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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.

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Potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Tua Tagovailoa to miss rest of season with hip injury

Potential No. 1 NFL Draft pick Tua Tagovailoa to miss rest of season with hip injury

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- What was planned to be the last series of the day for Tua Tagovailoa ended in the final play of his season -- and maybe his Alabama career.

The Crimson Tide's star quarterback will miss the rest of the season after dislocating his right hip in the first half of No. 4 Alabama's 38-7 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.

Tagovailoa, the potential top pick in April's NFL draft, was injured while being dragged down by two Bulldogs late in the first half, with the Tide up four touchdowns. He was flown by helicopter to the St. Vincent's Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Hours later the school announced he has sustained a dislocated right hip.

"He is undergoing further testing to determine the best course of treatment," Alabama team orthopedic surgeon Lyle Cain said in a statement. "He is expected to make a full recovery but will miss the remainder of the season."

Tagovailoa had been nursing an ankle injury and Alabama was considering holding him out of this game. The junior needed surgery four weeks ago for a high ankle sprain on his right leg that caused him to miss a game and a half.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said the plan was to remove Tagovailoa from the game before the series when the quarterback was injury. Alabama was leading 35-7, but it was decided to let Tagovailoa play one more possession to get some work in the two-minute drill.

"We can second guess ourselves all we want," Saban said. "We told Mac (Jones) to warm up and we were going to go 2-minute before the half. Tua wanted to play in the game and so I don't really make a lot of decisions worrying if a guy is going to get hurt."

Tagovailoa was 14 of 18 for 256 yards and two touchdown passes against Mississippi State, giving him 31 TD passes on the season. He was replaced by Jones, who went 7 for 11 for 94 yards.

Jones led the Crimson Tide to an easy victory when he started against Arkansas last month. Alabama faces Western Carolina next week before finishing the season at No. 13 Auburn.

Tailback Najee Harris warned reporters that he wasn't in the mood to answer questions, saying: "I'm just hurt about our quarterback, what happened to our quarterback."

"He means a lot to our team, Harris said. "It's our guy. I came here at the same time he did. Been friends with him since my freshman season. For him to go down like that really hurts."

The Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) were coming off a 46-41 loss to LSU that nudged it out of College Football Playoff position to fifth in the latest selection committee rankings. Now Alabama is facing the possibility of trying to impress the committee without Tagovailoa, the Heisman Trophy runner-up from last season.

Tagovailoa played well against LSU, passing for more than 400 yards, but he was gimpy at times, favoring his right ankle. Saban said Tagovailoa was a game-time decision against Mississippi State. He started and the Tide jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a touchdown run and a touchdown catch by Najee Harris, who finished with four TDs.

Mississippi State (4-6, 2-5) cut the lead to 14-7 on a 1-yard scoring run by Kylin Hill. But that was as close it got. Harris finished with 88 yards rushing and 51 yards receiving. Jerry Jeudy had seven catches for 114 yards receiving for Alabama.

After the game, the mood among the Tide players was somber.

"I'm just hurt about our quarterback, what happened to our quarterback," Harris said.

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Fantasy Football: Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 11

Fantasy Football: Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 11

Week 11 is here and it is time to take a good look at your lineups and decide whether you like the direction your team is headed. If you are sitting at 4-6, its time to make a season-deciding trade. If you're sitting at 5-5, bolster your bench for later in the season. It's also time to stop wasting a roster spot on players that have continued to let you down. This is most likely your last opportunity to make a trade before the deadline, so take advantage of that before it’s too late.

Before we can get ready for Week 11, lineups need to be set, decisions need to be made and let's take a look at how last week's predictions fared.

Start 'Em

QB: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals: 324 Passing YDS, 3 Passing TD, 1 INT, 38 Rushing YDS: 26.7 PTS
RB: Tevin Coleman, San Francisco 49ers: 40 Rushing YDS, 4 Receptions, 32 Receiving YDS, 11.2 PTS
WR: Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts: 2 Receptions, 26 Receiving YDS. 4.6 PTS
TE: O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4 Receptions, 47 Receiving YDS, 1 Receiving TD, 14.7 PTS 

Sit 'Em

QB: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings: 220 Passing YDS, 2 Passing TD, 19.3 PTS
RB: Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons, 38 Rushing YDS, 3 Receptions, 10 Receiving YDS, 7.8 PTS
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers, 3 Receptions, 44 Receiving YDS, 7.4 PTS
TE: Chris Herndon, New York Jets: 1 Reception, 7 Receiving YDS, 1.7 PTS

Week 1: 5/8
Week 2: 6/8
Week 3: 4/8
Week 4: 6/8
Week 5: 4/8
Week 6: 2/8 
Week 7: 6/8
Week 8: 4/8
Week 9: 6/8
Week 10: 6/8

Start 'Em

QB: Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

Opponent: vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Derek Carr has thrived this season despite not having the weapons he had expected. Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow have been exceptional for the Raiders this season and a matchup against the winless Bengals should give Carr a top-10 finish in Week 11.

RB: Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
Opponent: at Miami Dolphins

Devin Singletary has yet to be unleashed yet by Sean McDermott through ten games. A matchup against the Dolphins could get him going and should give you the confidence to insert him into your lineup. 

WR: D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
Opponent: vs. Atlanta Falcons

D.J. Moore hasn’t gotten going to the extent many expected he would in his second season with the Panthers. A matchup in Week 11 against a struggling Falcons secondary will provide the tune-up game Moore needs.

TE: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
Opponent: vs. jacksonville Jaguars

Austin Hooper is out. George Kittle is out. Evan Engram is on a bye. Jack Doyle is a more than serviceable streamer in Week 11 with four teams on a bye and three of the top 7 tight ends on the shelf this week.

Sit 'Em

QB: Nick Foles, Jacksonville Jaguars

Opponent: at Indianapolis Colts

Nick Foles will take the mantle back from Gardner Minshew in Week 11 when he returns to the starting lineup against the Colts. While Foles could producer average numbers, it’s worth waiting a week before inserting him into your lineup.

RB: David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
Opponent: at Los Angeles Rams

David Montgomery received a lot of hype after being drafted by the Bears back in April but with the way this offense has performed through the first ten games of the season, he cannot be relied upon with the fantasy playoffs on the horizon.

WR: Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles
Opponent: vs. New England Patriots

With Alshon Jeffery ruled out for the Super Bowl rematch with New England, Nelson Agholor will be shadowed by Patriots star Stephon Gilmore in Week 11 who has been nothing short of exceptional through the first 10 weeks of the season.

TE: Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Rams
Opponent: vs. Chicago Bears

With a banged-up offensive line in Week 11, Gerald Everett will be asked to block more than usual with Khalil Mack in town. Look for Jared Goff to get Cooper Kupp going early after the latter was held without a catch in Week 10 against the Steelers.

For a tiered breakdown of each fantasy football position, click below:

Quarterback Rankings: Week 11
Running Back Rankings: Week 11
Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 11
Tight End Rankings: Week 11