Editor’s note: Steve Fini breaks down five players who will decide today’s Eagles-Jets showdown.
Mark Sanchez (QB/Jets) - Sanchez is like most of the quarterbacks the Eagles have faced this season. He’s solid, can make a play or two, but is turnover prone and his coaches don’t trust him enough to win them the game. Luckily for New York, the Eagles have made these types of quarterbacks look outstanding this season. Sanchez is a fraud of a starter and his head coach, Rex Ryan, does a better job of expressing his confidence in Sanchez to the media than he does on game day. If the Eagles can force him to throw the football in big spots, Philly should be in good shape.
Plaxico Burress (WR/Jets) - Burress has had some games this year where he’s really stood out and shown the ability he used to have before he went to jail. In other games he’s been non-existent and hardly on the field. I think today’s going to be one of those games where he shows up. He’s been deadly against the Eagles in the past and the Jets coaches will want to make sure it continues. The Eagles defense has also struggled in the redzone, which is Burress’ specialty. Getting him one-on-one with an Eagles corner should be an easy touchdown for New York all day.
Dustin Keller (TE/Jets) - I’m sticking with the Jets offense for these players to watch because thats really where the Eagles have an advantage. However, the Jets do have weapons so it’s important that they keep Mark Sanchez playing like Mark Sanchez and don’t allow him to break out. One of those weapons that could help him break out is Dustin Keller. I really believe Keller, on a better team and with a better quarterback, could be a premier tight end in this league. He’s big, strong, and extremely fast for a player his size. Since the Jets are a run first team he stays in to block more than he should but, when he gets a matchup in his favor he can win it almost every time. The Eagles’ struggles against tight ends are obvious every week. They need to keep an eye on Keller because he can easily have a big game against the lesser competition the Eagles will throw at him.
Nnamdi Asomugha (CB/Eagles) - Do you think Rex Ryan has been waiting for this matchup all year long? I’d say so. Don’t kid yourself, Ryan tries to make statements in every game his team plays and isn’t there just to get a win. In this game he’s going to try and prove that he has the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis. I fully expect the Jets to attack Asomugha and try to exploit him any chance they get. Can the Jets receivers do it? The way Asomugha has played this season I’d say so. But maybe THIS will finally be the game that he steps up and proves himself to be an elite player.
Michael Vick (QB/Eagles) - Perhaps the Eagles could prove that Revis and fellow Jets corner Antonio Cromartie are the more over-hyped corner tandem in the league. That all starts with Vick. He took a lot of big hits last week. He has taken a ton of them all year. The Jets are the last team in the league you want to face when your quarterback is banged up. They blitz a lot and will take personal fouls just to get a little extra pounding on the opposing quarterback. Vick has to get the ball out quick and receivers Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have to use their athletic ability to get open. Maclin against Cromartie will be tough since their physically very similar. But Revis against Jackson should be fun to watch. Revis is fast, but he doesn’t have Jackson’s speed or burst. He’s also physical and can throw Jackson around. Still, if he misses on a press, Jackson is going to get him deep. Exploit the Jets best player and shut Rex Ryan and the rest of his goons up.