Redskins aware they're huge underdogs at unbeaten Patriots
Washington has finished last in the NFC East eight of the past 11 seasons. New England is the NFL's model franchise with six Super Bowl appearances and four championships since 2001, including last season's title.
But at 3-4 and a half-game out of first place in their division, the Redskins aren't conceding anything as they prepare to play the Patriots (7-0) on the road.
''It's just so hard to win in this league. I don't care who you're playing,'' defensive end Jason Hatcher said Wednesday. ''You all need to understand football. You just can't wake up and beat people. This isn't college.''
The Redskins, 14-point underdogs, face multiple challenges this week. It remains unclear if they will have any of their top three cornerbacks against the NFL's second-best passing attack (329.3 passing yards per game).
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland (hamstring) worked on a side field with trainers at practice Wednesday. He was injured late in an Oct. 25 win over Tampa Bay, making a touchdown-saving tackle that helped Washington rally for the 31-30 victory. The Redskins haven't played since; they are coming off their bye.
Meanwhile, cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall (right toe) and Chris Culliver (left knee) have been out of the lineup for weeks. Culliver took part in individual drills and 1-on-1 work against the wide receivers at practice on Wednesday, a positive step forward for a player who last appeared in a game on Oct. 4.
Hall did only the individual drills, so his status is more unclear. But even getting one of those players back would be a huge boost against a New England offense that beats opponents in multiple ways.
''You watch one game where (Brady) comes out and throws the ball 20 times straight; watch another game where they run it 20 times straight,'' Hall said. ''They do a great job of really homing in on what you have a problem with and they try to exploit that.''
That could mean exploitation all over the field for the Redskins, who have struggled to stop the run in recent weeks, yet are also allowing big pass plays for touchdowns with a thin secondary.
That's all part of why the Patriots are double-digit favorites.
''It'd be motivation if it came as a surprise,'' Washington left tackle Trent Williams said. ''We expect people to make us the underdogs by a lot.''
It would take a monumental performance from quarterback Kirk Cousins and the offense to pull the upset. Still, Washington's players insist it's possible - even if few others do.
''In all these games, whether we're favored or the underdog, it's too close to call,'' Cousins said. ''We know the job at hand. No matter who it is in the NFL, you're going to get a tough challenge, you need your best effort. When you factor in going on the road, it's tough to win.''
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