The New York Jets got their second win of the season last Sunday over the woeful Denver Broncos. Breece Hall had a monster game in his 2023 coming out party to lead the way for the Jets offense. Now the Jets return home to take on the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles are the defending NFC champions and one of only two remaining teams without a loss (the San Francisco 49ers are the other undefeated team). The Eagles have a top 10 offense and a top 10 defense. They rank second in the NFL in rushing yards and first in defending the run. This is a deep and talented Eagles team that will be extremely difficult to beat, particularly with D.J. Reed and Brandin Echols out for the game and Sauce Gardner questionable. With Breece Hall likely to find things difficult on the ground, Zach Wilson will likely have to have a big game if the Jets are to have any chance in this one. Looking on the bright side, pass defense has been the primary Eagles weakness thus far in 2023, so perhaps Wilson can get things going through the air in a big way.
Previewing this matchup, Brandon Lee Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding the 2023 Philadelphia Eagles.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. The “brotherly shove” has become an all but unstoppable part of the Eagles’ playbook. Many teams have tried to copy it, but none have had the same level of success as the Eagles. What is it about the Eagles that makes this play uniquely effective for them?
They have a strong, athletic quarterback who can squat about 2.7 times his body weight. They have one of the NFL’s very best offensive lines that features a future Hall of Fame center. They have one of the best OL coaches in the league who regularly maximizes the talent he’s given to work with. They have a head coach who’s typically not afraid to be aggressive and go for it on fourth down. Their experience running it over and over certainly doesn’t hurt. The pushing from behind also helps but often isn’t even necessary to converting.
2. Each team’s fanbase knows their team much better than other fans. Usually there are a few guys who your team’s fans know about and love, but other fans might not be too familiar with. Could you let Jets fans know a few unsung heroes on the Eagles, if possible at least one on both offense and defense?
Offense: Not many unsung options to pick from with the Eagles having a lot of star power at the skill positions. But we’ll go with Olamide Zaccheaus, who had some nice catches as WR3 when Quez Watkins missed a couple games. OZ is not going to see target volume playing alongside A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. But he is capable of making a big catch — like he did between two defenders to convert a crucial third-and-long in Week 4 — when his number is called. With Watkins banged up again, OZ has a chance of seeing some looks against the Jets.
Defense: Milton Williams doesn’t have the same name recognition that the likes of Fletcher Cox, Jalen Carter, and Jordan Davis do. But he’s a valuable member of the Eagles’ defensive tackle rotation who’s capable of both generating pressure and stopping the run. Williams will play a bigger role than usual with Carter expected to miss Sunday’s game. He could flash going up against the Jets’ interior offensive line.
Special teams: Dating back to the beginning of the 2022 season, Britain Covey leads the NFL in punt returns of at least 20 yards. The Jets’ special teams unit can’t sleep on him.
3. How is the 2023 Eagles draft class working out? Who are the early contributors?
The aforementioned Jalen Carter is a flat out beast. He ranks tied with Aaron Donald for the most pressures generated by an interior defender this season with 21 through five games. With 3.5 sacks so far, Carter is currently on pace for a double-digit sack season as a rookie. He could conceivably be a Pro Bowler and perhaps even an All-Pro selection as a rookie. Pretty wild.
The Jets are fortunate that they don’t have to face Carter.
Outside of him, no one is really playing a big role. Nolan Smith is a rotational pass rusher at this stage. Sydney Brown has a chance to start at safety if he can get and stay healthy. Kelee Ringo is playing gunner on punt coverage.
4. If you were the head coach of a rival team, how would you go about attacking this Philadelphia Eagles team on offense and on defense?
Nice try. I’m not giving you the answers!
If I’m the Jets, I’m looking to get Quinnen Williams matched up on backup right guard Sua Opeta. Opeta held up against Aaron Donald and the Rams’ front last week but he’s the Eagles’ weakest link on a strong offensive line. Pressuring Hurts and getting him to bail the pocket early can get the Eagles’ passing attack out of rhythm. I do expect the Jets’ defensive talent to slow down an Eagles offense that has been trending in the right direction.
When it comes to the Jets offense … that’s a tough one. Hard for me to say they should simply air it out with Zach Wilson. But the Eagles have been vulnerable over the middle of the field and their secondary is currently banged up. For this week’s game, they’ll be missing starting cornerback Darius Slay, starting nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox, and starting safety Justin Evans. If I’m the Jets, I look to attack backup safety options Terrell Edmunds and/or Sydney Brown where I can. I also look to challenge an Eagles run defense that’s been good but hasn’t faced a running back nearly as talented as Breece Hall just yet.
5. If you were a betting man which team would you bet on winning this game, and why? Also, are you surprised the defending NFC champions are only a touchdown favorite over the struggling New York Jets?
Can’t lie, the Eagles’ injury issues worry me a little bit. Especially when it comes to not having Carter.
But I feel like the Eagles’ offense has been figuring things out after being a bit out of sorts to begin the season. Jalen Hurts’ passing success might be limited against a Jets defense that’s held opposing quarterbacks to their worst games of the year. But the Eagles’ rushing attack should be capable of moving the ball against NYJ.
The Eagles’ pass rush should be able to force Zach Wilson into a turnover or two. The Jets should be concerned about backup right tackle Max Mitchell going up against Haason Reddick, who is heating up since getting his cast removed ahead of Week 4. He’s up to three sacks in his last two games and they were high-impact plays in crucial moments.
I don’t think the Eagles should be favored by more. If anything, I think the spread is a little unfair to a Jets team that’s been pretty competitive despite an unideal quarterback situation. I do like the Birds to ultimately cover. But I hardly expect this to be a cake walk for Philly. I think it’s a close game until the Eagles ultimately pull away with a late touchdown.
Eagles win, 24 to 13.