Capitals

Pats defense has tough job against balanced Texans

Pats defense has tough job against balanced Texans

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Vince Wilfork's biggest challenge when he lines up against the Houston Texans' powerful offense could come before the ball is even snapped.

Will they pass or run?

The offensive line isn't likely to give much of an indication against New England on Monday night.

``They do a real good job up front of showing you the same look on run and pass,'' the Patriots defensive tackle said Thursday, ``so we're just going to have to rely on technique, good fundamentals.''

Then, once Matt Schaub hands the ball to Arian Foster or throws it to Andre Johnson, the hard work continues for the Patriots (9-3) against the Texans (11-1) in the matchup of teams with six-game winning streaks and designs on first-round playoff byes.

Foster leads the NFL with 15 touchdowns and the AFC with 1,102 yards rushing. Johnson is tied for fourth in the NFL with 1,114 yards receiving and is alone in fourth in the AFC with 74 catches.

``They're a very well balanced team,'' Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. ``If you're stopping the run, you're light on the play-action (passing attack). If you're stopping the play-action, you're probably light on the run. They do a good job of tying those plays together, complementing each other and making you defend all of it.''

Foster has rushed for more than 100 yards in six of Houston's 12 games. He's also the Texans' third leading receiver with 30 catches, two of them for touchdowns.

``I had him out in the Pro Bowl a couple years ago,'' Belichick said. ``Impressive kid, strong, good balance. ... You've got to be able to tackle his quickness and his athleticism, but also have to be able to tackle his size and power to run through arm tackles. He's got a good set of skills.''

Very much like Johnson.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound receiver is averaging 78 catches in his 10 NFL seasons since being taken with the third pick of the 2003 draft out of Miami, where he played with Wilfork, who was drafted with the 21st pick the next year.

``He has the heart of a champion,'' Wilfork said. ``I just remember playing with him in college. He was always quiet, but he was a fireball on the field. He gave us his all. (He's) big, physical, strong, fast, can catch, can run. He's well put together. He's a specimen. He's special.''

Schaub also can throw to tight end Owen Daniels, second on the team with 50 catches, and Kevin Walters. And he can hand the ball off to Ben Tate and Justin Forsett, who are part of the NFL's sixth most productive running game.

``The quarterback will get the ball to the appropriate receiver based on coverage or based on read for that particular play so he's not always targeting one guy,'' Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said.

New England's secondary was vulnerable to big plays early in the season and has allowed the fourth most yards passing in the NFL. But it has improved since Devin McCourty moved from cornerback to safety for the past six games and Aqib Talib was acquired from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and played in the last three games.

But Talib is still adjusting after being suspended four games for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances and then adjusting to a new defensive system.

``I could be a lot better,'' he said. ``I can just go down the list on things I can do better.''

On Monday night he might be running downfield alongside Johnson, trying to shut down one of the NFL's best receivers. He and his defensive teammates probably won't get much of a hint of whether the Texans will run or pass on a particular play.

``The biggest challenge is how they run and they pass, everything looks the same,'' Talib said. ``Linemen come off one way on the run and they come off the exact same way on the pass. So you've just got to just be technique-sound and have your eyes in the right spot.''

Notes: LG Logan Mankins and DE Chandler Jones participated in practice on a limited basis. Mankins has been sidelined the past three games with ankle and calf problems, while Jones has missed the last two with an ankle injury. ... The Patriots will honor retired LT Matt Light at halftime of Monday night's game. Light spent his entire 11-year career with New England before retiring after last season.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

How to watch Capitals vs. Sabres NHL 20 simulation

Monday night was supposed to be another night of Capitals action with a game against the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately due to the NHL’s hold on the season in response to the coronavirus outbreak, the show can not go on as originally planned. 

However, with some minor adjustments to the presentation, there is still a way to keep things going. 

Monday night at 7 p.m. ET the Capitals will be taking the ice to play the Sabres as planned, only this time it will be virtual ice on an NHL 20 simulation. 

