The Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets will both be trying to pick up a win on Saturday when they battle at MetLife Stadium.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
When: 8:25 PM ET, Saturday, December 17, 2016
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
|303||MIAMI||3 (-110)||37.5 (-110)||-130
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network.
LINE: Dolphins -3.
PREDICTION: Jets 20, Dolphins 17
Oddsmakers currently have the Dolphins listed as 3-point favorites versus the Jets, while the game’s total is sitting at 37½.
For a guy who has spent most of the last decade as a backup quarterback, Matt Moore has an uncanny knack for intersecting with the New York Jets at pivotal moments of his career.
Moore will make his first start in almost five years on Saturday night, when he replaces an injured Ryan Tannehill for the Miami Dolphins as they visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium.
The opponent for Moore’s previous start on Jan. 1, 2012? The Jets, against whom Moore went 22-of-32 for 135 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the Dolphins’ 19-17 win.
“It’s rare to see, really, to have that much time in between starts, because something usually happens,” Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said Wednesday. “This organization has been fortunate as far as having the same guy behind center game after game.”
Tannehill, whom the Dolphins selected in the first round of the 2012 draft, started the first 77 games of his career before suffering a left knee injury in Sunday’s 26-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Moore, who went 3-of-5 for 47 yards and directed the game-winning drive last week, has attempted just 35 passes since the start of the 2012 season. The bulk of those came against the Jets on Oct. 28, 2012, when Tannehill suffered knee and quad injuries and Moore went 11-of-19 for 131 yards and one touchdown in the Dolphins’ 30-9 win.
“I think I’ve filled my role the best I could and I’ve had opportunities to play and it’s gone well,” Moore said. “I’m lucky I’m surrounded with a great team. I’ve got great guys on offense to work with.”
In another interesting wrinkle, Jets head coach Todd Bowles knows what it’s like to work with Moore: He concluded his three-game stint as the Dolphins’ interim head coach in the 2011 season finale.
“I have a lot of respect for Matt,” Bowles said Tuesday. “He hasn’t played in a while — obviously, Tannehill’s been playing good for them. Matt’s a competitor. I know he can throw the football and he’ll be ready to play.”
With Tannehill expected to avoid surgery but miss the rest of the season, Moore’s task is as easy as it is imposing: Keep the resurgent Dolphins (8-5) in the playoff race against the Jets (4-9), who are one of only three AFC teams eliminated from playoff contention.
The Dolphins, who haven’t reached the playoffs since winning the AFC East in 2008, enter this week tied with the Denver Broncos for the final wild-card spot, though the Broncos enjoy the tiebreaker via a better strength of victory. However, Miami has gone 7-1 in its last eight games while Denver is just 2-4 in its last six games.
Moore said he is trying to keep the same approach even as his job has changed.
“I’ve talked to coach Gase more, I’ve probably talked to (quarterbacks coach) Bo (Hardegree) a little more,” Moore said. “But nothing crazy has changed. I’m obviously excited. It’s an opportunity to win another game and keep us going in the direction we’re going.”
The Jets’ direction has long been established, but Saturday night represents a chance to get a little revenge on the Dolphins while finding out what they have in new starting quarterback Bryce Petty. Miami beat New York 27-23 on Nov. 6, when Kenyan Drake returned a kickoff 96 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Anybody in our room that doesn’t think these guys kicked our butts — and that’s saying it nicely — then something’s wrong with that,” Jets special teams coach Brant Boyer told reporters this week. “Hopefully we play a hell of a lot better than we did when we were down there.”
Petty made his regular season debut Nov. 6, when he played a series in place of injured quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. This will be the third career start for Petty, who was named the permanent starter immediately after a 41-10 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 5. He earned his first NFL win on Sunday, when he led the Jets to 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and overtime of a 23-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
While the Dolphins will be without Tannehill, they enter Saturday in a healthier overall state than the Jets. Tannehill the only Miami player to miss practice Wednesday while linebacker Kiko Alonso (hand, hamstring), linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hand, knee) and defensive end Mario Williams (ankle) were the only ones listed as limited participants.
The Jets, meanwhile, had 12 players listed as did not practice or as a limited participant. Five starters did not participate — running back Matt Forte (knee), right tackle Brent Qvale (hamstring), linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (ankle), nose tackle Steve McLendon (hamstring) and cornerback Buster Skrine (concussion).
In addition, the Jets’ top two wide receivers — Brandon Marshall (knee, foot, back) and Quincy Enunwa (ribs) — were limited participants, as was defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle).