Carson Wentz and the Eagles look to rebound against the Rams
It is a tale of two teams as the Los Angles Rams fly across the country to take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2. While the Rams are feeling pretty good following their season-opening victory over the Cowboys, the Eagles are stuck looking in the mirror wondering what went wrong in their opener in Washington. There will be no rest for the weary in Philadelphia because Aaron Donald is coming for Carson Wentz.
Can the Eagles avoid a dreadful 0-2 start to the season, or will they send the Rams home with a 1-1 record? It is still far too early to suggest this is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff race, but the stakes are pretty high given the situation this week. The Eagles may be able to survive an 0-2 start given the state of the NFC East, but a 2-0 start for the Rams could be big in the NFC West.
Los Angeles Rams at Philadelphia
Kickoff: Sunday, Sept. 20 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Eagles -1
Three Things to Watch
1. Aaron Donald vs. Eagles' offensive line
If you thought the Eagles offensive line struggled last week against Washington (and they did as Carson Wentz was sacked eight times), get ready. It could be another long and brutal day for Wentz and the offensive line this weekend. Donald was dominant in his 2020 debut last weekend against the Cowboys, even bull-rushing his way through running back Ezekiel Elliott at times. Donald could once again be a mighty force to reckon with in the trenches in week 2.
As if preparing for Donald was not enough, the Eagles also have plenty to deal with on its own; the stability of the offensive line is in dire straits in Philly. Lane Johnson missed last week's game, and his status remains in question going into Week 2. The Eagles already had to move Jason Peters to left tackle. Nate Herbig appears to be the go-to guy at right guard as the Eagles try to plug up their porous offensive line in time. The good news for the Eagles is Doug Pederson is seemingly optimistic that Johnson will be available. The Eagles have preventing Donald from racking up any sacks in three games against them in the past, albeit with five QB hits. Can they do it again?
2. Carson Wentz vs. Jared Goff
Carson Wentz and Jared Goff will forever be tied in history as the top two picks in the 2016 NFL Draft. The Rams traded up to for Goff, and the Eagles landed Wentz thanks to their own trade to move up. Both quarterbacks have had their ups and downs in their brief NFL careers. Wentz has a Super Bowl ring, but Nick Foles was playing in his place due to injury. Goff managed to get the Rams to the Super Bowl, but he and the rest of the offense imploded against the Patriots (the team the Eagles defeated the previous season). This will be the second meeting between the two quarterbacks (Wentz was injured the last time the two teams played).
Wentz has been under a microscope this week after his own disappointing performance against Washington, while Goff is hoping to take his team to 2-0 to start the season. Both quarterbacks could use a nice statement win this weekend, with Wentz looking to silence his doubters for a week and Goff looking to finally beat the Eagles.
3. Doug Pederson vs. Sean McVay
Goff isn't the only Ram looking to get a win against the Birds for the first time. McVay is trying to avoid going 0-3 against Pederson. Despite having home-field advantage in each of the previous two meetings with the Eagles, the Rams have come up short against Pederson's Eagles with McVay at the helm.
Pederson is not without his flaws as a head coach, but he has seemed to find ways to coach up his players enough to prevail against a talented Rams team in their previous two encounters. And he did so, largely, with a backup quarterback (Foles), including during the Rams' Super Bowl season. Pederson may have plenty of coaching up to do once again this week, with an embattled offensive line and an entire offensive unit that fizzled after jumping out to a 17-0 lead against Washington.
The Eagles should also get one of their key offensive players on the field this week, with running back Miles Sanders going through full practices after missing the season opener. Having Sanders running the ball should help the Eagles offense make some more plays. That could be enough of a difference to help the home team sustain some offensive strategies. The Rams will hope that Jalen Ramsey, a previous target of the Eagles, will make some plays too.
After getting roughed up in a division matchup last week, the Eagles should be able to see some significant improvement this weekend. They'll need it because the Rams have talent at multiple key positions that can hurt them. With Lane Johnson back to boost the offensive line, the threat Donald will present will be reduced, not eliminated. But the Eagles will take that.
Prediction: Eagles 23, Rams 20