The Dolphins are doing a terrible job of tanking this week after upsetting the Eagles last week and entering the softest portion of their schedule. The Jets fell back to earth after a three-game winning streak.
Miami Dolphins vs New York Jets
Sunday 8 December 2019 at MetLife Stadium
The Dolphins are doing the worst job of tanking in NFL history. A late-season game against the lowly Bengals was supposed to be Miami’s one chance to avoid an 0-16 year, as Fish Tank ’19 saw the team jettison top players for draft picks early in the season.
Instead, Miami stands at 3-9 as the Dolphins enter the softest portion of their schedule. After the Jets, the Dolphins face the 2-10 Giants and 1-11 Bengals. Three losses could clinch at least the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but the Dolphins are coming off of an upset win over the Eagles last week that defies all tanking logic. So it’s hard to imagine them calling off the dogs for this December cakewalk.
Sunday’s game against the Jets could determine who takes third place in the AFC East. The Dolphins have already beaten the Jets once this season and New York has the unenviable accomplishment of having lost to both the winless Dolphins and the winless Bengals this year.
Big loss for Jets
Between the Miami and Cincinnati losses, the Jets actually appeared to be putting things together. Quarterback Sam Darnold had seven touchdowns and one interception in a three-game winning streak, with two games posting over a 120 passer rating. Last week, he turned in a 71.4 rating against Cincy and 28 of 48 passing, his lowest rating and completion percentage since he “saw ghosts” in a blowout loss to New England in October, so it’s anyone’s guess which Darnold shows up.
The biggest problem for the Jets is that they’ll be without safety Jamal Adams, who is expected to miss the first game of his NFL career on Sunday. Adams went down with a sprained ankle early in the Bengals game and is considered week-to-week. Adams leads the Jets in tackles, sacks, tackles for loss, pass defenses and forced fumbles. He’ll be replaced by backup Blake Countess and waiver pickup Bennett Jackson. Adams was one of seven Jets defensive players that didn’t practice this week.
Since turning the offense over to veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins have been rolling. Since Week Nine, Fitz is fifth in the league in yardage, seventh in touchdowns and ninth in completion percentage. Wide receiver DeVante Parker has been his top target, averaging 102.2 yards per game since Week Nine.
On the other side, the inconsistent Darnold could use support from a running game, but for the most part, he hasn’t gotten it. Big-name running back Le’Veon Bell hasn’t rushed for more than 70 yards in a game this season and had just 32 against the Bengals’ league-worst run defense last week. Miami is second to last in the league, allowing 143.5 yards per game on the ground, so Bell will get another chance to break out this season.
The momentum all seems to indicate a Dolphins win, but at some point, there needs to be a regression to the mean. The Dolphins are a bad team that has been playing well. The Jets aren’t terrible but have been down against the worst opponents. Look for both to bounce back to form and the Jets to post a win.