Miami Dolphins (8-5) @ New York Jets (4-9)
Saturday December 17, 8:25 EST – Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
Betting Line: Dolphins -2.5
The Dolphins haven’t swept the Jets since 2009. That year, Ted Ginn provided one of his few contributions to the team with the bomb over Darrelle Revis in the home tilt, and the two kickoff returns to the house in Jersey.
A sweep of the Jets in 2016 would put the Dolphins on the doorstep of the post-season. Missing out on the tournament would be a sour note to end an otherwise exciting and surprising campaign for rookie head coach, Adam Gase.
Getting into the final 12 of the NFL’s season was already likely to draw some consideration for coach of the year honors. Now, without his starting quarterback, doing so should put him in the top three of the conversation for that award.
The news of Ryan Tannehill’s ACL not suffering a tear reverberated around Dolphins nation Monday morning. It was the type of unexpected news rivaled by November’s presidential election. Obviously, miniscule in size by comparison, but the surprise element somewhat equal.
Typically, the MRI reveals information that confirms grim news or even presents an even worse injury.
Thankfully, Ryan Tannehill has the potential to return should this team get its way into the post-season. From that point, Dolphins fans cross their fingers that this is their chance at a story book ending. Our chance to have our Brady in for Bledsoe or Prescott in for Romo moment.
Those hopes truly are pipe dreams. But, to quote the last Dolphins coach that swept these New York Jets (and every other uninspiring motivational speech), “Why not us?”
The path to playoffs is quite clear for Miami. Win two of the final three and hope Denver loses two of its final three and the Dolphins are playing in January.
Dolphins Offense vs. Jets Defense:
Before you watch this game, just know that the game plan is going to be scaled back – which is interesting considering Gase already reigned it back in after the 1-4 start. If the Dolphins don’t turn the ball over, they will get out of New York with a win.
Jay Ajayi should get a heavy dose of touches but I have to imagine Kenyan Drake and possibly Damien Williams taking on more expanded roles. I have been calling for Drake to get more action and his one or two hard runs every week just solidifies that idea.
The strength of the Jets is up front. Muhammed Wilkerson and his contract were a major talking point this off-season. He got paid and now that the Jets season has crashed and burned, his effort level is being brought into question. The same could be said about Sheldon Richardson.
The one guy that can truly wreck this game is Leonard Williams. In the first meeting, he made life hell for the Dolphins guards lining up all over the line and rushing the gaps occupied by Tunsil, Pouncey and Bushrod.
It’s time for Anthony Steen to grow up a little over the rest of this season and get his shit together. Between Williams and Steven McClendon (who did not participate in practice Wednesday or Thursday) could make this a very boring game.
Rookie linebacker Matt Catapano was destroyed by Damien Williams on a wheel route in the first contest and this should be a player the Dolphins expose on Saturday. He is dealing with an injury, but whoever fills in for him should be viewed in the same way.
Fellow rookie linebacker, Jordan Jenkins, has his own liabilities in coverage as well.
The Jets secondary will allow some big plays as well. Buster Skrine and Darrelle have been as bad as any corner duo in the league this year. Skrine isn’t likely to play so Justin Burris figures to fill in.
Pretty much any match-up in the secondary benefits the Dolphins. If they find one-on-one coverage that will be when the shot plays come from Adam Gase’s offense. Matt Moore will let it rip and if the Dolphins can provide some protection, I like Devante Parker and Kenny Stills getting deep on this defense.
Dolphins Defense vs. Jets Offense:
Bryce Petty doesn’t belong in this league. He’s a far from a competent quarterback that is just trying to get by with vanilla concepts, basic reads and simple throws. He did uncork a nice one to rookie standout Robbie Anderson last week, but a disciplined and ferocious Dolphins defense will give him fits all game.
His offensive line is going to be a problem as well. Breno Giacomini got his ass kicked by Cam Wake in the first meeting but he too is out with an injury. Brent Qvale will fill in and between him and Ben Ijilana, the Dolphins edge rushers are going to feast.
Nick Mangold is out for the year and the Jets don’t have a viable replacement. Ndamukong Suh could see some more one-on-one opportunities with the tight ends and backs helping deal with Wake and Andre Branch on the edges.
The one player the Dolphins need to concern themselves with is Bilal Powell. He had 29 carries for 145 yards last week against a very poor tackling San Francisco team. If the Dolphins wrap up, he won’t hurt them. But if they get lazy in their technique, he can power through tackles like Jay Ajayi.
The 29 carries coming into a short week could be a concern, though. We will see how Powell’s body recovers, but I’m betting he’s energized to finally get his chance to play over the injured Matt Forte.
The Jets are banged up on this side of the ball. I mentioned the Mangold, Giacomini and Forte injuries, they’re obviously without Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall has a trio of injuries that could hold him out of an irrelevant game.
Everything in this game points to Miami. I don’t care about the backup quarterback – good teams overcome that type of adversity in this spot.
The Jets have completely mailed in the season. They couldn’t even sell tickets for one dollar on a Monday night against the Colts. I haven’t seen a team show less effort than the Jets did that night all season.
I get that this is a division rival and they could spoil our season, but how much of that REALLY matters to guys like Muhammed Wilkerson, Bryce Petty and the other young guys that don’t really know this as much of a rivalry?
The Jets always get up for the Patriots so there’s a slight possibility they’re more excited about that contest.
The Dolphins were hot trash after Ryan Tannehill left Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. But the winning field goal, the news that he could return if they make the playoffs, I think these are all things that will energize this team.
There’s no excuse to lose to the Jets. And when the Broncos lose to the Patriots, the Dolphins will have playoff clinching scenarios in week 16.
Follow me on Twitter @Travis_Writes