NFL week two preview: Can the Philadelphia Eagles protect Carson Wentz from Aaron Donald?

Week one of the NFL season saw a number of upsets, will more follow this weekend?

Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (91) sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (not pictured) in the second quarter at FedExField. 
Washington defensive end Ryan Kerrigan sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL returned last week, providing as many upsets and as much late drama as ever. It is fair to say week two has plenty to live up to.

Early Friday morning sees the Battle for Ohio take place, with two underwhelming franchises in search of their first win of the season meeting. A sense of optimism seems to be developing around the Cincinnati Bengals, following an assured debut from new quarterback and first overall draft pick Joe Burrow. 

The same cannot be said of the Cleveland Browns who, despite a talented roster, were humbled in their opening game of the season against the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns will not be the last team to get well-beaten by the Ravens and the organisation will view the Bengals game as must-win.

Elsewhere, a number of intriguing clashes take place from across the league.

Five key clashes

Philadelphia Eagles vs Los Angeles Rams: Can the Eagles offensive line protect their quarterback?

The Philadelphia Eagles could hardly have gotten off to a worse start, losing to divisional rival Washington - a team who was tipped to be one of the worst in the league. Ouch.

The Eagles have been plagued with injuries on the offensive line which allowed a strong Washington defensive front to capitalise in week one. Carson Wentz was sacked a remarkable eight times.

Alarm bells will be ringing loud in Philadelphia as they will have to try and stop the best defensive tackle in the league, Aaron Donald, breaking through the middle to tackle their injury-prone quarterback in week two. It could be another chastening experience for the highly-talented Wentz, who this week said of Donald: "He's a monster. Everyone knows it." 

Aaron Donald exerted pressure on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in week one Credit: AP

From a Los Angeles Rams perspective, they got their season started with a win against a playoff calibre side - Sean McVay cannot ask for too much more than that. However, the Rams will be looking for more fluency from their offense in week two, after it stuttered in the second half.

Wentz and Jared Goff were the two leading quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft, they face-off on Sunday in an intriguing encounter. It should be a close one.

Indianapolis Colts vs Minnesota Vikings: Will the Colts bounce back after a shock defeat?

Two talented teams that registered losses in the opening round. The Colts suffered one of the shocks of week one, losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars after surrendering a fourth quarter lead. It was certainly not the start that Philip Rivers wanted in Indianapolis.

Running back Marlon Mack limped off with a suspected achilles injury. However, there is a silver lining for the Colts with rookie Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines putting in impressive performances in the same position which should soften the blow of losing Mack.

For the Vikings, there is no shame in losing to the Green Bay Packers - even if they are a rival. Yet, losing in the fashion they did will be a bitter pill to swallow for Mike Zimmer. The Vikings defense was truly woeful. On a positive note, stud running back Dalvin Cook looked sharp scoring two touchdowns and wide receiver Adam Thielen looked back towards his best.

But the real focus here is on the Colts. They have a new quarterback in Rivers and all the pieces to be a contender. After a shock upset in week one, Indianapolis need some momentum. The Vikings will feel confident however, entering the game as slight favourites.

Arizona Cardinals vs Washington Football Team: Can Kyler Murray evade the Washington defense?

Who would have thought this would be one of the key clashes in week two? After both these teams sprung surprises in the opening round, one is likely to end up 2-0.

The Cardinals will be favourites having defeated a very strong San Francisco 49ers outfit. Arizona's offense could end up being one of the league's best on the evidence of week one.

The key match-up to look out for is whether Washington’s defense can pressure Kyler Murray. Washington racked up eight sacks last week, with rookie Chase Young impressing in his first taste of NFL action, but Murray’s mobility and nimble footwork make him the epitome of a tough target.

Who will come out on top? Arizona’s dynamite offensive or Washington’s powerful defense?

Houston Texans vs Baltimore Ravens: Will Baltimore's momentum continue?

The Texans have a truly brutal start to their schedule. They faced the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs in week one, coming out on the losing side, and now face another of the league's elite sides on Sunday.

Houston did not play badly against Kansas City, but they still lost comfortably. In all honesty that says more about the quality of the Chiefs than anything else. That being said, Deshaun Watson looked like he missed star receiver DeAndre Hopkins - who had an outstanding debut for the Cardinals, rubbing salt into the wound.

The Texans offense needs to show it can thrive without him and they will certainly need to rack up some points to be in with a chance against the Ravens.

Baltimore looked formidable in week one, breaking the spirit of the Cleveland Browns with minimal effort.

Lamar Jackson continued his superb form from the 2019 season against the Cleveland Browns Credit: GETTY IMAGES

Lamar Jackson completed 20 of 25 passes for 275 yards, passing for three touchdowns with no interceptions. For a quarterback more renowned for his running game, Jackson showed his ability to throw the ball is improving - a worrying sign for the rest of the league.

The Ravens won 41-7 in last season's encounter between these sides. Expect Baltimore to move to 2-0.

Seattle Seahawks vs New England Patriots: Russell Wilson vs Cam Newton, two of the most talented QB's face-off

This could be the most well balanced match-up of week two. Both sides sit just below the top contenders, but possess the talent to go all the way.

Russell Wilson led an impressive offensive showing from Seattle in week one, with Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde, Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and veteran tight end Greg Olsen all getting in on the action.

The Patriots were also impressive, although in a more understated, Patriots way. New England has altered the offense to suit the skill set of the mobile Cam Newton, who ran for 75 yards including two rushing touchdowns. However, the Patriots face much sterner opposition this time around. It will be fascinating to see how much they rely on the run game via Newton or whether they will be forced to throw more often against a high-powered offense.

Can the well organised Patriots defense outmanoeuvre the Seahawks offense?