In partnership with Monumental Sports Network, NBC Sports Washington will be airing all Wizards and Capitals games in simulated NBA 2K20 and NHL 2K20 games. The format of these games includes watching the simulated versions of Caps games based on the existing schedule with the bonus of commentary from NBCSW’s experts. 

To make things even more fun, in between the simulation and the re-air of the simulation, there is a chance to relive a classic Caps game. So don’t forget to stick around and re-watch Dowd and the Capitals dominate the Penguins from earlier this season. 

Here's everything you need to know to watch. 

When: Monday, March 30 at 7 p.m. ET

Where:

  • NBC Sports Washington (channel finder
  • Any of our 24/7 authenticated streaming platforms
  • Monumental Sports Network via its website www.monumentalsportsnetwork.com or via any of its available apps on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, and Xbox.

Broadcast schedule: 

7:00 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (P)
8:00 PM: NHL Classics: Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins (R) 
10:30 PM: NHL 20 Simulation: Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (R)

Starting lineups: 

Capitals: TBD
Sabres: TBD

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

Quick Links

LeBron James scores 36, Wizards still top Lakers in NBA 2K simulation

LeBron James scores 36, Wizards still top Lakers in NBA 2K simulation

These 2K simulations certainly do agree with the Wizards. Coming off a stunning victory over the Bucks Friday, Washington turned around on the second night of a back-to-back and beat the Lakers 73-66 at virtual Capital One Arena. 

LeBron James was a one-man wrecking crew for LA, Bradley Beal led the scoring attack for the Wizards and Thomas Bryant got revenge on the team that waived him. 

Here's how the Wizards picked up their fourth-straight 2K win. 

Offensive rebounds

The Lakers are one of the biggest teams in the NBA with James, Anthony Davis, JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard playing heavy minutes, but it was the Wizards who dominated the boards in this one. 

Bryant led the way for Washington on the glass with seven of his 13 rebounds coming on the offensive end. The Lakers shot the ball significantly better than the Wizards (47% to 39%) but Washington was simply overwhelming them on the glass to create more opportunities. 

Washington grabbed 18 offensive rebounds compared to the Lakers' eight, and it ended being the major difference in the result. 

LeBron's one-man show

The real-life Lakers' biggest weakness is their lack of playmaking outside of James. In a game where James had everything working for him, the Lakers struggled to get anything going whenever he didn't have the ball. 

Rajon Rondo struggled mightily despite tallying eight assists (2-11 FG) and Davis had a bad game relative to his standards (10 points, one rebound, three blocks).

I'd be curious to see what virtual LeBron would have to say about his teammates after this particular game. 

Thomas Bryant's revenge

As we stated before, Bryant was waived by the Lakers after his rookie season and his virtual self took it all out on his former team Saturday night. 

He dominated the boards and once again protected the paint in a way that would make Elvin Hayes proud. He finished with eight points, 13 rebounds and five blocks. 

With Bryant playing the way he has been the last few simulations, the Wizards' defense has been exceptional. Outside of defensive versatility, having a strong defensive center anchoring the defense is paramount to an effective unit. 

Other parting thoughts

Jerome Robinson continues to play well as a starter, scoring 13 points in 19 minutes. The Wizards didn't get that long of a look at Robinson before the NBA suspended its season.

After acquiring him at the trade deadline in exchange for Isaiah Thomas, it'd be another steal by Tommy Sheppard if Robinson can play like this consistently in real life. 

Instead of erupting in the fourth quarter to help the Wizards secure a win, Beal went off for 14 points in the third this time. He finished with 24 points and went 12-for-30 from the field.

Markieff Morris made a return to DC in this one. The Lakers uniform looks weird on him. 

It's hard to capture just how quick Ish Smith is in a video game, but this spin move came pretty close. 

Stay connected to the Capitals and Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: