The Washington Football team was able to shock the football world in Week 1 when they took down the reigning, defending division champion Eagles 27-17.
What makes the victory even more impressive is the fact Washington came back from a 17-0 deficit. The defensive line took advantage of Philadelphia missing three starters en route to eight sacks on quarterback Carson Wentz.
Washington travels to Arizona to face off with the 1-0 Cardinals, who are coming off a 24-20 victory over the 2019 NFC champion 49ers. Both teams were favored to lose but came away victorious.
Check out Chris Crouse’s Desktop GM Podcast, as The Athletic’s Ben Standig joins him this week to discuss The Washington Football Team, as well as the team’s parallels to the Washington Wizards in the NBA.
Washington was without versatile cornerback Kendall Fuller in Week 1 due to a knee injury. Barring any pre-game setbacks, Fuller should be in the secondary come Sunday. He is currently listed as “questionable.” Washington will need him to help combat the ariel display of the Cardinals.
Linebacker Thomas Davis Sr. was a full participant in practice all week as he was dealing with a calf injury. He is also listed as “questionable.” Fellow linebacker Cole Holcomb is listed as “out” with a knee injury.
Matchups to Watch
The defensive line brought it last week against the Eagles with eight sacks, as aforementioned. That same defensive intensity needs to be brought against Arizona and blossoming quarterback Kyler Murray.
Murray has the ability to escape the pocket and use either his arm or his feet as weapons. If he uses his arm, he has the likes of DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald at his disposal, and the former made the most of his debut with the Cardinals last week. Hopkins caught a career-best 14 passes for 151 yards. Murray finished 26-40 for 230 yards, a touchdown, and a pick. He also led the team in rushing with 91 yards and a touchdown.
If the defensive line cannot apply pressure to Murray, it could spell a long day for Washington. The defensive front is going to be the most vital part if Washington wants to improve to 2-0. Chase Young, this year’s No. 2 overall pick was quite impressive in his NFL debut finishing with 1.5 sacks and tackles for losses while having two QB hits. He is going to be an x-factor not only in this game but for years to come for this defense.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. started off 3-13 and looked lost at times, something that cannot happen should Washington fall into an early deficit. He did finish 17-31 for 178 yards and a touchdown and did lead the team to points three out of four red-zone possessions. If Haskins can get into a rhythm against shaky Arizona defense, and get into the red zone, don’t be surprised to see Washington continue to score inside the 20.
Look for rookie running back Antonio Gibson to be more involved in the run game this week. He made his NFL debut against the Eagles, rushing nine times for 36 yards, with a long run of 20 yards. Raheem Mostert had over 100 purpose yards for the 49ers last week and Gibson is real similar in stature but is 30-pounds heavier and a little taller, but with the same explosive run capability. Peyton Barber handled the majority of the workload in Week 1 (17 carries, 29 yards, touchdown) but expect that ball to be distributed a bit more evenly this week.
Washington is a seven-point underdog this week against the Cardinals. If you are in the betting game, take Arizona plus the points. While Washington showed glimpses of what they eventually could become last week versus Philly, Arizona has more weapons offensively. Murray is too dynamic of a player and will likely give Washington fits all afternoon.