5 sneaky threats for Commanders to worry about vs. Patriots in Week 9

The Commanders must keep these sneaky threats contained.
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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JuJu Smith-Schuster is the headline name among the five sneaky threats the Washington Commanders should worry about in Week 9.

The New England Patriots are no longer a star-studded dynasty, but there are still some hidden gems on a 2-6 roster for the Washington Commanders to worry about. Veteran wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster headlines a group of five sneaky threats that also includes a backup tight end and a pair of unheralded edge-rushers.

These lesser-known talents should be a big part of the Commanders' game plan at Gillette Stadium in Week 9. We begin with a pass rusher trying to pick up the slack in the absence of injured four-time Pro Bowler Matthew Judon.

Commanders must not ignore Jahlani Tavai

Judon being out for the season with a biceps injury has hamstrung the Patriots' pass rush. The problem has been compounded by fellow edge-rusher Josh Uche not being as effective as he was during an 11.5-sack campaign in 2022.

That doesn't mean the Commanders shouldn't be wary of some of the Patriots' other edge defenders. Particularly the increasingly disruptive Jahlani Tavai.

He's logged a sack and been in on four pressures in 2023 so far. More than the numbers, Tavai has brought a ceaseless engine to New England's blitz packages.

The relentless 27-year-old is winning with hustle, the way he did to takedown Dak Prescott against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 4.

Protecting quarterback Sam Howell has been a tall order for the Commanders all season, so Tavai could dominate if Washington's offensive line isn't on point. Worryingly, he is not the only edge player offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy needs to be concerned about.