The New England Patriots (9-3) and Washington Redskins (4-8) will both step outside of conference play and meet up Sunday afternoon inside FedExField.

New England Patriots at Washington Redskins

New England looks to maintain or extend its two-game lead in the AFC East and comes in on a four-game winning streak, which includes a 31-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts last week as 20.5-point home favorites.

The Patriots certainly know that coming away from a victory is important in this road affair, as the Pittsburgh Steelers picked up a win Thursday night, giving them a half-game lead for the No. 1 seed in the AFC if the playoffs were to start.

“I think it’s important for us to play the best game this weekend,” commented Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.  “What’s in our control is how we’re able to go out there and see how we match up against a team on the road that has come very good players.”

Winning in December has always been a strong suit for this franchise, posting a 38-5 record during the month since the start of the 2001 campaign.  From a handicapping standpoint, New England is 4-4 ATS in the final month of the calendar year the last two-plus seasons.

It’s important to note that the Patriots play all four NFC East teams this season, posting a 17-24 regular-season record in the franchise’s history.  It was a no contest in the last meeting in this series, as Brady threw for 306 passing yards and three touchdowns in a 52-7 win as 15-point home favorites on Oct. 28, 2007.

Washington sits alone in the basement of its division and has tallied a 2-4 record at home this season, winning the first two games, but dropping the last four.  The team dropped a disappointing 34-19 contest to the New York Jets last week as three-point home underdogs, snapping a two-game run of covering the spread.

The Redskins have lost all three meetings against AFC East opponents this season in straight-up and against-the-spread fashion, while the ‘under’ has cashed in two of three games.

Second-year head coach Mike Shanahan has enjoyed success in playing against Brady during his career on the sidelines, winning five of six meetings, while the Redskins have never lost to the Patriots as the host team.

There’s no question that it’s going to take a monumental effort for this squad to pull off an upset, especially with many key players not suiting up for the contest, including cornerback DeAngelo Hall, tight end Fred Davis and safety LaRon Landry.

Bettors will likely back the Patriots due to their 4-1 ATS mark as a road favorite of 3.5 to 10 points, while the Redskins are 1-4 ATS at home.

Recommendation: New England Patriots -7.5

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