Some teams with established veterans treat the preseason like the glorified practice that they are. Neither the New York Jets nor the Philadelphia Eagles fall in that category as they both may go full bore in Friday’s preseason opener.
The Jets were 4-13 a year ago, missing out on the playoffs for the 11th straight season in Robert Saleh’s first year at the helm.
The Eagles also had a rookie head coach last season, producing nicely with a 9-8 record and a postseason berth in Nick Sirianni’s first taste at the helm of an NFL team – although Philadelphia lost 31-15 to Tampa Bay in the wild-card game.
Wilson Under the Microscope
Playing QB in New York is tough unless your name is Eli Manning, and so far through one season in the NFL, the Jets’ Zach Wilson is known more for his mother’s Instagram posts than his prowess on the field. Wilson looks like a bust with too many extracurricular activities after completing just 55.6% of his passes in 2021 as the former #2 pick out of BYU.
Wilson needs every rep he can get, so he’ll get a heavy dose on Friday night which gives the Jets an edge considering he started 13 games a year ago. New York also wants to see what they have in rookie RB Breece Hall, who ran for 1,400+ yards the last two seasons at Iowa State with 41 rushing TDs over that span.
Behind Wilson the Jets have veteran Joe Flacco, who could tear up the Eagles’ 2nd and 3rd string defense depending on how much he plays. New York also took Garrett Wilson out of Ohio State with the 22nd pick in the draft, so he’ll have a bevy of plays designed for him.
Does Hurts Play Much?
Most people would concede that the Eagles’ 2022 results are predicated on how QB Jalen Hurts performs. He’s entering his third year after 15 starts a season ago, throwing for 3,144 yards with 16 TDS and 9 INTs a year ago. Hurts also had 784 yards and 10 TDs rushing, but you’d think Philadelphia coaches would prefer he doesn’t take any unnecessary hits in game one of the preseason.
Hurts has a new weapon this year in WR A.J. Brown, who came over from the Titans after averaging 8 TD catches and nearly 1,000 yards receiving in his first three years with Tennessee.
Brown will likely play on Friday night to get some reps with Hurts, and with former Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith on the other side of the field, the Eagles have one of the best WR combos in the league.
Jets at Eagles Pick and Prediction
It’s never a stretch to bet against the Jets, especially in the preseason and on the road. New York is a +1 point underdog on Friday night, and they could pull off a slight upset, all depending on how much Wilson has developed in the offseason.
Hall has potential in the backfield, and Flacco could absolutely tear up the Philadelphia backups if he plays. Flacco could even be playing for a possible starting role in this preseason.
Behind Hurts, it’s Gardner Minshew, who went 1-1 in backup duty last season and has 27 starts on his NFL resume. It’s just the preseason, but Minshew Mania gives Philly the edge here.
Pick: Eagles -1