Patriots-Redskins matchup of the day: Friday

Posted Dec. 09, 2011 @ 9:25 a.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a key matchup to watch in the Week 14 game between the Patriots and Redskins:

Patriots DE Andre Carter vs. Redskins OLT Sean Locklear or Willie Smith

As of Thursday, the Redskins had not decided who would start at left tackle, replacing Trent Williams, who is suspended for the remainder of the season. Whoever gets the nod will be at a big disadvantage going against the Patriots' best offseason acquistion: Andre Carter.

Locklear, an eight-year veteran, has played in five games with three starts this season and has given up four sacks. Smith, a rookie out of East Carolina, has yet to play in an NFL game. It's a lose-lose situation for Washington, and something Carter and the Patriots should try and exploit.

Locklear does have a veteran presence, but with the Redskins out of the playoff hunt, they might want to see what they can get out of Smith, who has gotten good experience going against OLBs Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan in practice.

Carter leads the team with nine sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 19 QB hits. The Patriots' passing defense, which is worst in the league, would benefit greatly from Carter having a big day.

The Patriots might want to overload that side as well because of the advantage they will have over Locklear or Smith. Look for Rob Ninkovich to blitz off that side or for the Pats to bring a defensive back in off that side.

Any opportunity to give the pass rush some confidence and take pressure off the secondary is beneficial to a Patriots squad that has flaws in the back end. With the Redskins' shaky situation at left tackle, Carter could provide the Pats' "D" a big lift.