After another stunning loss added to the last week, the Patriots have a chance to stack some wins over the next three games, starting with the Washington Commanders in Week 9.
The 3-5 NFC East team became big sellers by the trade deadline, trading away star pass rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young, providing a likely easier matchup for the New England offense on Sunday.
It was perfect timing for a team needing a big win, especially an offense that has continued to struggle over the past two months. And it now appears the defense has caught a break with the latest injury update from the Commanders this afternoon.
The team announced that wide receiver Curtis Samuel was ruled out for the matchup on Sunday due to a toe injury, giving quarterback Sam Howell one less weapon to use against a very physical defense. Samuel's absence creates more opportunities for guys like Jamison Crowder, Jahan Dotson, and Terry McLaurin, all of whom the Patriots shouldn't take for granted.
Although there is still plenty of talent they'll have to keep in check; an inactive Samuel is a big hit for the Commanders' offense. He has been one of the more consistent and reliable pass catchers on the team, which has been critical for Howell in just his second season and could become a bigger factor than anticipated come game time.
Then there's the bad news...
Along with the Commanders' updated injury report comes the Patriots, who have already ruled out DeVante Parker and Calvin Anderson. Although neither was expected to play on Sunday, Parker's absence is a big blow to an already depleted receiving corps since Kendrick Bourne will miss the rest of the year.
On top of that unfortunate news, Trent Brown, Davon Godchaux, and Tyquan Thornton were all added to the list with new injuries.
Because the consistency of the offensive line remains problematic and Mac Jones will need as many receivers to step up in the void left by Bourne, the possibility of Brown and Thornton missing this upcoming game is anything but ideal.
The severity of their injuries has not been revealed, and they were able to practice on Friday in a limited capacity, so hopefully, there's more optimism they will be able to suit up in Week 9 than not because the offense will need them on the field.