FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - A kickoff return late in the fourth quarter propelled the Miami Dolphins to a 27-23 victory over the Jets in Week Nine. This Saturday, the Jets can get revenge and help keep their division foe on the outskirts of its first playoff appearance since 2009.
The Dolphins rode a six game winning streak into November where they went unbeaten, but had a hefty setback last week. Ryan Tannehill tore his ACL in the teams 26-23 home win over the Arizona Cardinals. Tannehill was emotional on the sidelines and had to be comforted by his teammates. Tannehill was having a great season. Matt Moore will get his first since 2012 where he faced the Jets oddly enough. Upon replacing Tannehill in the third quarter last week, Moore finished the game 3-of-5 with 47 yards in his first action of the season. He was able to get his team in position to kick the game-winning field goal.
The Jets defensive line can take advantage of Tannehill's absence by getting after Moore at MetLife Stadium. Miami will look to protect him by utilizing the run game with Jay Ajayi, who is 44 yards away from a 1,000 yard season. Ajayi ran for 111 yards and one touchdown in the last meeting between both teams, as Ajayi got stronger as the game went on. The "Jay Train" had his most impactful run in the first quarter with a 20 yard touchdown, but Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson were benched in the first quarter for disciplinary reasons. The Jets rushing defense has declined since then but they still have the talent to limit Ajayi.
"We got some mental things out of the way and we missed some tackles," head coach Todd Bowles said about the recent struggle defending the run.
This defense as a whole has injuries at every position. The defensive line needs to play huge because that's where all of the playmakers are. Teams have been able to neutralize the Jets pass rush with short passes, which Matt Moore may try to exploit. Moore has been in the league for a decade and is very capable of leading the Dolphins to a win. He's a solid backup and in 2011, Moore had a career year with Miami, throwing for nearly 2,500 yards in 12 starts. He also threw 16 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Turnovers have been scarce for this defense all year but Moore could give them a few if they rattle him early. Quarterback pressures and turnovers will be the key to this game and it all revolves around the defensive line.
The Dolphins (8-5) are currently tied for the last wild card spot in the AFC. With only three games left to play, a Jets win Saturday would push Miami closer to watching the post season from home.