THE CRYSTAL BALL

The Dolphins will be trying to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Jets when the teams meet Sunday at Pro Player Stadium. Here's how we think the game is going to unfold.

The losing streak in the series has been a source of great frustration for the Dolphins and their fans, particularly because of the way some of those losses occurred — specifically blowing a 30-7 fourth-quarter lead in 2000 and blowing a 17-0 halftime lead last season at Giants Stadium.

Given the way the teams have been playing early this season, don't be surprised to see the Dolphins again jump out to an early lead.

The Jets defense hasn't shown the ability to stop anyone so far this season, and the Dolphins offense has been brilliant in the first half, scoring 28 points against Detroit and 21 against Indianapolis.

Because of the addition of Ricky Williams and the utilization of the tight end and fullback in the passing game, the Dolphins have a lot more options on offense. That means they don't have to force as many things to move the ball downfield. That means they are likely to commit fewer turnovers.

The Dolphins are turned the ball over only once this season, and that happened only because Jay Fiedler overthrew Oronde Gadsden on a crossing pattern when Gadsden was wide open.

There is no reason to think the Dolphins can't rack up close to 400 yards of offense against this Jets defense.

The big variable in trying to predict this game is the Dolphins defense's ability to stop the Jets offense.

New York has had success in the past spreading the Dolphins, and they surely figure to use that scheme again with Patrick Surtain either missing the game or being at less than 100 percent because of his knee injury.

The pressure therefore will be heavy on the Dolphins secondary, particularly second-year corner Jamar Fletcher to stop the Jets passing game.

The Dolphins front four could help out a lot in this area by getting some pressure on Vinny Testaverde, who has had some good games against Miami in recent years.

Because of Surtain's injury, it's difficult to envision the Dolphins defense totally shutting down the Jets, but they should be able to contain them enough to get the victory.

A big factor that can't be overlooked is the fact the game is at Miami in September, and the Dolphins have been unbeatable under those circumstances for the past eight years.

So we see the Dolphins jumping out to a halftime lead of, say, 10 to 14 points, the Jets making a run early in the second half, but the Dolphins finally putting the game away in the fourth quarter.

And with that will be the end — finally, mercifully — of that dreaded losing streak against the Jets.

The call: Dolphins 31, Jets 20.


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