Week 9 is here, which means we're officially at the halfway point of the NFL season.
At 2-6 and in last place in the AFC East, the New England Patriots definitely aren't where they want to be. Fortunately, they have a winnable home game this week against the Washington Commanders to help them get back on track.
Here are three bold predictions for this week's Patriots-Commanders game.
1. New England's Defense Dominates
The Patriots were supposed to have a dominant defense this year, especially after ranking top-12 last year in both fewest points and yards allowed. Instead, New England's defense has been one of the worst in the league, surrendering a whopping 26 points per game (26th in NFL).
The Patriots have only had one game so far where they allowed fewer than 21 points, and that was all the way back in Week 3 -- a rain-drenched victory over Zach Wilson and the New York Jets.
Despite losing several key defenders to injury since then -- most notably Matthew Judon and Christian Gonzalez -- look for New England's defense to actually play well this week.
Yes, the Commanders just hung 31 points and a season-high 472 total yards on the Philadelphia Eagles (a team with a legitimately good defense), but this is the kind of matchup Bill Belichick lives for. He's essentially facing a rookie quarterback in Sam Howell, who only made 1 start prior to this season, and Belichick loves to torment quarterbacks who have never faced his defense before.
Howell also leads the NFL in sacks taken with 41, which makes this matchup even more enticing for the Patriots. Washington waved the white flag this week at the trade deadline and is likely demoralized with nothing to play for, setting up New England's defense to feast. The Commanders will be lucky to crack double-digit points in this game.