NFL Week 2 preview: 3 ways the Washington Football Team can beat the Cardinals

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Football Team heads into Week 2 with the momentum, coming off an upset victory the Philadelphia Eagles. Heading into another tough matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, who pulled off a similar shocker against the San Francisco 49ers, both teams will be looking to build on their early success in the 2020 NFL season.

Once again, Washington enters their matchup as the underdog. Arizona’s offense has improved drastically since 2019, and the combination of Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake, and DeAndre Hopkins has the nation buzzing.

NFL odds: Lines and points spreads for all Week 2 games

As we preview Week 2 of the NFL season, here are three ways Washington could surprise once more to stun the football world and upset the Cardinals.

Washington’s offense will go as far as Dwayne Haskins takes it

Entering his second season, Haskins struggled as a passer in Week 1 against the Eagles. However, the young quarterback came through as a leader and it made a difference in the epic comeback.

  • Haskins completed 17-of-31 passes for only 178 yards and one touchdown.
  • With the quarterback struggling, Washington’s offense couldn’t find its stride and it led to 17-point deficit early in Week 1. For many, this team seemed destined to suffer another blowout.

The 23-year-old stepped up with a fiery halftime speech and it energized the team. When Washington returned to the field, the team started executing on both sides of the ball. Haskins must improve upon his Week 1 performance for Washington to pull off another upset win, especially if the running game can’t support him.

Arizona held the NFL’s No. 2 rushing offense last season to 123 yards rushing and zero touchdowns. Meanwhile, Washington struggled on the ground against Philadelphia with just 80 yards on 36 attempts.

On a promising note, rookie Antonio Gibson showed flashes of greatness. He ripped off a pivotal 20-yard run that showcased his game-changing ability. At the same time, Peyton Barber and J.D. McKissic struggled with 27 rushing yards on 20 total attempts.

The pressure will be on Haskins to get the passing game going, helping out his defense by putting points on the board early. Emerging star Terry McLaurin only had five receptions for 61 yards, that must change. He must be more involved moving forward, especially with deep shots downfield.

Washington must contain Cardinals’ speed

Washington’s defense dominated the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive line. The Eagles’ offensive line was banged up, but it still should take away from the dominance displayed from the best defensive line in football (hyperlink)

The defensive line finished with eight sacks and made Wentz’s life a living nightmare. Chase Young and the rest of the defensive line will have their hands full with mobile quarterback Kyler Murray. However, Washington has the speed on the line to keep up with Murray and will be able to keep him in check.

Washington’s secondary struggled early week one but had resilience and bounced back to complete the dominance. They intercepted Wentz twice, and flashed their potential.

Philadelphia had a depleted receiving core and their weapons on offense do not compare to Arizona’s. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the NFL, and he will have his name called on all game. Hopkins finished with 14 receptions for 151 yards versus the 49ers in week one. Hopkins might be able to have even better numbers versus Washington.

If the pass rush does get to Murray, he has two speedy running backs who can catch the ball out of the backfield and make defenders miss. Washington’s linebackers will be tasked with containing Kenyan Drake and Chase Edmonds.

Consistency and sustain drives will determine Week 2

Washington’s defense can prove how great it is by shutting down Arizona’s offensive attack. However, there is only so much they can do to limit the explosive weapons. Murray, Hopkins and Drake will make a few big plays, the key is to limit those opportunities.

Haskins must provide his defense a cushion by scoring early and sustaining clock-killing drives. Third-down conversions will be vital for Washington to keep their defense rested on the sidelines. Arizona has too much speed on offense and could wear Washington’s defense down.

If Haskins can convert on third downs and complete important passes, Washington might pull off another upset.