Week 2: vs Los Angeles Rams 1pm (FOX)
Rams 1-0 (Beat Dallas last week 20-17)
Alshon Jeffery (OUT)
Brandon Graham (Questionable)
Derek Barnett (Questionable)
Vinny Curry (OUT)
Eagles try to get back to .500 as they host Los Angeles
After a disappointing week one loss to the Washington Football Team, the birds return to Philadelphia for their home opener against the Los Angeles Rams. The Eagles struggled to keep Carson Wentz upright last week, as he was sacked 8 times by the Washington defense. A similar outcome is possible if the Eagles don’t fix the line issues. The Rams have arguably the best defensive lineman in the league in Aaron Donald and can single handedly affect the outcome of a game. To go along with the All-Pro Donald, last season they added All-Pro Cornerback Jalen Ramsey. It’ll be interesting how the Rams use Ramsey vs the Eagles receivers. The Eagles don’t have a true number one receiver so I would expect Ramsey to cover Ertz and Goedert at times during the game. An underrated player on their defense is safety John Johnson III. Expect him to follow one of the tight ends for most of the game. He has the size and whereabouts to play in the box, but also the skill to cover pass catchers in space.
Offensively the Rams are led by 5th year Quarterback Jared Goff from Cal. Last season Goff threw for 4600 yards, 22 TD’s, and 16 INT’s. The Rams however look a little different than years past on the offensive side of the ball. This offseason they decided to move on from RB Todd Gurley and trade WR Brandin Cooks. Despite moving on from those two significant parts of their offense, they replaced them this offseason as well. In the second round of this past draft, they selected RB Cam Akers out of Florida State and WR Van Jefferson from Florida. The strongest part of their offensive might be their two solid wideouts Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Last season Woods caught 90 passes for 1134 yards and Kupp caught 94 passes for 1161 yards. Kupp had receiving TD’s to Woods’ 2, but both are dynamic playmakers on the outside that could cause problems for the Eagles secondary.
Offensively for the Eagles, protecting Wentz has to be priority one. He was sacked 8 times last week and if the Eagles have postseason aspirations, they need to make sure he stays upright. RT Lane Johnson is expected to play this week after he missed week 1, recovering from offseason ankle surgery. With Brandon Brooks still on the IR, Nate Herbig will get his second straight start at RG. The Eagles will also be getting RB Miles Sanders back as he is expected to make his season debut. The Eagles got out to a quick 17-0 start last week by utilizing the middle of the field, and playing with a quick tempo. While Washington has the better defensive line, the Rams have the better overall defense. The Rams have the personnel to make it difficult for Wentz, Ertz, and Goedert to get in a rhythm together. Getting Sanders back and adding him to Reagor, Jackson, Arcega-Whiteside, and the TE’s should allow the Eagles to move the ball.
Defensively the Eagles are also getting some help. Jaron Hargrave is expected to make his Eagles debut as well at DT. The Eagles defensive line played really well last week before losing Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham to injuries. Malik Jackson and Fletcher Cox did an excellent job at disrupting the middle and getting pressure on Dwayne Haskins. Adding Hargrave will allow the Eagles to rotate Jackson and Cox and keeping them fresh throughout the game. The Eagles aren’t completely healthy on the defensive line but could get some more help as Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett are questionable. Barnett missed last week with a hamstring injury but is going to test in pre game to see if he is able to go. Graham had a great game last week until he was knocked out in the second half with a concussion. ESPN’s Tim McManus reported that Graham must remain symptom free until game time in order to play.
Carson Wentz and Jared Goff’s careers will always be linked with one another’s. The top two picks in the 2016 NFL draft, Wentz and Goff have only squared off against each other once. It was 2017 in Los Angeles. Wentz led the 10-2 Eagles into LA looking to cement themselves as the top team in the NFC. In the third quarter, Wentz dove into the end zone trying to score and was hit in his knee, subsequently tearing two ligaments and ending his season. Before leaving that game, Wentz was 23 for 41, for 291 yards, 4 TD’s and 1 INT. Wentz was also on his way to having an MVP season. He had thrown for 3296 yards, 33 TD’s, and only 7 INT. The Eagles faced the Rams the following season but Wentz was out for the season with a back injury so Nick Foles started the game.
Players to watch:
RB Miles Sanders
DT Javon Hargrave
TE Zach Ertz
Matchup of the Game:
Carson Wentz vs Jared Goff
Although there are no fans, playing at home definitely is an advantage. The Rams also have to travel to the East Coast and play a 1pm game which is never easy for west coast teams. The Eagles were embarrassed last week, by blowing a 17 point lead and giving up 24 unanswered points. I expect the Eagles to be aggressive early again and with Lane and Sanders back, they should do a much better job protecting Wentz and establishing a run game. While starting 0-2 wouldn’t mean the end of the season, it’s definitely not something the Eagles wanna have to dig out of especially with a tough stretch coming up. Doug Pederson is 2-0 career against Rams coach Sean McVay and has shown the ability to bounce back after poor games, making this a perfect spot for the Eagles and Wentz to get back on track.
Eagles 31 Rams 24