Miami Dolphins (8-5 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. New York Jets (4-9 SU, 5-8 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Saturday Night Football, December 17, 2016 at 8:25PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
TV: NFL Network
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: MIA -2.5/NYJ +2.5
Over/Under Total: 38.5
The Miami Dolphins come to MetLife Stadium in a key week 15 AFC East battle and also the NFL's first Saturday game of the season. Both teams won on Sunday. The Jets overcame a 14-0 deficit to beat the 49ers 23-17 in overtime on Sunday. It's been a long season for the Jets, but they showed a lot of fight on Sunday. That should serve them well against a Dolphins bunch that got back on the winning track on Sunday with a tough 26-23 win over the Cardinals. The Dolphins have won 7 of their last 8, but got some bad news, with Ryan Tannehill's knee injury throwing the Miami season into the iffy zone. The Dolphins now look to move ahead with Matt Moore at quarterback. To his credit, Moore was able to lead Miami on a game-winning drive on Sunday.
For those who had been paying attention to Miami overcoming a 1-4 start, they know how instrumental Tannehill was to the Dolphins completely turning things around. He has put forth some monster games lately and losing him makes it hard to be overly-optimistic about the Dolphins' chances. Tannehill had been nothing but ultra-durable since coming into the league, so perhaps as a result, Miami didn't get anyone terribly exciting to back him up. Moore has 24 career starts, but none since 2011. Since then, he's only thrown 35 passes. He normally acquitted himself well when he was in there, but with Tannehill missing no time since joining the league, Moore has had almost no work. The former Oregon State standout is now 32. In games like this, perhaps the Dolphins and Moore can make it work. But moving forward, Moore will really have to surprise for Miami to remain an interesting darkhorse moving forward.
Moore has some weapons with which to work. On the ground, Jay Ajayi is nearing 1000 yards. Still, his season is comprised of several really good games with a bunch of so-so ones. The aerial weapons have been productive, led by Jarvis Landry and his 75 receptions, along with Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker. This Miami team has shown an ability to work through issues already this season. It takes a lot of inner-resource for a team to find success after a 1-4 start where they looked terrible at times. In his first season, Adam Gase has been able to make this a team of high character and grit, so maybe they can get through this adversity better than some are forecasting.
The Miami defense has been very consistent this season. They're not great, but they never get embarrassed, despite being awfully leaky against the run at times this season. Since going 1-4 to open the season, they have allowed more than 25 points just once. On Sunday, they registered two sacks and two picks. Cameron Wake had another sack on Sunday and is heating up. They've gotten 21 turnovers this season and can sometimes get standout play in their secondary.
It would have been easy for the Jets to give up on Sunday, with a hungry home 49ers team hungry for a win and having it in sights after leading 17-6 with just over five minutes left in the game. A few TD runs from Bilal Powell and a 50-yard FG from Nick Folk ended up being the defining points of the game, with the Jets registering a 23-17 overtime win. This is a team that is still fighting. Make no mistake, they're bad. That showed that again the previous week in a 41-10 loss to Indy, But they nearly beat the Pats in the game before that and Sunday showed there's still a good effort coming from this bunch.
The Jets are going with Bryce Petty behind center, with Ryan Fitzpatrick's play getting him benched for what might be the rest of the season. He threw a pick, but wasn't bad on 23-for-35 passing with 257 yards. Powell gave the Jets a big boost with 145 yards and two scores on the ground, along with five catches. Rookie Robbie Anderson led receivers with 99 yards. Still, it's worth noting that while Matt Moore might be a dicey proposition behind center for the Dolphins, it's not like Petty is an established commodity himself. But his gutty performance was key in the Jets scoring the comeback win on Sunday.
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On Sunday, the 49ers were doing really well against the Jets' defense early. In the opening 4:15 of the game, it was 14-0 San Francisco, with the Jets looking really ragged against a fired-up Niners offense. But they tightened up and held them to a field goal for the duration of the game. And that's with San Fran's Carlos Hyde putting up nearly 200 yards in rushing. They clamped down late and got the job done. Since week 5, the Jets have given up more than 28 points in a game just once.
On November 6, the Dolphins beat the Jets at home, 27-23, when a Kenyan Drake kickoff return touchdown put Miami ahead in the fourth quarter in a back-and-forth battle. It was a competitive game, but though it was just over a month ago, it's not clear how much it impacts this matchup. Both starting quarterbacks have changed. Miami's Ajayi was able to run for 111 yards against this bunch, while the Jets' Matt Forte had his moments. Forte is listed as day-to-day for this game. This is a big game for Miami, as they look to see where they are without Tannehill in there. But in a game that has a certain toss-up quality to it. I'm inclined to take the points.
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