JEFF MCLANE Record, 5-8
The Jets are by no means unbeatable. Take away Tony Romo's collapse, a late tipped pass from Philip Rivers and Stevie Johnson's drop of a sure touchdown and New York is 5-8 and not 8-5. But you can't erase those moments, of course, just as the Eagles can't delete Jeremy Maclin's drop, Alex Henery's fourth quarter misses and Nnamdi Asomugha's neutral zone infraction. The Eagles are 5-8 and the Jets their opposite for good reason. New York could have packed it in at 5-5, but they won three in a row and are still in the playoff hunt. The Eagles did the el foldo weeks back. Wins over the Giants and the Dolphins were a case of too little, too late.
While the Jets still have a Wild Card berth to fight for, the Eagles have only wild playoffs hopes to cling to. There's a strong chance that they'll be out of the NFC East mix by the time they kick it off at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday. Even if the Cowboys or Giants or both lose by then, giving the Eagles more incentive, I'm not sure it'll matter.
Here's why: Michael Vick is not playing the quarterback position well at this point and he's still not 100 percent healthy. His footwork and drops were atrocious last week. He just wasn't comfortable in the pocket. Some of that had to do with him missing so much time. Some of it had to do with line play. But a great deal was just Vick. He needs all the reps he can get at this point and not practicing Wednesday isn't going to help his or the Eagles' cause against New York.
The other reason why I see an Eagles loss is Jets running back Shonn Greene. He's playing perhaps his best football these last three weeks and when has the Eagles defense stopped a better than average tailback this season? They haven't, unless you want to say they kept Beanie Wells in check. Michael Turner, Frank Gore, Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson, DeMarco Murray, Stephen Jackson, Reggie Bush -- the list is long. Greene will be added in a few days. Jets, 23-17.
What goes right: DeSean Jackson burns Darrelle Revis for a long touchdown.
What goes wrong: Mark Sanchez's red zone magic continues with another TD pass to Plaxico Burress, reminding the Eagles that they signed the wrong ex-Giants receiver.
If there were playoffs for sports predictions, I’d have been mathematically eliminated long ago, or at least relegated to picking the winner of the Beef O’ Brady Bowl. As it stands, I’m still here calling these games, and the Eagles are still technically alive for a playoff spot. Technically.
But at 5-8, there’s not much reason for hope for the Birds while the 8-5 Jets, also disappointing this year, still have a Wild Card in their sights. Each team likes to beat up on weaker foes. The Eagles have only beaten two teams with winning records (the Cowboys and Giants) while the Jets have just one such victory (also over the Cowboys, week 1).
The Jets have rallied late in the season each year under Rex Ryan and appear to be following that same pattern this year. Running back Shonn Greene isn’t in Marshawn Lynch’s class, but he is a big, powerful runner who will challenge the Eagles to tackle better than they did against Seattle’s bruiser two weeks ago. The Eagles showed some pride last week against Miami, turning in their best defensive performance of the year. The problem is the offense was stagnant, scoring mostly because the defense gave them great field position. I’m still concerned about Mike Vick’s health and ability to move his team. His last two performances have been awfully shaky.
In the end, I’m guessing the running games of each team prove to be their best weapons, which plays to the Jets’ style. Of course, my guesses have been pretty awful, so maybe Eagles fans should consider this an early holiday present: I’m taking the Jets. Jets: 24-20.
What goes right: The Eagles pass rush continues to feast and makes life hard on quarterback Mark Sanchez.
What goes wrong: The Jets’ cornerback tandem causes trouble for the Eagles passing game and takes away Andy Reid’s favorite toy.