Patriots host Commanders looking to exploit departures of pash rushers Sweat, Young

` (AP) — WASHINGTON (3-5) at NEW ENGLAND (2-6)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, FOX

BETTING LINE: Patriots by 3 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Commanders 3-4-1; Patriots 2-6

SERIES RECORD: Commanders lead 6-5.

LAST MEETING: Patriots beat Commanders 33-7 on Oct. 6, 2019, in Landover, Maryland.

LAST WEEK: Commanders lost to Eagles 38-31; Patriots lost to Dolphins 31-17.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Commanders even; Patriots minus-6.

COMMANDERS PLAYER TO WATCH: DT Daron Payne. After trading away pass rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat, Washington needs Payne and fellow Alabama product Jonathan Allen to go back to wreaking havoc from the interior of the defensive line. Payne and Allen started the season strong, but the Commanders need more consistent production from two big-money players.

PATRIOTS PLAYER TO WATCH: TE Pharaoh Brown. He has just seven catches for 170 yards and a touchdown, but his 24.3 yards per catch average is a team high this season. He has five catches for 20 or more yards. For an offense that has had trouble producing chunk plays this season, the seven-year NFL veteran has provided a much needed big-play threat.

KEY MATCHUP: Commanders pass rush vs. Patriots offensive: Washington was a seller at the trade deadline, dealing away its two top pass rushers in Sweat and Young (11 1/2 combined sacks). That would seem to offer a reprieve for the Patriots offensive line and give more time to Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who is looking to bounce back after throwing his eighth interception of the season last week.

KEY INJURIES: Commanders WR Curtis Samuel is unlikely to play because of a toe injury. ... Rookie OL Ricky Stromberg injured his right knee against Philadelphia. ... Patriots WR Kendrick Bourne was placed on season-ending injured reserve with a torn ligament in his knee. ... OTs Trent Brown (ankle/knee) and Calvin Anderson (illness), WR DeVante Parker (concussion) all sat out the first practice of the week.

SERIES NOTES: The Patriots have won the past four meetings. Washington’s most recent win against New England came in 2003. New England is 3-4 all time at home against the Commanders, including 2-0 in Gillette Stadium.

STATS AND STUFF: Commanders QB Sam Howell has dropped back to pass 94 times compared to 35 rushing attempts for the team over the past two games. … Howell is coming off setting career highs with 39 completions, 397 yards passing and four touchdowns against the Eagles. … WR Terry McLaurin has five-plus catches and 50-plus yards receiving in three consecutive games. … WR Jahan Dotson had a career-high eight catches and 108 yards receiving last week. … DE Casey Toohill, who’s expected to start with Young and Sweat gone, has a career-best four sacks this season. … LB David Mayo has nine-plus tackles in back-to-back games. ... Patriots WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is coming off his first TD catch of the season last week at Miami. ... ST Brenden Schooler is coming off his second straight game with two special teams tackles and his fourth game overall with two special teams tackles. With two tackles this week he’ll become the first Patriots player since 2014 (Matt Slater) to do so in three straight games. … Rookie P Bryce Baringer is tied for the NFL lead with Jacksonville’s Logan Cooke with 20 punts inside the 20-yard line. … CB J.C. Jackson leads the NFL in interceptions since 2018 (26).

FANTASY TIP: Mac Jones is looking to post his third straight game with two or more passing touchdowns. He has 29 TDs (28 passing, one rushing) and a 92.6 quarterback rating in 20 home starts.