The visiting Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets come into this matchup looking for the same thing – a win that will keep them relevant, playoff-wise. The Eagles are well-rested and coming off a bye week, while the Jets blew a 10-point lead in losing to the New York Giants 35-24 last week. Both teams’ quarterbacks have been inconsistent; but to be fair, the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb has had no real O-line pass protection while the Jets’ Chad Pennington suffers from a lack of a running game.
The Eagles should experience some better rushing numbers as running back Brian Westbrook (51 rushes, 291 yards, 2 TD’s; 19 catches, 223 yards, 1 TD) will probably start; he is arguably the MVP of the Eagles squad. McNabb (79-for-136, 943 yards, 5 TD’s, 1 INT) may just get a big boost in those numbers because of the lack of a Jets’ pass rush. Wide receiver Kevin Curtis (19-323-3 TD’s) has been a pleasant surprise for the Eagles, as Reggie Brown has underachieved at this juncture. The Eagles defense is still stout (ranked #9 overall) with their run defense being the key here. Defensive end Trent Cole (5 sacks) leads the defensive line with ample support from linebackers Takeo Spikes (25 tackles, 20 solo) and Omar Gaither (24 tackles, 19 solo, 1 INT).
The Jets’ offense has been somewhat conservative, with the rushing attack taking the brunt of the criticism (77 yards per game – #29 in the league). RB Thomas Jones is to this point having a rotten campaign (88-290) and will need to pick it up ASAP. QB Chad Pennington (84-of-118, 811 yards, 6 TD’s, 5 INT’s), while not having the strongest of arms, is very accurate. But one cannot avoid the rumors about reserve QB Kellen Clemens taking over at some point this season, so this game should be very important to Pennington. Regardless of who the QB is, they have a couple dependable WR’s – Jerricho Cotchery (30-414) and Laveranues Coles (32-300-4). A pleasant surprise in what has been a rotten year for the Jets’ defense is DE Kenyon Coleman (33 tackles, 27 solo) – a unusually high number of tackles for a defensive lineman. Also – let’s not forget rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis (33 tackles, 27 solo) – he has been effective against the pass thus far.
The Eagles’ path to victory should be made easier to travel should their pass rush be utilized properly. McNabb will also need to expose the secondary, as well. The Jets will need a breakout game from Jones and the offensive line will need to provide Pennington and/or Clemens superlative protection if the passing game expects to succeed Sunday. But what I do envision is Westbrook running at will against the Jets’ O-line and McNabb having a somewhat decent day, which is all the Eagles will need in what will be a decisive win for the Eagles this weekend.