The Miami Dolphins may have blown out the New York Jets on Black Friday, but let’s not forget that it was a close game until the Dolphins intercepted a Hail Mary pass and returned it for a touchdown on the last play of the first half. Miami is dealing with a lot of injury issues following Monday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, so perhaps the Jets have a chance to spring the upset. Despite that game being less than a month ago, plenty has changed as far as Miami’s team is concerned. According to our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook, the Dolphins are favored by 8.5 points in this game.
Tua Tagovailoa has had a strong season, but he’s gone three games in a row without surpassing 300 passing yards for the first time all season, and he is coming off his first game of the year without a touchdown pass.
The game on Black Friday was one of just two all season where Tagovailoa threw multiple interceptions, including the fourth pick-six of his career and second to Brandin Echols.
Ex-Jet Mike White is the backup. White has thrown four passes this season, including a pick-six and a long touchdown pass. Skylar Thompson is also on the roster as the number three.
Miami has real issues on their offensive line as right tackle Austin Jackson is basically their only starter to stay healthy all year. The former first round pick recently signed a contract extension after playing well this year, following a slow start to his career. Jackson is one of nine Miami players listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, having been limited all week in practice.
The Dolphins’ biggest concern right now is at center, where starter Connor Williams has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to an ACL tear. Liam Eichenberg has seen plenty of action as the number two, but he’s also questionable this week after only practicing on Friday, on a limited basis.
If Eichenberg can’t go, the inexperienced Lester Cotton, who has been starting at guard, might move to center. Alternatively, they could turn to ex-Jet Jonotthan Harrison, who they only just signed.
At guard, starter Robert Hunt has already been ruled out, so Robert Jones will presumably make his second start of the season. He’s struggled in pass protection when called upon this year.
The other starting tackle is Terron Armstead, who is probably Miami’s best lineman, but he missed practice on Wednesday and was limited on Thursday and Friday, so he is also listed as questionable.
The main reserves are Kendall Lamm and Kion Smith, but both play the tackle position, so the Dolphins may need to shuffle the pack if anyone on the interior is limited or unavailable. Lamm has started seven games this year when Armstrong has missed time.
Isaiah Wynn, who had been starting at guard, is also on injured reserve.
Raheem Mostert has continued his terrific season and now needs just 76 yards to surpass 1,000 on the year. He has scored 18 touchdowns and averaged five yards per carry. In the previous meeting between these teams, Mostert had 94 rushing yards and two scores.
Rookie sensation De’Von Achane has averaged an incredible 9.2 yards per carry this year, but he’s been unable to stay on the field. He’s listed as questionable again after returning to practice on a limited basis on Friday. Achane has scored nine touchdowns in just seven games. It looks likely Achane won’t play because Miami has opted to elevate Darrynton Evans from the practice squad.
Jeff Wilson is the number three back and Alec Ingold is the fullback. Wilson had a season-high 56 rushing yards against the Jets.
Tyreek Hill’s amazing season took a turn for the worse in the Titans game on Monday night as he suffered an ankle injury. Hill was limited during the game, although he did catch four passes for 61 yards. He wasn’t on the field at the end of the game and didn’t practice all week. Hill, who is still on pace to become the NFL’s first ever player to record over 2,000 receiving yards in a season, is listed as questionable.
Without Hill, the Dolphins’ offense looked a lot less dynamic, although Jaylen Waddle is capable of stepping up. He had a 100-yard game against the Jets three weeks ago.
Ex-Jets Braxton Berrios and Robbie Chosen (formerly known as Robby Anderson) feature on Miami’s bench, although Chosen has barely played. Berrios has 22 catches.
Cedrick Wilson, River Cracraft and Chase Claypool are also on the roster. Of the three, Wilson has seen the most playing time with 14 receptions.
At tight end, Durham Smythe has 20 catches. Undrafted rookie Julian Hill and another ex-Jet, Tyler Kroft, back up Smythe.
Miami’s 3-4 defense continues to operate with a four-man rotation on the interior, and all four remain healthy.
The unit is led by Christian Wilkins, who leads the team with 7.5 sacks, nine tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hits. Zach Sieler is also having a career year. Sieler has 6.5 sacks and scored on a pick six in the Titans game.
The former Alabama pair, Raekwon Davis and Da’Shawn Hand, split the rest of the reps on the inside.
Miami suffered a blow in their win over the Jets when Jaelan Phillips was lost for the season. His absence has meant that Emmanuel Ogbah’s role has increased, and he’s responded with 2.5 sacks in the last three games after having had a slow start to the year.
With Phillips out, Bradley Chubb is the Dolphins’ best edge rusher, and he now has 6.5 sacks on the season. Andrew Van Ginkel has been starting on the other edge, but he’s listed as questionable for Sunday. The versatile Van Ginkel is more than just an edge rusher, as he also has six passes defensed.
Miami also had to place Jerome Baker on injured reserve, so the starters on the inside are now David Long and Duke Riley. Riley had only played 115 snaps all season before making his first start of the year against Tennessee.
Calvin Munson, Cameron Goode and last year’s top draft pick, Channing Tindall, haven’t contributed much this year but are available off the bench. The Dolphins also just signed veteran Jason Pierre-Paul.
Miami will be without at least one starter in the secondary this week as safety DeShon Elliott has been ruled out. Cornerback Xavien Howard is also listed as questionable with a hip injury.
With Elliott out, Brandon Jones will presumably step into the starting line-up alongside Jevon Holland, who returned the ill-fated Tim Boyle Hail Mary pass 99 yards for the crucial touchdown on Black Friday.
The Dolphins sometimes like to operate with three safeties on the field, so we might see Elijah Campbell in that third safety role. Backup cornerback Nik Needham could also be used there.
Howard and Jalen Ramsey are the starters at cornerback, with Ramsey already leading the team in interceptions despite only playing six games. Howard has a team-high six penalties.
Kader Kohou has been the nickelback, operating primarily out of the slot. He could move outside if Howard is unavailable.
Cam Smith is listed as a second-stringer, ahead of Eli Apple and Justin Bethel, each of whom started games earlier in the season. Miami also elevated Ethan Bonner from the practice squad for this game.
Former Pro Bowl kicker Jason Sanders has missed five kicks this season. Two of these were blocked, including a costly attempt in the one-point loss to Tennessee. Punter Jake Bailey has had a solid year, though.
Although they gave up a kick return touchdown against Denver, the Dolphins have been solid in punt coverage. Bethel is their best gunner, although he and the other gunner, Campbell, have five penalties between them. Goode has also been productive.
Berrios has averaged 24.5 yards per kickoff return but under nine yards per punt return on the season, as he hasn’t had a 20-yard punt return or 40-yard kickoff return yet. Wilson, Mostert and Waddle are available as cover.