Game Preview: N.Y. Jets at Miami

The Dolphins no longer can make the playoffs, but they can play the role of spoilers against their bitter rival, the New York Jets, when the Jets travel for Miami for a Christmas night battle. Here's a complete look at the matchup.

NEW YORK JETS (8-6) AT MIAMI DOLPHINS (6-8)

KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET

SURFACE: Grass

TV: ESPN, Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya

SERIES: 82nd meeting. Jets lead series, 42-38-1. The Dolphins have won three of the last four meetings at home, but their last two victories over the Jets in Miami came in December meetings in which the Jets had long since been eliminated from playoff contention. This season, the Jets are in the thick of the wild-card chase and still have an outside shot at the AFC East title going into the weekend.

2006 RANKINGS: Jets: offense 23rd (18th rush, 19th pass); defense 28th (24th rush, 18th pass). Dolphins: offense 20th (25th rush, 13th pass); defense 3rd (8th rush, 3rd pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Dolphins have mastered New England and laid an egg at Buffalo the past two weeks, so it's impossible to predict which version of Coach Nick Saban's team will show up. The first key is getting a better performance out of QB Joey Harrington, who should have RB Ronnie Brown back in the lineup for the first time in four games to pound away at the Jets' soft run defense. But Harrington also needs help from a receiving corps that let him down with at least six drops in the first meeting. The Jets' offense knows it won't dominate on the ground, but it needs enough of a running threat to sell the play-action pass for QB Chad Pennington. He was sacked just twice in the first meeting, so increasing the pressure will be a major emphasis for the Dolphins' defense.

FAST FACTS: Jets: Have doubled last season's win total. ... Pennington has seven touchdown passes and no interceptions in the past three meetings. Dolphins: Team's 39 victories on Monday nights ties Dallas for the most all time, and Miami leads the league with 32 losses. ... Have four players with at least 50 receptions for the third time in franchise history.

TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya

PERSONNEL NEWS

Jets:

-- WR Laveranues Coles (back) practiced on a limited basis Thursday and is listed as questionable. It would be a surprise if the tough Coles didn't play in this must-win game.

-- C Nick Mangold (hip) practiced and is probable for the Miami game. Mangold, the 29th overall pick, has had a better rookie season than fourth overall pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson.

-- RB Cedric Houston (calf) was limited in practice Thursday and is listed as questionable. Houston has had the most carries of any Jets running back in the last three games.

-- LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson, who allowed one sack to Miami DE Jason Taylor in the first meeting, has had his ups and downs as a rookie, but has been solid for the most part. But he's playing at under 300 pounds and the Jets want him to bulk up over the offseason.

-- FB B.J. Askew (foot) is listed as questionable, and didn't practice full Thursday.

Dolphins:

-- WR Marty Booker, the Dolphins' leader in reception yardage with 701, is doubtful with a sprained ankle. He didn't practice Thursday, restricting his workout to the stationary bicycle.

-- CB Will Allen, who is hampered by groin and hamstring problems, practiced in a non-contact red jersey, but appeared able to play.

-- RB Ronnie Brown practiced for the first time since undergoing surgery on his broken left hand, and is questionable for the Jets' game. It's quite likely that Brown and Sammy Morris will be splitting snaps.

-- WR Derek Hagan, who has 17 catches for 180 yards so far in his rookie season, should get extensive time Monday in lieu of Booker's status. Hagan has dropped too many balls. Wes Welker will probably start.

-- WR Marcus Vick may get into his first NFL game Monday because of the receiver shortage and the recent acquisition of third-string quarterback Shane Matthews. Vick had been the emergency quarterback since Daunte Culpepper stopped playing after the fourth game.

-- DE Jason Taylor has plenty to play for as the fron-trunner for the league's Defensive Player of the Year honors.


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