The season hangs in the balance for the Miami Dolphins versus the Jets today. Both teams share the same record at 5-6 and the key to the playoffs. Today's game not only serves as a must-win game for the Dolphins, but an opportunity to win on the road and quiet the naysayers about this team and their ability to win with their backs against the wall. The Dolphins have a chance to get back into the playoff hunt with a win versus the Jets and several other scenarios. In fact, the Dolphins must beat the Jets twice and then next week versus Pittsburgh. The Dolphins are 4-3 in conference play and can improve on that today.
As news trickled out of various sports news outlets last night that Jonathan Martin would not be playing for the Dolphins this season and would be placed on the NFI (Non-football Injury/Illness list) the Dolphins promoted an extra safety from the practice squad D.J. Campbell.
As if news couldn't get any worse for Miami in that it already has, the Dolphins will look to running back Marcus Thigpen to fill the spot left vacant after a season ending foot injury to running back Daniel Thomas.
For the Dolphins to win today, Lamar Miller will be the feature back and could see several more carries than he's accustomed to. It will be interesting how he handles his blocking duties on pass plays since blocking has been an issue for him in the past. For Miller, this is a true test of him proving himself worthy of being the starting running back this season and next season as well. Likewise, Ryan Tannehill will have to dig deep into his own bag of tricks and move the ball with his compliment of receivers: Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline, Charles Clay, and Rishard Matthews.
The Dolphins defense must force turnovers to the tune of interceptions and by getting pressure on Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith. Both Brent Grimes and Nolan Carroll could serve as a road block to Geno Smith's efforts who does force the ball into coverage and has 8 TD/18 INT. Smith has failed to throw a TD in his last 4 games.
The game will be played in partly cloudy skies with rays of sunshine and a crisp 46 degrees, but should stay dry with only a 20% chance of rain. As the game wears on and as usual, the winds whip in the stadium which can affect the kicking game for both teams. For the Dolphins, Caleb Sturgis needs to navigate the wind direction carefully and we might see Joe Philbin going for it since Sturgis hasn't nailed a long (more than 50 yards) kick since week 3.
On the other side, the Jets' Geno Smith is prepared to play the Dolphins defense. For the Jets to get on the roll, they must get the running game going with Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. Both runners are tough to bring down and could be the secret to success for the Jets. The running game for the Jets will allow Smith to just manage the game and not do to much, but he will take his shots down field when necessary and has Santonio Holmes at his disposal as a deep threat.
The game could come down to which team makes the final play, whether it is a final red zone play, a kick for the win, or a final stop, both teams are not new to final second heroics.
Score prediction: Dolphins 27 Jets 20.