New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh and his team are almost through the most difficult part of their 2023 schedule. In their first six games, Gang Green had to face four playoff teams and five that finished last season with a winning record.
On Sunday at MetLife, the 2-3 Jets will play the last of their regular season gauntlet with a matchup against the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
As teams go, there’s a lot of connections between the Birds and the Jets. Both teams are built the same way and have similar philosophies on how to win football games. There’s some extra juice to a matchup like this with New York coming off a season-altering win in Denver, and having never beaten the Eagles before in franchise history.
Can the Jets reverse their fortune against the undefeated Birds? Today, we break down the matchup here.
New York Jets vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Where: MetLife Stadium
When: Sunday, October 15th, 2023
Kickoff Time: 4:25 pm – ET
How to watch: FOX
Line: Eagles -7.0
Keys to the Game
Stop the Run
Philadelphia and New York are built very similarly. Both teams want to run the ball successfully and have front sevens trained to dominate up front. The chess match within the trenches will be exciting to watch.
The Jets certainly have the bodies to win up front and in the secondary. They matchup well where Philadelphia’s offense is at their best and it could play a roll in a potential upset Sunday evening. That being said, stopping the Eagles offense is easier said than done.
Gang Green has struggled with mobile quarterbacks this season, focusing more on removing the big play than the back-breaking gashes that have hurt them over the last few weeks. With Jalen Hurts manning the helm in Philly, the Eagles will look to maintain their physicality up front. If the Jets can stop their rushing attack, they can withstand the strongest punch Philadelphia has to offer.
Win Field Position Battle
As with any underdog, field position is critical for the Jets on Sunday. At times, it was the reason for their victory last week in Denver. Punter Thomas Morstead’s punt inside the 5-yard line set the Jets up with a safety on Russell Wilson to get them back in the game. From there, the Jets defense dominated.
In order for the Jets to beat Philadelphia, they need to put their defense in inoperatune situations while pinning one of the most dominant offenses in football deep.
Turning the ball over, or giving up big plays on special teams is a major problem for New York this week. Any chance the Eagles get on offense, they usually cash in. Playing mistake free football is paramount to winning this game.
Take Chances in Passing Game
Philadelphia may seem unbeatable at 5-0 and not playing their best ball, but there’s a weakness on the roster. With injuries piling up in the secondary, they are very susceptible to giving up big pass plays, particularly over the middle of the field.
The Eagles rank 25th against the pass this season. They are also at the bottom of the league in terms of red zone defense.
In short, if there’s a game for the Jets and quarterback Zach Wilson to be aggressive, it’s Sunday. Sure, Philadelphia’s run defense is stout and could mire some of the passing statistics (they have had two-score leads in every game in this year), but if New York is aggressive in the passing game, there will be plays to be successful.
X-Factor: Jordan Whitehead
New York is pretty set in their secondary to cause matchup nightmares for the Eagles offense. Sauce Gardner can take away DeVonta Smith or AJ Brown on the outside, and D.J. Reed is more than capable on the other. The real question is what happens with Dallas Goedert.
Often the forgotten man in a loaded offensive unit, Goedert is one of the most complete tight ends in football, and it coming off a massive game. The former second-round pick recorded eight catches for 117 yards and a score in Philadelphia’s 23-14 win over the Rams in Los Angeles on Sunday. He’s a matchup nightmare for most teams.
Luckily for the Jets, they can easily have a plan to take Goedert away and it all comes down to Jordan Whitehead. The former Buccaneer has had an excellent start to the season for Gang Green and has the athleticism to keep up with overpowering tight ends.
Another reason why Whitehead is so important is because the Jets will need to have a spy on Hurts at all times. Quincy Williams and C.J. Mosley could certainly be in consideration for those roles, but it’s not a very good matchup for either of them. Expect Whitehead to have a big game in order for the Jets to pull off the upset.