At this rate, it doesn't seem as if the New England Patriots will be hard-pressed to play another competitive game all season. The Patriots don't just beat opponents; they seemingly cause them to lose their minds.
Perhaps the most recent infamous example of this phenomenon occurred in Week 7, when the Indianapolis Colts decided to run the worst fake punt ever. But the Miami Dolphins extended this pattern last Thursday night, too, as Ryan Tannehill whiffed on catching a snap in his own end and the Dolphins suffered numerous defensive breakdowns.
It's hard enough to beat the Patriots when Tom Brady is playing arguably the best football of his career, but it's damn near impossible when you beat yourself. But yet, opposing teams can't seem to get out of their own way whenever they take on the Pats.
I can't stop laughing...is this real life? pic.twitter.com/lgyZl0aDuF— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) October 19, 2015
Even if the Patriots' foes do play fundamentally sound football, stopping Brady is a tall task. Since the NFL deemed Brady's footballs to be under-inflated at halftime of the AFC Championship, he's completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 2,859 yards, 26 touchdowns and three interceptions. Not too shabby, especially for a 38-year-old.
Though Brady says he "couldn't care less" about the Patriots going undefeated, it's a possibility he has to consider. In fact, this Patriots team may be even better than the 2007 squad that went 16-0 during the regular season. As the New York Giants demonstrated in Super Bowl 42, that team could be stopped with a great pass rush and good coverage down the field. But given how quickly Brady releases the football to either Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman or Dion Lewis, a good pass rush is essentially nullified.
Not that that's much of a concern when going up against Washington, anyway. The team has the 17th-ranked defense in the league and has yielded the 22nd-most passing yards in football. It could be a long day for that secondary, especially because starting corners DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland are all suffering through injuries.
Kirk Cousins is coming off his best game of the season, when he completed 33 of 40 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns in Washington's come-from-behind 31-30 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 7. One of the few weaknesses on the Patriots is their unproven secondary, which is largely comprised of unproven youngsters and retread veterans. But so far that hasn't been an issue, partially because of New England's pass rush. Defensive end Chandler Jones leads the NFL in sacks and linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont'a Hightower are blossoming into two of the game's best.
The other reason why the Patriots have been able to thrive with a subpar secondary is because of how mistake-prone so many other quarterbacks are around the league. Cousins is no different, throwing eight interceptions in seven games this season.
If the Patriots keep playing like this, they may have the AFC East locked up by Thanksgiving. There's little reason to think Washington is going to stand in their way Sunday.
How to Watch
When: 1 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Commentators: Kevin Burkhardt, John Lynch, Pam Oliver
Online: NFL Game Pass