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New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Predictions 10-18-2020

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The much-improved Miami Dolphins, coming off an impressive 43-17 win over the San Francisco 49ers, must protect against a letdown when the winless New York Jets visit on Sunday.

The rout in the Bay Area improved Miami's record to 2-3. Since starting the 2019 season 0-7, the Dolphins are 7-7.

Coincidentally, the turnaround started with a 26-18 victory last November over ... the Jets.

New York (0-5) has been a mess this season, and that continued this week when general manager Joe Douglas decided to cut running back Le'Veon Bell, who made $27.5 million while playing just 17 games for the club.

Bell, who had been a three-time Pro Bowl player with the Pittsburgh Steelers, rushed for just 863 yards and a 3.3-yard average with the Jets, but he was hardly New York's only problem.

Quarterback Sam Darnold, who missed last week's 30-10 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals due to a shoulder injury, has been ruled out for the game at Miami.

"There's pain every now and then, but I'm feeling a lot better," Darnold said earlier this week. "It's getting better every day."

Prior to the injury, Darnold had seen his numbers regress. After going 7-6 last season with 19 TDs and 13 interceptions, Darnold is 0-4 this year with three TDs and four picks.

Joe Flacco, who led the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl victory in the 2012 season, is set to start his second consecutive game in place of Darnold.

Flacco, 35, is an accomplished veteran, but he hasn't had a winning season since 2017. Since then, he is 6-12 as a starter with 19 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions for three teams.

Meanwhile, Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick turns 38 next month, and he is playing as if he were a decade younger.

Fitzpatrick has three 300-yard games this season, and he is completing 70.6 percent of his passes. He is prone to taking sacks (40 last year and eight this season) and throwing interceptions (13 last year and five this season), but he also scrambles endlessly, often creating havoc on defenses.

Fitzpatrick is playing behind a rebuilt offensive line. At right tackle, rookie second-round pick Robert Hunt made his first start against the 49ers, playing every offensive snap.

"He showed himself well," Dolphins second-year coach Brian Flores said. "The moment wasn't too big for him."

Rookie first-round pick Austin Jackson, who had been playing left tackle, is out injured. Flores moved right tackle Jesse Davis to the left side to replace Jackson, creating the opening for Hunt. Miami is also starting a rookie at right guard, fourth-round pick Solomon Kindley.

The big story for the Dolphins' defense is the play of star cornerback Xavien Howard, who has one interception in each of his past three games. Howard shared the NFL lead with seven interceptions in 2018 but was limited to just five games last year due to a knee injury.

"That dude always seems to find a way to get the ball," Dolphins cornerback Byron Jones said of Howard, who has 15 interceptions in his past 27 games. "It's cool to be out there with one of the best."

Howard and Jones, who both made the Pro Bowl in 2018, will look to shut down a Jets passing game that has just wide receiver Jamison Crowder in terms of reliable playmakers. In just three games this year, Crowder has 22 catches for 335 yards and two touchdowns.

Miami, meanwhile, has three pass-catching playmakers: wide receivers DeVante Parker (team-high 26 catches for 329 yards) and Preston Williams (team-high 19.5-yard average per reception) and tight end Mike Gesicki (18 catches, 15.6 average).

--Field Level Media

Prediction

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Key Players to Watch

Stadium

Sun Life Stadium
Miami Gardens, Florida, USA.
Capacity: 75,540

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Last Injuries

Miami Dolphins

  • Kyle Van Noy

    Groin
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Van Noy missed the previous game with groin and foot injuries, and it is unclear if he will be active versus the Rams in Week 8.

  • Kamu Grugier-Hill

    Hand
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Grugier-Hill was lifted from the previous contest with a hand injury, and it remains to be seen if he will face the Rams in Week 8.

  • Malcolm Perry

    Illness
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Perry has sat out the last two games with an illness, and it remains to be seen if he will take part in Week 8 versus the Rams.

  • DeVante Parker

    Groin
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Parker sustained a groin injury in the previous game, and it has yet to be established if he will line up against the Rams in Week 8.

  • Andrew Van Ginkel

    Head
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Van Ginkel was forced from the last game due to a concussion. It is unclear if he will suit up against the Rams in Week 8.

  • Davon Godchaux

    Bicep
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Godchaux is on the injured reserve after undergoing surgery to repair a torn biceps, and he will miss an extended period.

  • Raekwon Davis

    Shoulder
    Ques Week 8 | questionable

    Davis departed the last game with a shoulder injury, and it is undetermined if he will take the field against the Rams in Week 8.

  • Durham Smythe

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Smythe missed the last contest with a knee injury, and it is unclear if he will be available against the Jets on Sunday.

New York Jets

  • Denzel Mims

    Hamstring
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Mims has been shifted to the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with an injury to both hamstrings. It is unknown if he will come off the IR in time for Sunday's game versus the Bills.

  • Jabari Zuniga

    Quadricep
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Zuniga has wound up on the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list with a quad injury, and it is uncertain if he will return to the field against the Bills on Sunday.

  • Frankie Luvu

    Groin
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Luvu left the last contest with a groin injury, and it is unclear if he will face the Bills on Sunday.

  • Arthur Maulet

    Groin
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Maulet has been entered on the Injured Reserve/Designated for Return list due to a groin injury, and it is unknown if he will return to action against the Bills on Sunday.

  • Cameron Clark

    Knee
    Ques Sun | I-R

    Clark has landed on the injured reserve list with knee and shoulder injuries. It is undetermined if he will return against the Bills on Sunday.

  • Chuma Edoga

    Calf
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Edoga departed the previous game with a calf injury, leaving his status against the Bills on Sunday up in the air.

  • Alex Lewis

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Lewis exited the last game with a shoulder injury, and it is unknown if he will play against the Bills on Sunday.

  • Sam Darnold

    Shoulder
    Doub Sun | doubtful

    Darnold has missed the last two games with a right shoulder AC joint sprain, and he is not expected to be available Sunday against the Bills.