Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week 14 game between the Patriots and Redskins:
Redskins OLBs Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo vs. Patriots OTs Matt Light and Nate Solder
With the Redskins, you have to start with their strength, and that's getting after the quarterback with a pair of talented outside 'backers. And with the Patriots, as we have mentioned in this space before, pass protection is key to running the offense, and it has been shaky at times this season.
The Pats allowed only one sack and four QB hits against the Colts last Sunday, but Solder had his struggles with DE Robert Mathis.
Orakpo has six sacks on the season and will test Light, the veteran. On the other side, it will likely be rookie vs. rookie in Kerrigan vs. Solder, who went against each other in Senior Bowl practices. Kerrigan has 6½ sacks, and something that Solder, or Sebastian Vollmer if he gets healthy, has to be leery of is Kerrigan's hands. The Purdue alum has been able to get his hand in the passing lanes, defending four passes this season.
No one has stopped the Patriots' offense in weeks, though the Redskins' defense should provide a test. It is the ninth-ranked unit in the league. The Patriots' O-line will have to avoid helping the tackles too often with Orakpo and Kerrigan, as Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker have combined for 9½ sacks from the D-line.
Getting to Tom Brady is the way to stop the Patriots, and the Redskins will try to do that in a variety of ways. Shutting out Kerrigan and Orakpo, as the Jets did last week, would go a long way for New England.