Game: New York Jets (3-10) at Miami Dolphins (6-7)
Date/Time/TV: Dec. 19, 2021 / 1:00 PM ET / CBS
Location: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
SB Nation: Gang Green Nation | @GangGreenNation
The Dolphins enter this game off a bye week, still hot on a 5-game winning streak. A win would keep Miami’s playoff hopes alive, with multiple wildcard spots still up for grabs in the AFC.
Meanwhile, the Jets come into this game with their season essentially over, off the back of a 30-6 loss to the Saints in Week 14. However, New York could easily throw a wrench in Miami’s playoff hopes with a win this week, and the prospect of spoiling the Dolphins’ season is sure to entice Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh and his players.
Who’s Got The Edge?
QB - Dolphins. Look, Zach Wilson has talent, there’s no question about it. As much as it pains me to admit, I’ve seen him make throws other quarterbacks simply can’t make. But the kid makes some really mind-boggling decisions at times, and you just can’t ignore that. Sure, Tua has his own fair share of mental errors, as do almost all young quarterbacks. However, whereas Tua usually makes up for his errors with elite accuracy (70.9%, 2nd best in the league) and efficiency, Wilson doesn’t. So, until Wilson starts making major improvements in his game in terms of decision-making and game-management, this isn’t a debate.
RB - Jets. While Dolphins’ running-back Myles Gaskin has the most rushing yards (526) across both teams, the Jets actually have more total rushing yards as a team (1,094) than the Dolphins (1,030). The Jets’ leading rusher, Michael Carter, is also averaging a full 0.5 more rushing yards per attempt than Gaskin. While Miami may have more talented runners in Gaskin and Lindsay, they’re not really showing that talent on the field. Thus, as a unit, I’d have to give the edge to New York.
WR - Dolphins. When healthy, Miami boasts one of the better receiving rooms in the league. Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, and Will Fuller highlight a fairly strong group, although they’ve each battled multiple injuries all season. Regardless, the Jets don’t really have a true #1 wide-receiver, while the Dolphins (arguably) have two in Parker and Waddle. In fact, Waddle has established himself as one of the league’s best receivers this season, ranking 5th in receptions (86) in the NFL. Jets’ rookie receiver Elijah Moore is also a good player in his own right, but nowhere close to a true #1 wideout. By some distance, Miami takes the edge here.
TE - Dolphins. Mike Gesicki is quickly becoming one of the league’s best tight-ends, as he ranks 4th among all TEs in receptions (59) and 5th in total yards (642). Meanwhile, Jets TE Ryan Griffin only has 25 catches all season. There’s not much else to say here, this one isn’t remotely close.
OL - Jets. Miami’s offensive line is comfortably the worst in the league, it’s as simple as that. According to Pro Football Focus, the Dolphins’ offensive line ranks 32nd in the league as a unit. Miami is allowing the highest pressure rate in the league (45.3%), despite an offense literally designed to get rid of the ball quickly through RPOs and short passes. In terms of total pressures allowed, Miami has three of the NFL’s 10 worst offensive linemen this season (Austin Jackson, Jesse Davis, and Liam Eichenberg). In fact, no lineman on the roster even has an overall PFF grade higher than 65.0, with Robert Hunt ranking the highest at 63.0.
The Jets’ offensive line is actually well above average, with a pass-block win rate of 61%, enough for 13th best in the league. Perhaps more impressive though, is that they’re achieving these numbers even after losing star 2nd-year tackle Mekhi Becton to injury in Week 1 this season. The Jets don’t have much going for them this year, but their offensive line is certainly one of their brighter spots.
Defense - Dolphins. Brian Flores is one of the league’s best defensive minds, and Miami has become a formidable unit over the last few years. The Dolphins sit at 11th in points allowed, and rank Top-10 in both interceptions and forced-fumbles. With star players such as Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland, and Jaelen Phillips, Miami’s defense is one of the top units in the league.
Like Brian Flores, Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh also comes from a defensive background, but has yet to make any improvements in New York so far. The Jets’ defense ranks 32nd in the NFL in both points allowed and yards allowed. They also have the 2nd-least amount of takeaways in the NFL, with only 9 across 13 games. The Jets do have some talented players in defensive-tackle Quinnen Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley, but they simply haven’t been able to put it all together. As a result, Miami’s defense is the clear winner here.
Special Teams - Dolphins. Miami has had great success in the punting game this year, with Dolphins’ punter Michael Palardy landing 24 punts inside the 20-yard line, enough for 4th best in the NFL. And while Dolphins’ kicker Jason Sanders has slightly regressed since last season, he’s still made 17 of 23 field goals this year, a far better record than anyone on the Jets. In fact, the Jets have already cut 2 different kickers this year, which really highlights the struggles they’ve had at the kicking position. So, although neither team has had particularly amazing success on special teams this year, Miami definitely has the better unit overall.
Let’s get one thing straight, the Dolphins are heavy favorites on Sunday, and for good reason. Miami scores more points, allows less points, has the better defense, and the better skill players.
However, if there’s a weak point to be attacked, it’s the Dolphins’ offensive line. In recent weeks, offensive-coordinator George Godsey has done a good job designing plays that hide this weakness, by implementing the Run-Pass-Option and “freezing” defenders in their tracks. As a result, Tua is able to get rid of the ball extremely quickly, eliminating any potential problems on the offensive line before they even occur.
So, to win this game, Miami simply needs to keep doing what they’ve been doing in the past few weeks: establish the RPO, get rid of the ball quickly on offense, and don’t allow the offensive line to become an issue in the first place.
In all honesty, the only way I can see the Jets winning on Sunday is if Miami literally hands the game to New York. The Jets aren’t good enough to beat the Dolphins when both teams are at their best, and Flores knows it. Play our game, and the Dolphins will be absolutely fine.
So, what are your predictions for Sunday’s game vs. the Jets? Will the Dolphins extend their winning streak to 6 games, or will the Jets get to play spoiler in Miami? Leave your predictions in the comments below!