When the schedule came out, this was supposed to be a late-season battle of Super Bowl contenders hoping to satiate long-suffering, green-clad fans who have mastered the art of spelling out their teams' names in unison.

Instead, the Eagles have been out of serious playoff contention for weeks and could be officially eliminated by the end of the weekend, even with a win.

The Jets remain in the race, but sit on the playoff bubble. Their 8-5 record is good for the last wild-card spot in the AFC.

In what will be a clash of styles, the Eagles' pass-first offense and sack-happy defense face the Jets' "ground and pound" running game and a defense whose strength lies in coverage, not blitzing.

The Eagles are coming off their most impressive defensive performance of the year, but they have won consecutive games only once all season, and that was with the benefit of a bye between victories.

The Jets have won six of eight, with all their wins in that stretch coming over losing teams. The Eagles fall into that category, too.

Still, if the Eagles want to spread the misery, a win over the Jets could mean that even if they're eliminated, they won't be the only Super Bowl hopeful stuck home in January.

When the Eagles pass

Michael Vick was back, but the Eagles offense didn't look much better last week in Miami. The unit's 24 points were due to a big helping hand from the defense, which set up each score with a turnover. Vick was shaky and inaccurate. With Jeremy Maclin out or limited for four weeks, Brent Celek has become the team's leading receiver, and DeSean Jackson finally got back into the end zone.

The Jets pass rush isn't what it once was, but their coverage is excellent. With all-everything cornerback Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie taking on receivers, the Jets rank sixth against the pass. They lost safety Jim Leonhard last week, though, so they may be vulnerable at the back end.

Edge: JETS

When the Eagles run

LeSean McCoy was limited to just 38 yards last week, but the back remains one of the top rushers in the NFL and the Eagles' most consistent threat. The Jets are allowing 109.2 yards per game on the ground (14th in the league), though they have improved in the second half of the season. One key matchup will be center Jason Kelce against 325-pound nose tackle Sione Pouha.


When the Jets pass

No quarterback will be comfortable against the kind of pressure the Eagles brought last week, when they hit the Dolphins for nine sacks. But the Jets offensive line, with Pro Bowlers at center and left tackle, presents a tougher matchup. Quarterback Mark Sanchez is wildly inconsistent, but he has seven touchdowns and one interception in his last three games. The Jets rank just 21st in passing yards, but receivers Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress have seven touchdowns apiece and will be a handful for an up-and-down Eagles secondary.

Edge: EVEN

When the Jets run

The Eagles have allowed more than 100 yards on the ground each of the last three weeks and nine of 13 games this year. South Jersey native Shonn Greene has been on a roll for the Jets the last three games, putting up 78, 88, and 129 yards. Sanchez has added five rushing touchdowns. Eagles tacklers have to wrap up the burly Greene better than they did Marshawn Lynch two weeks ago.

Edge: JETS

Special teams

The Eagles' kick coverage has been among the best in the league, but the Jets' Joe McKnight leads the NFL in return average. The Eagles could miss special-teams ace Colt Anderson. The Birds' return game has not produced.

Edge: JETS


Andy Reid has historically been at his best in December - but many positives have turned against him this season. The Jets have made a habit of rallying late in the year under Rex Ryan, and seem to be following the same path this season. They need to win to keep hold of their playoff destiny.

Edge: JETS