New England could change the direction of the season. But, they can't bank on getting the Patriots off-game. Like always, a win against New England will be tough.


Wimbledon phenom Coco Gauff coming to D.C.'s Citi Open

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Wimbledon phenom Coco Gauff coming to D.C.'s Citi Open

Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old tennis sensation that stole hearts around the world at Wimbledon, will make an appearance at the 2019 Citi Open in Washington D.C. 

She awaits entrance into the event’s qualifying draw, where she will have the opportunity to win her way into the Citi Open’s main draw. Gauff does not earn direct entry into the main draw due to her No. 313 ranking that she held prior to Wimbledon when the event’s original field was announced. To become a qualifier for the main draw, the young American must win two matches in the qualifying tournament on July 27 and 28. 

The qualifying draw, and Gauff’s potential entrance will be announced at 4:00 p.m. ET on July 26. 

Whether selected for qualifying or not, Gauff will host the Citi Open Kids’ Day on Sunday, July 28. If she does not earn a spot into the qualifying field she will be on-site with a fan meet-and-greet on July 27 as well. 

Gauff is ineligible to receive one of the Citi Open’s wild cards into the main WTA draw as she has already used her maximum allotment of three as a 15-year-old. This will be only her third WTA event of 2019. 

“Coco’s story is a perfect fit with the history and mission of our tournament and, as potentially the next great American star, she also embodies our future and our re-imagination of this storied tennis event,” said Mark Ein, who owns management rights for the Citi Open, in a press release.  “Coco’s fairytale run at Wimbledon captured the hearts of fans worldwide and Washington D.C. cannot wait to host her first post-Wimbledon tennis appearance back in the United States at the Citi Open.  We hope she gets into the qualifying but if not, we will provide our community and her fans a great opportunity to meet her and watch her play and practice as she prepares for the US Open.”

At Wimbledon, Gauff rolled through the qualifying tournament and then upset seven-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams in the First Round. She continued her magical run to the Round of 16 where she would fall to eventual champion Simona Halep. 

Her world rankings have catapulted her to No. 141 in the world and put her in position to qualify for the U.S. Open over the next month. This will be her first action on the court since playing on the lawns in London. A run in Washington D.C. could help push the young American even closer to a main draw spot in New York. 

The Citi Open will be held from July 27 to August 4 at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. The main ATP and WTA draws will begin play on Monday, July 29.