I like Bryce Petty. A lot. But at this point, the Jets‘ second-year man is not as experienced as veteran Miami backup Matt Moore, and the Dolphins have much to play for this week. They’re currently the seventh seed in the AFC — or, in other words, the best team on the outside of the playoff picture. And even that position is tenuous, to say the least. No less than the Broncos (who currently project as the final wild-card team), Ravens and Titans are eyeing that last spot. Thus, a win in New York is very much needed.
Hard to believe, but Miami has won seven of eight games. Obviously, Moore stepping in for the injured Ryan Tannehill presents an interesting twist to the back end of the season, but given that the Jets are allowing more yards per game (355.5) than they have in any season since 1989, I think the QB2 will find a few openings to exploit. #MIAvsNYJ
Miami Dolphins (8-5) at New York Jets (4-9)
SERIES HISTORY: 102nd regular-season meeting. New York leads, 53-47-1. Miami won the last meeting, 27-23, on Nov. 6 when Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD with 5:15 left in the game. RB Jay Ajayi rushed for 111 yards against the NFL’s No. 1 rushing defense. The victory was the third for Miami in a six-game winning streak.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
This AFC East rivalry will feature a battle between Jets QB Bryce Petty and Dolphins QB Matt Moore.
Moore is starting in place of Ryan Tannehill, who sprained his left MCL and ACL and will be sideline for a period of time yet to be determined. Petty, a second-year veteran, is starting because veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched, Geno Smith went out with a knee injury and rookie Christian Hackenberg, a second-round draftee, isn’t getting a sniff.
This game should feature dueling RBs Matt Forte of the Jets and Jay Ajayi of the Dolphins, but Forte (knee) did not practice Wednesday and will be a game-time decision. Forte was injured in the first quarter of Sunday’s 23-17 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. An MRI Monday revealed a torn meniscus. Coach Todd Bowles said Forte likely will be a game-time decision on Saturday night.
With Forte out last week, RB Bilal Powell had a career game, scoring two TDs, including the 19-yard game-winner in OT.
Moore is an eight-year veteran making his first start since 2011. On Tuesday, the Dolphins signed T.J. Yates, who was Houston’s 2011 fifth-round pick. Yates led the Texans to their first playoff victory as a rookie but had been out of football since injuring his knee in December 2015 while playing for Houston. Yates said he worked out for Denver and New England this year.
Whoever plays QB for Miami will do so without center Mike Pouncey, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve list Tuesday (hip). The three-time Pro Bowl player managed five games this year and has had three hip surgeries since 2014.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
–Jets WR Brandon Marshall vs. Dolphins CB Byron Maxwell. Maxwell shadowed Marshall when these teams played in November and held him to five receptions for 46 yards. This was after Marshall yapped all week about how Maxwell held him on almost every play when they faced each other in 2015 when Marshall was with Philadelphia. Prior to that, Marshall had crushed the Dolphins with 128 and 131 receiving yards in their 2015 games. It’ll be interesting to see whether Maxwell shadows Marshall, or whether Marshall pops off in the days before the game.
–Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi vs. Jets ILB Darron Lee. Lee showed some budding leadership skills by taking the blame Sunday for San Francisco 49ers RB Carlos Hyde’s monster game (193 yards). He’ll get a quick chance at redemption Saturday as the second line of defense against Ajayi, who had back-to-back 200-yard rushing games earlier this season. Ajayi has rushed for fewer than 100 yards in five straight games but should be fed the ball plenty with backup QB Matt Moore making his first start in almost five years.
FRIDAY TEAM REPORT:
–Out: QB Ryan Tannehill (knee)
–Questionable: S Isa Abdul-Quddus (neck), T Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring, hand), T Jermon Bushrod (shoulder), LB Jelani Jenkins (knee, hand), CB Bobby McCain (hand), LB Spencer Paysinger (thigh), G Anthony Steen (toe), DE Mario Williams (ankle)
NEW YORK JETS
–Out: LB Mike Catapano (knee), LB Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle), DT Steve McLendon (hamstring), CB Buster Skrine (concussion)
–Doubtful: T Brent Qvale (hamstring), RB Khiry Robinson (lower leg)
–Questionable: TE Brandon Bostick (ankle), WR Quincy Enunwa (ribs), RB Matt Forte (knee), WR Brandon Marshall (knee, foot, back), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle)
Jets S Rontez Miles. The long-time practice squad member and favorite of the coaching staff established himself as a player this season by becoming a core special-teamer and valuable backup in the secondary. Now with FS Marcus Gilchrist out for the year with a torn patellar tendon, Miles gets a chance to prove he can be an every-down player. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said Miles will start this week. Given the severity of Gilchrist’s injury, a solid performance by Miles could establish him as the starter going into next season.
Dolphins QB Matt Moore led the team on a game-winning drive in relief last week.
Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi had 111 rushing yards and a touchdown in the last meeting. He has 839 yards rushing and five TDs in his last eight games and ranks fourth in the NFL at 4.95 yards per carry.
Miami DT Ndamukong Suh has 57 tackles and five sacks and is nine tackles shy of his career-best 66 as a rookie in 2010.
Jets QB Bryce Petty passed for 257 yards last week.
Jets WR Brandon Marshall has 305 yards receiving and two TD catches in the past three meetings. Since entering the league in 2006, he ranks second with 938 catches and 12,017 yards receiving.
The Jets have a minus-16 turnover differential — second-worst in the NFL (Jacksonville is minus-17). New York already has turned the ball over more times this season (26) than it did in 2015 (24). Despite Miami’s change at quarterback, the Jets will not get a grip on victory in this game.
OUR PICK: Dolphins, 28-17.
My pick: Jets: 20-16
Dolphins’ luck runs out, Petty and Moore are a push, Jets D has young hungrier players, playing for next season. Big game from Jenkins, as he will be in Moore’s face all night