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Scouting the Matchups: The mismatch of all mismatches?

Patriots Football Weekly's Paul Perillo shares his matchup predictions heading into Week 9 vs. the Washington Redskins.


The statistics are a bit misleading when it comes to the Patriots running game. New England ranked 30th among NFL teams in rushing offense entering last Sunday's game against the Redskins, but that number was skewed by the team's offensive game plan against the Jets, when the Patriots all but ignored their running game (16 yards on nine carries). While their run offense hasn't been great, it's been good enough. Injuries to Dion Lewis and along the offensive line are a concern, however. The Giants led the league in run defense after their 24-10 victory over Buffalo in Week 4 but have been in free-fall since then. New York has surrendered at least 100 yards on the ground in each of its last five games. LeGarrette Blount's 129-yard effort last week was by far his best of the season. Don't expect that kind of production to continue.  Advantage: GIANTS



The Giants have been going with a four-man rotation to generate rushing yards, but none of the four backs has excelled. Andre Williams, a finalist for the 2013 Heisman Trophy while he was at Boston College, led the team in rushing yards last season but has fallen down the depth chart and enters Sunday's game with 177 yards and one touchdown on 61 carries this season. Rashad Jennings leads the way this year with 364 yards and one touchdown on 94 rushing attempts. The Giants have also been giving the ball to Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa, who suffered a back injury during a Week 8 loss to New Orleans. The Patriots improved to third against the run after holding the Redskins to 37 yards on the ground last Sunday. With the Patriots four-man rotation at defensive tackle helping lead the resurgence, don't expect New York to generate much on the ground.  Advantage: PATRIOTS



This could be the mismatch of all mismatches. The Patriots have what is arguably the best passing offense in the NFL, led by a quarterback who is putting up impressive numbers week after week. Tom Brady has not only excelled at finding targets and picking up yards through the air (New England is averaging 325.5 yards passing per game), he has been even better at protecting the football (two interceptions in 328 pass attempts). The injury-plagued Giants defense, meanwhile, hasn't had much success defending anything thrown at them. The Giants rank dead last among NFL teams in pass defense, averaging 422.8 yards allowed per game. Their worst performance came during a 52-49 loss to New Orleans, when they allowed the Saints to pass for 511 yards. About the only positive from the Giants secondary comes in forcing turnovers, as the group has 13 interceptions.  Advantage: PATRIOTS



The Giants figured to have one of the NFL's top passing attacks this season, but wide receiver Victor Cruz has yet to play a down. Cruz suffered a strained left calf during training camp and re-injured the calf on Sept. 30, the day he returned to practice. He isn't expected back until after New York's bye in Week 11. Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 19 touchdown passes and has been intercepted six times this season. Manning has passed for at least two touchdowns in six of New York's nine games. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. enters Sunday's game with 59 catches for 759, an average of 12.9 yards per catch. He has a team-high seven TD receptions. The Patriots have intercepted nine passes this season.  Advantage: GIANTS



The Patriots have a unique weapon in kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who is 19-for-19 on field goal attempts this season, including three kicks from 50 yards or longer. He hasn't missed a point-after kick since 2006 and leads the league with 42 touchbacks. The Giants counter with Josh Brown, who isn't as effective as Gostkowski on kickoffs but has made his last 23 field goals dating back to last season. Brown has made 36 field goals from at least 50 yards, which is the third most among active NFL kickers. Through Week 8, New York's Dwayne Harris led the league in kickoff-return average (34.1 yards). That includes a 100-yard return against Dallas. The Giants have blocked one punt and also have a solid long-snapper in Zak DeOssie.  Advantage: GIANTS



This is a game the Giants need more than the Patriots. While New England has a comfortable lead in the AFC East - the Jets are in second place with three losses -  things are tighter in the NFC East. New York is at home, but that may might not work in the Giants favor. If New England gets an early lead and starts to take advantage of a porous New York defense - like Drew Brees did in the Saints 52-49 victory over the Giants earlier this month - the crowd could turn on the home team. The Giants have intercepted 13 passes this season and lead the league in turnover differential (plus-12). New England had a league-low three turnovers through its first seven games but turned the ball over twice in last Sunday's victory over the Redskins.  Advantage: GIANTS

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