There’s no doubt about it, the Eagles need to win this game against the Jets if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive. They won’t be mathematically eliminated if they lose, but they’ll be out of it mentally.
As many of us know, the Eagles have never lost to the New York Jets. The Jets are 0-11 all-time against Philly, the most losses against a team without a win in the NFL.
The Eagles opened as 6.5 point favorites, and it’s not hard to see why. Even despite their horrendous loss to the other New York team last week, the Eagles are far superior to the Jets in nearly every facet of the game. If they execute their game plan and stick to what they do best, they should enter the bye week fresh off a win.
Here are three key matchups the Eagles must win to ensure they keep their perfect record against the Jets alive.
Jonathan Gannon’s defense vs. Zach Wilson
By most accounts, Zach Wilson has been the worst starting quarterback in football this season. He’s thrown just four touchdowns to 10 interceptions, while completing 576% of his throws with a passer rating of 62.9.
He’s done essentially everything you’d expect out of rookie quarterback who’s surrounded by pedestrian talent and not quite ready for the speed of the NFL.
While Jonathan Gannon’s defense has struggled against some of the top tier quarterbacks in the league, they’ve done a fine job against average to below average signal callers. Since Week 8 against the Lions, Gannon’s defense has allowed an average of 229.4 passing yards per game. They’ve also improved in the turnover department as of late, tallying five turnovers over the past five weeks.
Facing a quarterback that’s turned it over at least once in every game he’s started except one, Gannon’s group should feast on Wilson’s inexperience.
Of course, there’s always the chance of a rookie quarterback finally putting it all together and flourishing, especially in the latter half of the season. But typically that comes after a few promising games, whereas Wilson has yet to put many respectable stat lines together.
If the Eagles force Wilson into mistakes and rattle his cage a bit with pressure, there’s just no way the Jets offense will be able to do anything substantial.
Eagles rushing attack vs. Jets run defense
I’ll just keep this one short and sweet. No one has been able to stop the Eagles rushing attack since Week 8, and the Jets have had trouble stopping anyone on the ground this year.
On average, the Jets are allowing 4.5 yards per carry and 128.7 yards per game on the ground. On the flip side, Philly has the best ground game in the NFL by almost every metric. They’re first in total rushing yards (1,895), rushing touchdowns (18), rushing first downs (119), and they’re tied for second in yards per carry (5.1).
The Eagles have totaled over 200 rushing yards in four out of their last five games, and there’s no reason to expect this pace to slow down against the Jets.
Eagles defensive line vs. Jets offensive line
If there’s one “strength” on this Jets team, it would have to be their offensive line.
From left to right, the starters along the Jets front are: George Fant, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Connor McGovern, Laurent Douvernay-Tardif, and Morgan Moses. As a unit, the Jets offensive line has allowed 31 sacks, sixth-most in the NFL. Like I said, it’s only a strength for the Jets because they don’t really have any other bright spots on their team at the moment.
The Eagles defensive line — a unit that was supposed to be the best group on the team entering the year — has underperformed all season. The line as a whole has only recorded 17.5 sacks this season and they’ve tallied just 19 as a team, tied for fourth-least in the NFL.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter who the Eagles are facing up front. If they show up, they have the potential to wreck an offensive game plan, but even some of the weaker lines in football have held the Eagles at bay this year.
Maybe this is the week they finally dominate the line of scrimmage defensively. They certainly have the advantage on paper, and it would go a long way to securing the win.