THE CRYSTAL BALL

The Dolphins aren't playing for a playoff spot Sunday, but there are certain incentives for a few players and one big one for Coach Dave Wannstedt. His job status has been a hot topic in Miami in recent weeks, and it's clear finishing 10-6 would look better on his resume than 9-7. Will he get that victory? Here's how we think the game will unfold.

It's been a really, really long time since the Dolphins played a season finale without the playoffs being a factor, so there's no telling how the players will come out.

The Jets also are out of the playoffs for the first time in three years, so the letdown factor applies to them as well.

The game is in Miami, which will help the Dolphins, and this is a rivalry game.

The Jets were not a very good team this year, and their problems go way beyond Chad Pennington missing over two months because of a wrist injury.

In fact, Pennington's quarterback rating (79) isn't nearly as good as that of Vinny Testaverde (90).

The Jets have had problems stopping the run all season, and their own running game hasn't been great even though Curtis Martin once again is over 1,000 yards.

The Dolphins totally dominated the first half of the first meeting at Giants Stadium in September and held on for a 21-10 victory.

Ricky Williams rushed for 125 yards in that game and Wannstedt already has said he plans on using Williams Sunday as in any other game.

Even if the Dolphins go to backup Travis Minor, they should still have success against the Jets' porous defense.

And there lies the Dolphins' biggest advantage.

Martin probably won't get much accomplished against the Dolphins' run defense and the Dolphins' pass defense is much more solid now than it was when the teams first met this season.

The one guy who could really hurt the Dolphins is speedster and former University of Miami star Santana Moss, both as a wide receiver and as a punt returner.

But we don't see it happening often enough for the Jets.

It's funny because there are a lot of Dolphins fans actually hoping they lose Sunday to convince owner Wayne Huizenga to make a coaching change.

But we think those people will be disappointed.

The call: Dolphins 24, Jets 14.


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