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During the season, Bent's Game Analysis charts games for some of the Jets' upcoming opponents, enabling a breakdown of what to watch out for on gameday…
The Jets host the Dolphins on Saturday with a chance to play spoiler. The 8-5 Dolphins have won seven of their last eight to leap into the postseason mix. Back in November, the Jets took a late lead in Miami and it looked like both teams were headed for a 4-5 record. However, one special teams breakdown cost the Jets the game and the teams have since seen their fortunes headed in different directions. That was a major turning point in Miami's season, but there was another last week: losing starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill to injury.
Let's break down the positional groupings (BGA-style!) for the Dolphins to try and highlight what to watch out for.
Matt Moore has been one of the highest paid backups in the NFL over the past several seasons despite barely seeing any action. The Dolphins obviously made that commitment for exactly this type of situation, so now it falls on Moore to try and keep their postseason hopes alive.
His performance last week was a classic relief performance as he only threw five passes, but that was enough for the Dolphins to hold off Arizona and get the win on a late field goal. However, it will be interesting to see how he fares in the full-time role.
Moore hasn't thrown more than six passes in a game since midway through the 2012 season as he relieved an injured Tannehill and threw for 131 yards and a touchdown to polish off a blowout win over the Jets. His last start was also against the Jets, in the last game of the 2011 season. Moore threw two interceptions, but the Dolphins were able to hold on for a 19-17 win in a meaningless game most memorable for Wayne Hunter and Santonio Holmes arguing in the huddle. Moore was 6-6 as a starter in 2011, losing his first three, winning the next three and then alternating losses and wins in the last six.
The team signed veteran T.J. Yates to back Moore up earlier this week. He's actually seen more action than Moore in recent seasons, including in the postseason with Houston.
Miami has also taken a hit on the offensive line, losing a key starter in Pro Bowler Mike Pouncey. After missing the last couple of games with a hip issue, Pouncey was eventually shut down and placed on injured reserve this week. In his place, the inexperienced Anthony Steen, a first-year starter, has been struggling in the running game. He had two penalties against the Cardinals.
Left tackle Branden Albert is their next most important lineman. Miami was actually 4-0 when both Albert and Pouncey were in the lineup this year. Albert has been banged up, though, and hasn't played to his usual standard.
Rookie Laremy Tunsil continues to show promise, but lacks consistency. (It probably hasn't helped that he's moved backward and forward between guard and tackle over the course of the season.) After moving back to guard for the Ravens game two weeks ago, he committed three penalties in his roughest game of the year.
By contrast, another former first-round pick, Ja'Wuan James, is probably playing the best football of his career, impacting in the running game at right tackle. He's been Miami's most dependable lineman this year with the durability issues of their more established veterans. James has had seven penalties in the last eight games though.
At right guard, Jermon Bushrod, 32, is grading out as one of the worst guards in the NFL, so the Jets should have an advantage on the interior with Steen in between him and the rookie Tunsil.
Veterans Sam Young and Kraig Urbik provide depth off the bench.
Jay Ajayi is Miami's big breakout star this year and he figures to surpass the 1,000-yard mark this week. However, he hasn't had as much success when the offensive line hasn't been at full strength. Last time these teams met, Ajayi was going for a record third straight 200-yard game, but the Jets "limitedd" him to 111 yards. Since, however, he doesn't have a 100-yard game and is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry.
The backup is Damien Williams, who gets a lot of touches around the goal line. He has six total touchdowns, including three on pass receptions.
Third-stringer Keynan Drake has also been getting some occasional touches since his kickoff return beat the Jets in the first meeting.
Jarvis Landry is another player who could surpass 1,000 yards on the season. As ever, the Jets will need to be wary of Landry's abilities to generate yards after the catch.
DeVante Parker is having a solid second season with 46 catches for almost 600 yards. He had his second 100-yard game of the season against the Chargers last month. Veteran Kenny Stills leads the team with six touchdown catches and a 17.6 yards-per-catch average.
Off the bench, rookie Leonte Carroo had his first NFL touchdown a couple of games ago against the 49ers, but he only played one snap last week.
Miami's top two tight ends were out when these teams met in November, but Dion Sims is back while Jordan Carmeron was placed on injured reserve. With Sims and Cameron out, Dominique Jones caught three passes for 42 yards and a touchdown in the Jets game, but he only has 19 yards on four catches otherwise.
Miami's defensive line is still the team's strength that provides a much sturdier test for the Jets' patched-together line than the 49ers did last week. As ever, veteran leadership has come from Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake. Wake leads the team with 9.5 sacks while Suh has five sacks and has been outstanding as usual against the run.
Miami signed Mario Williams to replace Olivier Vernon at defensive end and, while he hasn't been generating much statistical production (13 tackles, 1.5 sacks) he's been a solid presence. Williams has been limited in practice, so Andre Branch, who has 5.5 sacks this season, might continue to see more time. Jason Jones provides depth off the bench.
Earl Mitchell and Jordan Phillips split the reps pretty evenly on the inside with Suh, who typically plays about 80 percent of the time. They are mostly employed as space stuffers against the run.
Miami already placed Koa Misi on injured reserve and though fellow starters Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins have been limited this week in practice after missing last week's game, it appears likely that one or both of them will return this week. Alonso leads the team with 97 tackles, but the athletic Jenkins has had a disappointing year and can be exploited in coverage.
With those three out, Mike Hull, an undrafted free agent signing from last year, got his first NFL start last week with former Giant Spencer Paysinger alongside him. Another 2015 undrafted free agent signing, Neville Hewitt, has been in the rotation for most of the year with four starts. Veteran Donald Butler has also seen regular action and has done a decent job in coverage.
Brandon Marshall has continued his ongoing feud with Miami's No. 1 cornerback Byron Maxwell, who he says should be flagged a lot more often when the two are matched up. That promises to be a fun sideshow in an otherwise meaningless game from the Jets' standpoint.
Maxwell has had a good season, but the other listed starter, rookie Xavien Howard, has been out for several weeks due to injuries. Tony Lippett has been starting in his place and has done quite well, although he's given up 13 catches on 13 targets, including two scores, over the past two games.
Howard has been back at practice and may be ready to resume his starting role. Bobby McCain has received plenty of reps with Howard out and should still contribute in the slot.
At safety, former Detroit Lion Isa Abdul-Quddus is the main leader after Reshad Jones landed on injured reserve. Michael Thomas is still listed as the other starter, but Bacarri Rambo actually started the last three games.
Kicker Andrew Franks had a poor start to the year, but has settled down since. He missed a field goal against the Ravens two weeks ago, but that was his only miss since Week 6. Punter Matt Darr has had a pretty poor year, with a net average below 40 yards for the second straight season. He's only had a net average better than 40 in two of the last eight games. Long snapper John Denney, a two-time Pro Bowler, has had a few uncharacteristically bad snaps this year.
Although Drake's return touchdown won the last meeting between these teams, he was only back there because Jakeem Grant had expended so much energy on the previous, negated, return. The diminutive rookie handles the return duties most of the time on punts and kickoffs, and is always dangerous. He had a punt return for a score earlier in the year.
Finally, in kick coverage, Hull is leading the team in tackling, which perhaps contributed to his elevation into the starting line-up. Thomas has also been productive.
I'll be back on Sunday to recap the game.
Note: Pro Football Focus provided some stats used in this article.