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Patriots at Redskins game preview

Posted by Steve Silva, Boston.com Staff  December 11, 2011 11:01 AM

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LANDOVER, Md. -- We're two hours from kickoff here at chilly (36 degrees) but sunny FedEx Field where the Patriots will be looking for their first ever win in Washington, the only NFL city where New England has never won on the road.

The field looks to be in fairly poor condition after being patched up following yesterday's Army-Navy game. The Globe's Chris Gasper just returned from the field and says it appears "chewed up." Some folks on the Redskins side describe it as looking like the old RFK Stadium. The words "NAVY" remain painted in the north end zone while "ARMY" remains in the south end zone as a salute to Military Appreciation Day here at FedEx Field. A new patch of sod with the Redskins logo is now in place at midfield.

The press box is located on the second level of the south end zone, which may make it difficult to see the action down on the north end of the field. With 85,000 seats, FedEx Field has the largest seating capacity in the NFL.

Four Patriots players were downgraded yesterday and will be out today: safety Patrick Chung (foot), center Dan Connolly (groin), linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee), and running back Shane Vereen (hamstring). This is the fifth game Chung will miss after suffering a right foot injury against the Giants. Offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer is out due to back/foot injuries. The Patriots also re-signed veteran DE Eric Moore and placed DE/LB Jermaine Cunningham on injured reserve last week and safety Sterling Moore was released yesterday.

Earlier this week, the Redskins signed tight end Dominique Byrd and elevated DT Chris Baker from the team's practice squad. Left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis will begin their four-game suspensions for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

The last meeting between the teams was on Oct. 28, 2007 when the Patriots dismantled Joe Gibbs and the Redskins, 52-7, at Gillette Stadium. The 'Skins lead the all-time series, 6-2.

Running back Roy Helu, who is coming off his second consecutive 100-yard performance last week vs. the Jets, leads the Washington offense. Quarterback Rex Grossman has passed for 200 yards in five consecutive games.

Patriots QB Tom Brady (3,916) remains on pace to throw for an NFL-record 5,221 yards. Dan Marino holds the NFL single-season passing record with 5,084 yards for the Dolphins in 1984. Tight end Rob Gronkowski has 13 touchdown receptions so far in 2011 to tie the NFL record (with Vernon Davis and Antonio Gates) for most touchdown receptions by a tight end in NFL history.

In the old friends department, Patriots defensive end Andre Carter (2006-10 in Washington) faces his former team while Washington wide receivers Jabar Gaffney (2006-08 with NE) and Donte Stallworth (2007 with NE) will face the Patriots.

At 9-3, the Patriots maintain a two-game lead over the New York Jets in the AFC East. The Redskins come into today at 4-8, tied for last in the NFC East with the Eagles. Washington has lost the last four games at home.

The Redskins are celebrating Military Appreciation Day today. Forty military members from the Office of the Secretary of Defense will be joining the cheerleaders to form the tunnel for the Redskins players and a group of wounded warriors will be honored before the game. Sgt. Vicki Golding of the US Army Marching Band will sing the national anthem.

Here are the details for today's matchup:

Kickoff: 1:00 p.m.

Season records: Patriots 9-3; Redskins 4-8

TV/Radio info: WBZ-TV Ch. 4 (Greg Gumbel on play-by-play. Dan Dierdorf will provide the analysis); 98.5 FM The Sports Hub (Gil Santos, Gino Cappelletti, Scott Zolak).

Projected starting lineups:

Patriots offense: WR Wes Welker, LT Matt Light, LG Logan Mankins, C Nick McDonald, RG Brian Waters, RT Marcus Cannon, TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Deion Branch, QB Tom Brady, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, TE Aaron Hernandez.

Redskins offense: WR Santana Moss, LT Sean Locklear, LG Maurice Hurt, C Will Montgomery, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus, TE Logan Paulsen, WR Jabar Gaffney, QB Rex Grossman, FB Darrel Young, RB Roy Helu

Patriots defense: LE Shaun Ellis, DT Vince Wilfork, DT Kyle Love, RE Andre Carter, LB Rob Ninkovich, LB Jerod Mayo, LB Dane Fletcher, CB Devin McCourty, CB Kyle Arrington, S James Ihedigbo, S Sergio Brown

Redskins defense: LDE Adam Carriker, NT Barry Cofield, RDE Stephen Bowen, LOLB Ryan Kerrigan, MLB London Fletcher, JLB Perry Riley, ROLB Brian Orakpo, LCB DeAngelo Hall, RCB Josh Wilson, SS Reed Doughty, FS DeJon Gomes

Today's inactives:

Patriots inactives: QB Ryan Mallett, S Patrick Chung, C Dan Connolly, OL Sebastian Vollmer, RB Shane Vereen, DL Gerard Warren, and LB Brandon Spikes.

Redskins inactives: WR Terrence Austin, S LaRon Landry, RB Ryan Torain, LB Marcus White, LG Eric Cook, DL Chris Baker, and DE Kentwan Balmer.

Here's a list of Globe reporters to follow on Twitter during today's game:

Christopher L. Gasper (@cgasper); Greg A. Bedard (@GregABedard); Shalise Manza Young (@ShaliseMYoung);

The Globe's Greg Bedard offers his five keys to today's game. And Alen Dumonjic goes deeper inside today's matchup and tells us what to watch for as well.

We also encourage you to check out Boston.com's Patriots Pulse section before, during, and after the game, and to tag your tweets #pulsepatriots to get them to show in this growing feature.

To take a look at the view from the Washington side, take a look at today's stories from Sunday's Washington Post.

Enjoy the game.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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