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NFL Preview - N.Y. Jets (7-8) at Miami (8-7)



By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor

(SportsNetwork.com) - Few would have seen this one coming three Decembers ago.

When he arrived in New York with over-the-top bravado and instantly transformed the Jets from laughingstocks to two-time runners-up in the AFC Championship Game, it appeared that Rex Ryan would hold the keys to the franchise for as long as he wanted.

Just three years later, though, he may well be in the final throes of a reign gone sour.

The Jets visit Miami's Sun Life Stadium this weekend for a meaningless -- to them, at least -- Week 17 game that will end a third consecutive season without a playoff berth.

While the 8-8 and 6-10 records New York slogged to in the past two years have been somewhat surprising given elevated preseason expectations, the job Ryan has done to get the 2013 team within a game of .500 is considered by some the best coaching exhibition of his five-year stint.

Most preseason forecasts suggested the Jets were a four-win team at best with a rookie quarterback and little in the way of premier talent, but Ryan shepherded them to a 5-4 start that yielded brief playoff scenario chatter before an untimely three-game skid in weeks 11, 12 and 13.

New York rallied to 7-8 with a 24-13 defeat of Cleveland last week, rallying from a 10-point deficit in what might have been Ryan's final home game at MetLife Stadium.

"It's just one of those things where he really cares about his players," wide receiver David Nelson said. "Players appreciate that. Players know and they respect him for that. They believe in him and they respect him and they play hard for him. It's just the mutual respect he gives his players."

QB Geno Smith's 2,856 passing yards are a franchise record for rookies and he scored his fifth rushing touchdown against Cleveland, a total that's second among all NFL passers. He has four passing TDs in his last three games -- after posting just one in his previous five -- and has thrown just two interceptions in his last 80 pass attempts.

Still, his 21 interceptions and 55.3 completion percentage have surely upped Ryan's gray hair ratio, and he was just 4-of-10 for 29 yards in a 23-3 loss to the Dolphins at home in Week 13.

"He needs his time, and I think it's unfair for anybody to step out and say, 'Oh, this kid is not having a great year. Let's look for a new one,'" guard Willie Colon said. "Every player needs time to develop. It's up to us as a team to get better, up to us as a line to do a better job and let the kid grow up. And, I think he's doing that."

For the Dolphins, the finale means a possible gateway to something more.

Though Miami was the site of league-wide scorn following a midseason bullying scandal, coach Joe Philbin returned the team to contention and has it within reach of the AFC's sixth and final playoff berth.

The Dolphins have won four of six since a Nov. 11 loss at Tampa Bay and can secure a spot via a number of scenarios, the simplest of which are a defeat of the Jets and a loss or tie by Baltimore at Cincinnati, or a win against New York alongside a win by San Diego against visiting Kansas City.

"We have to play our best game of the year. It's a great way for us to finish the regular season," Philbin said. "We've got a great opportunity."

Things would have been far simpler had it not been for an inconvenient clunker last week, when Miami traveled to Buffalo and was smothered, 19-0, while compiling just 103 total yards and allowing 203 rushing yards to a Bills team with just five wins in 14 games.

The Dolphins rushed for just 14 yards on 12 carries after exceeding 100 eight times in 14 games and going for 120 against the Bills in a Week 7 contest.

"That's the worst part - we had everything in front of us," safety Jimmy Wilson said. "We knew how important that game was, and to drop it like that without getting points or making impact plays or giving ourselves a chance to win is a big letdown. We just have to get ready for a home game and go ahead and finish our season the right way."

Miami had 125 yards on the ground against New York on Dec. 1.

"Of those 12 carries (against Buffalo), our longest run was 3 yards," offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. "A lack of productivity in the run game caused me to veer off into another direction."

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

A Home Finale?

Veteran safety Ed Reed, a native of Miami who played at "The U" before beginning what's likely to end up as a Hall of Fame career, could be making his final NFL appearance on Sunday with the Jets. He's surged as of late in this, his 12th professional season, and has two interceptions in his last three games -- the first two of his six-game stint with New York. Reed has five career interceptions against the Dolphins, including a postseason meeting while with Baltimore.

Dialing Long Distance

First-year Dolphin Mike Wallace, he of the lucrative offseason contract, enters the regular-season finale in Miami just 95 yards away from recording the third 1,000-yard receiving season of his career -- he went for 1,297 and 1,193 in 2010 and 2011, respectively. The former Steeler has averaged 86 yards per game in three career regular-season meetings with New York, and he had seven catches for 82 yards and a TD in Miami's road win on Dec. 1.

OVERALL ANALYSIS

The amount of admiration the Jets players have for Ryan is easy to spot, but the Dolphins have significantly more on the line this week and it's likely the New York surge will stall after securing the win in its own home finale last weekend. If it's anything like the first time the teams met earlier this month, this one will be close and low-scoring, but the home team will find a way.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Dolphins 17, Jets 13

12/27 09:51:58 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Wednesday
ROC
DUR
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
HOU 4
BAL 1
Final
KAN 1
NYY 5
Final
MIA 1
PIT 5
Final
WAS 2
CHC 3
9th
CWS 9
TOR 7
 
Final
COL 1
CIN 2
 
10th
PHI 4
NYM 4
 
8th
SEA 6
TAM 3
 
7th
TEX 3
CLE 3
 
3rd
BOS 1
MIN 2
 
6th
SFG 5
MIL 2
 
6th
ARI 4
STL 6
 
1st
DET 0
OAK 0
 
1st
SDP 0
ANA 0
 
1st
ATL 0
LOS 0
 
12:10pm Wednesday
TEX
CLE
 
12:35pm Wednesday
COL
CIN
 
12:35pm Wednesday
MIA
PIT
 
12:37pm Wednesday
CWS
TOR
 
1:05pm Wednesday
KAN
NYY
 
1:10pm Wednesday
BOS
MIN
 
1:10pm Wednesday
PHI
NYM
 
1:10pm Wednesday
SEA
TAM
 
1:40pm Wednesday
SFG
MIL
 
3:35pm Wednesday
DET
OAK
 
4:35pm Wednesday
HOU
BAL
 
8:05pm Wednesday
WAS
CHC
 
8:15pm Wednesday
ARI
STL
 
10:05pm Wednesday
SDP
ANA
 
10:10pm Wednesday
ATL
LOS
 
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
3rd
ATL 58
CLE 79
 
9:00pm Wednesday
HOU
GSW
 
8:30pm Thursday
CLE
ATL
 
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
8:30pm Saturday
ATL
CLE
 
3rd
NYR 2
TAM 1
 
8:00pm Wednesday
ANA
CHI
 
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 1
DUR 2
 
1:05pm Wednesday
ROC
DUR
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR