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Redskins, Patriots will have plenty of time to prepare for their clash Nov. 8

“People have schemed us in certain ways, and the teams that we’ve played the last couple of games, a lot of them had bye weeks said Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson. (Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)
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If there’s one team in the NFL you could use an extra week of preparation for, it’s the New England Patriots. The defending Super Bowl champions are a difficult team to match up against and they’re one of the best in the NFL at consistently exploiting a team’s weakness.

There’s just one problem – they’ll get a few extra days to prepare for the Washington Redskins as well.

For some strange reason, Washington will face its third consecutive opponent coming off either a bye week or a Thursday night game. The Redskins faced the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming off a bye week before receiving their own mandatory break during the season. They split both games, losing to the Jets in Week 6 and defeating the Buccaneers last Sunday, 31-30.

Neil Greenberg, The Post's resident stats guru, makes his weekly NFL picks, going head-to-head against cats from the Animal Rescue League. (Video: Thomas Johnson and Jayne Orenstein/The Washington Post)

Washington played a solid first half against the Jets until it imploded in the third quarter. It was quite the opposite against the Bucs. The Redskins came out flat in the first half before mounting a 24-point comeback, the largest in franchise history. It’s difficult to quantify how much two weeks of preparation actually helps a team, but it is certainty an added benefit for any team to focus on an opponent for an extended period.

“People have schemed us in certain ways, and the teams that we’ve played the last couple of games, a lot of them had bye weeks,” linebacker Keenan Robinson said when asked about the defense’s recent struggles. “They had extra time to prepare. That might help. But for us, we’ve got to control what we can control.”

The Patriots will have a mini-bye after trampling the Dolphins on Thursday night, 36-7, to improve to 7-0. New England already had its bye in Week 4 and responded with a 30-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on the road, improving its record to 12-4 following a bye week during the Bill Belichick era. Belichick has been successful when he has a few extra days to prepare for an opponent, including an 8-1 record following a Thursday night contest. Belichick has won his last five contests in that situation since 2008.

“I believe our next go-around, because we have some tough away opponents starting with the New England Patriots, we’ve got to hone in on everything,” defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois said. “Like nothing we do in this facility in the next week should be taken for granted. I don’t care if it’s something simple. I don’t care if it’s some treatment, or getting the equipment right, or eating the right food, everything must be done right.”

Meanwhile, the Redskins have a smaller sample size to work with under Coach Jay Gruden. They lost both games last season following their bye and the Thursday night game in Gruden’s first season as head coach, but the Redskins had a better outing this season following the mandatory Thursday contest, beating the Eagles, 23-20, at FedEx Field in Week 4.

“I’ll just get back to just being a fan just enjoying football as a fan [during the bye],” defensive end Chris Baker said. “Then we’ll get back to seeing these Patriots, put together a game plan and go up there and shock the world.”

It’d be a tough task under normal circumstances to beat the Patriots at home. With a few extra days for Belichick to devise a gameplan, it won’t get any easier for the Redskins once they return from their break.

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