THE CRYSTAL BALL

The Dolphins have begun to assert themselves, thanks to their three-game winning streak against the Jets, Bills and Giants. Can they make it four in a row? Here's our take on how we think things will unfold Sunday at ALLTEL Stadium.

The Dolphins probably will be without the services of linebacker Junior Seau for this game against a Jacksonville team that might have found new life after inserting rookie Byron Leftwich at quarterback.

Then there's the return of wide receiver Jimmy Smith last week from his NFL suspension.

Simply put, the Jaguars, who lost on the final play of the game against Carolina and Houston, are a pretty good 1-4 team, if there is such a thing.

But the Dolphins are a pretty good team, period, and they have been playing like it lately, particularly on defense.

We really don't see the absence of Seau making a major difference for the Dolphins here.

We also see the Dolphins secondary causing some major problems for Leftwich, who has loads of talent but also is inexperience and is known to stare down his receivers.

That's going to bite him against the Dolphins, who have seven picks in their last two games. Look for them to have at least a couple against Leftwich, and Patrick Surtain is a good place to start.

The Dolphins have been good against the run all season, so we don't see Fred Taylor having a huge game for the Jaguars, although he's dangerous.

On offense, Jacksonville could present problems for Ricky Williams. The Jags have been tough against the run and they figure to follow the Giants' lead and sell out to make sure Williams doesn't beat them.

That will open things up on offense, and that's where Jay Fiedler needs to step up.

This is Fiedler's first game at ALLTEL Stadium since he lit up the Dolphins to complete Jacksonville's 62-7 humiliation in the playoffs a few years ago.

He doesn't need to be that good for the Dolphins Sunday, but he needs to make a few throws and avoid costly turnovers.

Fiedler hasn't played particularly well lately, and we're thinking this is the game he puts it together.

The Dolphins are legit, folks. The defense has carried the load in recent weeks, but the offense wakes up this week.

There's no reason to think the winning streak won't continue.

The call: Dolphins 27, Jaguars 13.


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