The New York Jets host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday hoping to not only hand the Eagles their first loss of the season, but also to hand them their first loss against the Jets ever. The teams last met in Zach Wilson’s rookie season. In that game, the Jets led 18-14 in the second quarter, but the Eagles scored 19 unanswered points to prevail 33-18. According to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Eagles are favored by 7 points in this game.
Pro bowler Jalen Hurts has received a lot of attention for his success in the so-called “Brotherly Shove” quarterback sneak package that has netted him 14 first downs, including four touchdowns, so far this season.
He’s more than just a short yardage specialist though. Hurts has rushed for 11 other first downs and, after a slow start, is racking up some good passing yards over the past few weeks with two consecutive 300-yard games.
Marcus Mariota is the backup, while sixth round rookie Tanner McKee is also on the roster. Mariota won five starts with the Atlanta Falcons last year.
The Eagles have one of the league’s best offensive lines, anchored by three Pro Bowlers - center Jason Kelce, left guard Landon Dickerson and right tackle Lane Johnson. Dickerson’s main weakness is penalties - he had 14 last year and has five in the first five games this season.
At left tackle, the mammoth Jordan Mailata has also developed into a solid starter, even though he gave up a team-high six sacks last year.
The lone change is at right guard, where Isaac Seumalo is the only starter not returning from a group that missed just three starts between them last season. 2022 second round pick Cam Jurgens began the year as his replacement, but reserve Sua Opeta filled in for him when he got hurt in week four and started last week. Both are healthy now, although Opeta is listed as the starter on the Eagles’ website.
On the bench, Jack Driscoll has started 16 games in his first three seasons and can play both guard and tackle. Philadelphia also added Fred Johnson, who started eight games for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2019 to 2021, and drafted Tyler Steen in the third round.
D’Andre Swift has been a big offseason pickup for the Eagles, who were looking to replace thousand-yard rusher Miles Sanders. Swift is well on his way to emulating this as he’s fourth in the NFL in rushing yards and third in yards per carry.
Although the Eagles’ run blocking is excellent and one of the main reasons for Swift’s success, his main backup - Kenneth Gainwell - is only averaging 3.3 yards per carry and less than five yards per catch.
Boston Scott and Rashaad Penny haven’t played much but Scott has generated 50 yards on just seven touches.
The Eagles have some excellent pass catching talent, led by thousand-yard receivers AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith. Brown is having another monster season, but Smith is off to a slow start so far.
They also have a solid pass catching tight end in Dallas Goedert, who caught 55 passes for over 700 yards last year.
Beyond these three, the Eagles don’t have a great deal of depth. At wide receiver, Quez Watkins has just been placed on injured reserve and Britain Covey is more of a special teamer. However, Olamide Zaccheus has some playmaking ability and speedster Devon Allen was elevated from the practice squad.
Backup tight ends Jack Stoll and Grant Calcaterra don’t play a significant role, but Jets fans are well aware that the team has been giving up a lot of touchdowns to reserve tight ends this season. The Eagles also recently added Albert Okwuegbunam but he hasn’t played yet.
The Eagles’ defense has brought back several key contributors, but they have lost six players who played more than 800 snaps last year, including their five leading tacklers.
They still have a strong and deep defensive line, though. In 2022, four of their players were into double digits for sacks and three of these return on the edge - Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat and Haason Reddick.
Despite being listed as a linebacker, Reddick - who led them with 16 sacks and five forced fumbles in 2022 - gets most of the reps on the edge along with Sweat on the other end of the line, while Graham is now more of a rotational player, as is former first rounder Derek Barnett.
The defensive interior has been boosted by drafting Jalen Carter, who has been a disruptive force and leads the team already with 3.5 sacks. The good news for the Jets is that Carter injured his ankle in practice during the week and will sit out Sunday’s game.
With Carter out, veteran Fletcher Cox will start alongside last year’s first round pick Jordan Davis, with Milton Williams as the main reserve. Cox almost joined the Jets in the offseason before opting to remain in Philadelphia.
Kentavius Street, seventh round rookie Moro Ojomo and Marlon Tuipulotu are also available to provide depth, but Tuipulotu has been listed as questionable for Sunday. First round rookie Nolan Smith could also get some reps on the edge.
The Eagles primarily operate with two off-ball linebackers in the game with veterans Zach Cunningham and Nicholas Morrow essentially playing full time roles. Morrow, who entered the game against Washington with four career sacks in five seasons, broke out with three sacks in that game and leads the team in tackles for loss. He has also scored two safeties this year.
Christian Elliss and Patrick Johnson have been available for depth, but last year’s third round pick Nakobe Dean has just been activated from injured reserve, having started the year in the rotation.
The Eagles have some injury concerns in the secondary with starting cornerback Darius Slay having been ruled out of Sunday’s game and starting safety Justin Evans going onto injured reserve earlier this week. That adds to the loss of Avonte Maddox, who is also on injured reserve having started eight games last year.
At cornerback, James Bradberry led the team with 17 pass breakups last year, but the picture is otherwise unclear. Youngster Josh Jobe had been called into action on the outside but he’s been struggling, with three touchdowns given up, and he didn’t get any reps last week.
The position at nickel back is no clearer. Mario Goodrich is listed as the starter there but the Eagles turned to veteran Bradley Roby against the Rams last Sunday. Roby, who had been elevated from the practice squad, has now been added to the active roster. Undrafted rookie Eli Ricks also saw some reps in the slot last week.
With Evans out, Reed Blankenship and Terrell Edmunds will start at safety. Blankenship leads the team in tackles and also has six pass breakups. The Eagles run a lot of three safety sets, but the only other safety on their 53-man roster, third round rookie Sydney Brown, has been listed as questionable for Sunday.
Fourth round rookie Kelee Ringo also offers some depth at the cornerback position but he’s only played one snap so far. They did also elevate Mekhi Garner from the practice squad though.
2021 Pro Bowler Jake Elliott is off to a good start this season. He’s only missed one field goal all year. Elliott’s four field goals against the Jets in 2021 turned a 21-18 game into a 33-18 win.
The Eagles began the season with Arryn Siposs as their punter, but they just made a change, getting rid of him and signing Braden Mann to the active roster. Mann, who was drafted by the Jets in 2020, had been filling in off the practice squad.
In the return game, Covey is their punt returner. He had a 52-yard return earlier this year. Zaccheus is listed as his backup. Nobody has returned more than one kickoff for them all season but Scott is listed as their kickoff returner for now. They could use Allen here though.
In kick coverage, Dean, Elliss and Patrick Johnson are their most productive returning players from last year. Ringo, Jobe and Brown have all seen work as primary gunners.