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Previewing the Jets’ opposition: Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles v New York Giants Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The Eagles and Jets last met in 2019, as Luke Falk was at the helm for the Jets, who predictably lost 31-6. No Jets team has ever beaten Philadelphia in regular season action and the road team Eagles will be favored on Sunday. Despite being 5-7, the Eagles are widely considered to be better than their record as they have four losses by six points or less and a win could keep them in postseason contention so it’s a big game for them.

Quarterbacks

At the start of the week, it wasn’t certain that Eagles’ starting quarterback Jalen Hurts would be available because he was dealing with an ankle injury. He’s since confirmed he will start against the Jets, but is still listed as questionable.

In weeks three and four, Hurts had back-to-back 300-yard games as a passer, but doesn’t have one since then and is coming off his worst game of the season as he threw three interceptions and completed less than half of his pass attempts in a 13-7 loss to the Giants.

He did, however, rack up 77 yards on the ground, as his mobility makes him a playmaking threat. Could that be compromised if his ankle slows him down though?

Backup Gardner Minshew has also been prepared to start in case Hurts is unable to go. Having traded Joe Flacco to the Jets, the Eagles now have Reid Sinnett as their number three.

Offensive Line

The offensive line is the key to the Eagles’ offense, as they lead the NFL in rushing having racked up another 208 yards against the Giants. While this is admittedly inflated by Hurts’ ability to scramble, they can be a force up front.

The Eagles have continued to have success despite the fact their two opening day starters at guard - Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks - are on injured reserve. In addition, Jack Driscoll, who had been starting at right guard for Brooks, just got injured last week and joined them on the reserve list.

Brooks, right tackle Lane Johnson and center Jason Kelce have all been pro bowlers within the past two seasons so they began the year with plenty of veteran talent. Kelce has been the only lineman to start all 12 games but even he is dealing with a knee injury after being temporarily knocked out of the Giants game. He should still make the start on Sunday, which will be his 118th in a row. Johnson has been solid, but also missed three games.

At left tackle, Jordan Mailata is having an outstanding season as he finally is delivering on his raw athletic potential. Second round rookie Landon Dickerson is settling well into his role at guard next to Mailata too, especially in the running game. Dickerson has given up more pressure than anyone else, but no Eagles player has given up more than two sacks.

The only uncertain position is right guard where reserve Nate Herbig had to fill in last week when Driscoll was injured. He was already in the game at center for Kelce, but Kelce reentered at that point.

On the bench, former first round pick Andre Dillard had been a disappointment overall but fared well in four starts earlier in the year, although he does have a team-high six penalties. Sua Opeta and the recently promoted Brett Toth are also available as cover.

Running Backs

The Eagles’ league-leading running game is actually paced by Hurts, who has almost 700 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. However, their top three backs - Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jordan Howard - are all averaging over 4.5 yards per carry.

Sanders doesn’t have a 100-yard game or a touchdown all season, but he’s been consistent. He gained a season high 94 yards on the ground two weeks ago against the Saints.

Howard and Scott have also been productive, combining for over 550 yards and seven touchdowns. On Sunday, Scott carried a team-high 15 times and had a touchdown but also lost a fumble.

Sanders, Howard and Scott have all missed practice time this week but Sanders is definitely set to play. Howard, however, has been ruled out and Scott is questionable.

The other running back, fifth round rookie Kenneth Gainwell, may need to step up. He’s only averaging 3.6 yards per carry but was the Eagles’ leading receiver against the Giants and has four touchdowns.

Pass catchers

Speedy first round rookie DeVonta Smith leads the Eagles in receptions (48), receiving yards (686) and touchdowns (four) as he is putting together an impressive first season.

The other starters are Jalen Reagor, who has 25 catches but only averages eight yards per reception and Quez Watkins, who leads the team with a 15.4 yards per catch average. Reserves Greg Ward and JJ Arcega-Whiteside have just two catches each.

At tight end, Zach Ertz was traded to the Cardinals so Dallas Goedert is now the top option. He has 35 catches and is averaging a career-high 14 yards per catch. Jack Stoll and Tyree Jackson have yet to produce much in reserve.

Defensive Line

The Eagles defense has been above average but they haven’t created many turnovers this season.

On the defensive line, the Eagles lost Brandon Graham to a season-ending injury and it’s affected their pass rush. Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave leads the team with seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits. Alongside him, Fletcher Cox still has plenty left in the tank although he will turn 31 later this month. His production is down as he has just one sack, though.

The starters at defensive end are Josh Sweat and Derek Barnett, who have just 5.5 sacks between them. Sweat is generating pressure at a decent rate though and Barnett has been solid against the run.

The bench includes a couple of experienced veterans in Ryan Kerrigan and Hassan Ridgeway. Ridgeway has struggled to hold up against the run.

They also have three draft picks on the bench - third round tackle Milton Williams and sixth rounders Tarron Jackson and Marlon Tuipulotu. Of the three, Williams has been the only consistent regular in the rotation, although Jackson’s playing time has been increasing.

Linebackers

At linebacker, TJ Edwards and Alex Singleton play a full time role with Genard Avery listed as the other starter but just playing situationally.

Singleton already has over 100 tackles on the season to lead the team but he’s struggled in coverage. Eric Wilson and Davion Taylor each got plenty of playing time earlier in the season but Taylor is now on injured reserve and Wilson was released last month.

Shaun Bradley and seventh round pick Patrick Johnson are on the bench but haven’t played much this year.

Defensive Backs

The Eagles currently have nine cornerbacks on their active roster but only three of them have seen significant playing time. Darius Slay is their best corner and he leads the team with three interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. The other starter on the outside is Steven Nelson and Avonte Maddox is the slot cornerback. Maddox, who leads the team with seven passes defensed, signed an extension a few weeks ago.

The Eagles have three rookies on the bench - fourth rounder Zech McPhearson, the undrafted Mac McCain and Kary Vincent, who was a seventh round pick for the Broncos, subsequently acquired by Philiadelphia via trade.

Andre Chachere, Tay Gowan and Josiah Scott are also on the roster. Scott is listed as the primary backup to Maddox.

At safety, Anthony Harris and Rodney McLeod are the starters but Marcus Epps has also started three games and sees some action as a third safety. K’Von Wallace has also seen action.

Special Teams

Jake Elliott is having a fine season as the Eagles’ placekicker, making 48 of his 50 kicks on the season with neither of his misses being too costly. Having a former pro bowl long snapper in Rick Lovato probably helps.

The punter, Arryn Siposs, is in his first season after not playing during his rookie year with Detroit. The former Aussie Rules player has below average numbers and has given up the sixth highest return yards total in the league.

Reagor is the main return man on punts and kickoffs having just handled punts last year. His numbers are not great but he is a threat as he had a 94-yard touchdown last year. Ward backs him up on punts, while Watkins does on kickoffs.

In kick coverage, Bradley is the team’s most productive player, followed by Chachere and Patrick Johnson. On punts, McPhearson gets downfield well as a gunner but he’s missed several tackles.

Check out the odds for this week’s matchup courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.