Tale Of The Tape: New York Jets At Miami Dolphins
- QuarterbackThe Jets got the kind of performance from rookie quarterback Geno Smith in Week 16 vs. the Browns that they were hoping to get on a consistent basis. Smith has excellent athletic ability and he is a strong runner. However, he has a tough time reading defenses and he often makes incorrect decisions. Smith has a 12-21 TD-interception ratio, and that inconsistency could haunt him in this game.The Dolphins were awful on the offensive side of the ball vs. the Bills in Week 16, but they can still make the playoffs if they beat the Jets while the Ravens lose or the Chargers win. Ryan Tannehill was awful against Buffalo, but he has been solid overall in the second half of the season. He is completing 61.1 percent of his passes and he has 23 touchdown passes.
- OffenseThe Jets are one of the most limited offensive teams in the league. Their best option is to let running backs Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory attack opposing defenses between the tackles. This gives the Jets a chance to wear down their opponents. The Jets' best receivers are Jeremy Kerley and tight end Kellen Winslow, and neither one is a gamebreaker.The Dolphins are not one of the more gifted offensive teams in the league, but head coach Joe Philbin has found a way to get the most out of running backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. They give the Dolphins a semblance of a hard-hitting running game. Brian Hartline is a quality wide receiver who has caught 74 passes. Explosive Mike Wallace can stretch the field with his speed.
- DefenseThe Jets are going to try to crush the Dolphins' hopes with their hard-hitting defense. This may be Rex Ryan’s last game as head coach, and you can be sure his defensive players will be fired up to give him a potential going-away present. Linebacker David Harris has a team-high 118 tackles to lead the NFL’s third-best run defense. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson leads the Jets with 10.5 sacks.The Dolphins rank 20th overall on defense and while they have not been consistent, they should be good enough to get the best of the Jets. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler has a team-high 109 tackles and has the speed to range sideline-to-sideline to make plays. Defensive end Olivier Vernon is an underrated pass rusher who has a team-best 11.5 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Jets have been consistent in their special-teams coverage, but they have struggled with their own return game. They have not given up a punt return longer than 38 yards, they have not returned a punt for more than 24 yards. Nick Folk has had an excellent season, making 31-of-33 FG attempts.The Dolphins have not allowed opponents to return a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown, but they have given up some big returns. Marcus Thigpen has decent speed and is capable of making productive plays. Caleb Sturgis is a below-average placekicker.
The Dolphins need some help – as do all the other contenders for the AFC’s No. 6 seed – but they have an excellent chance of getting the best of the offensively challenged Jets in the season finale. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor