Jets-Eagles Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 14, 2011
The New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles haven't lived up to lofty expectations this year. While a three-game winning streak has the Jets headed in the right direction, the Eagles are clinging to very slim playoff hopes. With major playoff implications on the line, the Jets go for their first-ever win over the Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. New York (8-5) and Philadelphia (5-8) were expected to be - at the very least - serious contenders to win their respective divisions heading into this season. That hasn't been the case, as the Jets enter their final three games of the regular season two games back of AFC East-leading New England while surrendering the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Eagles were dubbed the "Dream Team" by backup quarterback Vince Young prior to the start of the season, and they've turned into perhaps the NFL's biggest disappointment. They're two games back of the first-place tie between Dallas and the New York Giants in the NFC East, and are outsiders for a wild card. "It's exciting. We've got three games left and it's up for grabs," coach Andy Reid said. "I'd say that's a good thing." Reid's enthusiasm may take a dramatic turn Sunday if his team loses, which would eliminate Philadelphia from playoff contention. The Jets, meanwhile, have rebounded from back-to-back losses with three straight wins over lesser opponents. New York continued its momentum with a 37-10 rout of Kansas City last week. It was the team's best offensive showing of the season, topping the previous week's 34-19 victory at Washington. The Jets are still 25th in total offense, but have produced 13 touchdowns over the last three weeks. They've scored TDs in each of their last 12 trips into the red zone - their best streak since 1993. "I think we're all just playing a lot better across the board," said quarterback Mark Sanchez, who had a season-high 121.3 rating against the Chiefs and has thrown seven TDs with one interception in three games. "I think hopefully we're just starting to hit our stride, and we're not there yet." Shonn Greene is getting there, rushing for 295 yards on 59 attempts over the last three games, scoring four touchdowns in the last two. The Jets have lost all eight meetings - four on the road - against the Eagles, and haven't visited Philadelphia since Oct. 26, 2003. "This time of year, it doesn't matter where you play, you better go win," coach Rex Ryan said. "This is going to be a big challenge. I know the Jets' history; 0-8 against the Eagles. "Obviously, they're an excellent football team and we know it's going to be a big challenge. We got three games left that are going to be tough, but we're confident." While Sanchez and New York's offense are gaining momentum, the Eagles' defense is looking to build on its best performance of the season. The unit collected nine sacks and forced three turnovers while allowing a season-low 204 yards - 95 passing - in a 26-10 win at Miami last week. Philadelphia needs to beat the Jets, Dallas and Washington in the final three weeks and get outside help to have any chance at the playoffs. The Eagles, 1-5 at Lincoln Financial Field, haven't lost six regular-season home games in a single season since 1983. "We have a chance. It does matter," tight end Brent Celek said. "That's all you can ask for after the position we left ourselves in. We just have to capitalize on every opportunity we have." Michael Vick is expected to start after making his return from broken ribs, which forced him to miss three games. He completed 15 of 30 passes for 208 yards with one touchdown and one INT last week, but was sacked four times and hit hard on several occasions. "Just having his presence in the huddle, it changes everything," running back LeSean McCoy said. "There are plays that should be called dead or be stopped, and instead you have Vick running around making plays down the field, so it's good to have him back." McCoy is on the cusp of tying an Eagles record after getting two touchdowns last week despite being held to 38 yards on 27 carries. His 17 total TDs this season are one behind the franchise record set by Steve Van Buren in 1945. McCoy, though, is facing a Jets defense that is allowing an average of 83.7 yards on the ground during the three-game winning streak. Running the ball effectively could be a huge key for the Eagles, who will be facing the league's sixth-best passing defense and two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis. Revis will likely match up against DeSean Jackson, a deep threat with 21 TDs of at least 30 yards in his four-year career. His 34-yard touchdown grab last week was just his third of the season and ended a six-game drought. The Eagles were hoping to have a similar situation when they beat out the Jets to sign Nnamdi Asomugha last summer, adding him to a secondary that includes Asante Samuel and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. They're yielding 255.8 passing yards at home, and Ryan feels Revis isn't only better, but the best in the NFL. "He is a tremendous corner, the best corner in football. It's not even close," Ryan said of Revis. "Nnamdi is an outstanding corner. Samuel is an outstanding corner. They have a lot of talented guys over there, but there's only one Darrelle Revis."
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