New York Jets To Finish Season Trying To Spoil Miami Dolphins’ Playoff Chances

The New York Jets can only play spoiler. That’s as they finish what was once a promising season Sunday in Miami against the Dolphins, who are playing for their playoff lives and may end up using a journeyman quarterback they just signed on Wednesday.

And that, folks, is why the line has moved from Jets +1 to Jets – 1 or -1 1/2 over the course of this week. You think Gang Green’s fans being down on Zach Wilson is a major deal? Well, the bettors and the major sportsbooks are not being all that enamored with the backup to Tua Tagovailoa and Teddy Bridgewater.

If fortunes had been a little kinder to each of these teams, Zach Wilson and Tagovailoa would be matching up in a game that would have had postseason seeding implications. But Wilson has been bolted to the bench, and Tagovailoa is in the concussion protocol once again and has not been practicing this week.

A win by the Jets would end Miami’s season, while a win by the Dolphins and a loss by New England against Buffalo would get Miami in as the No. 7 seed, which would earn them a wild card matchup against Buffalo, Kansas City, or Cincinnati. With the NFL schedule a mess because of the events of Monday night in Cincinnati, seeding in the AFC will not be determined until the league decides if and when the Bills-Bengals game will be resumed.

For now, it appears Mike White will be the starting quarterback for the Jets. Wilson has been playing with the practice squad, which usually means he will be on ice — even though coach Robert Saleh issued a strong endorsement Wednesday of the 23-year-old signal-caller.

Why Have The Lines Moved So Much?

Generally, a team playing at home with a postseason berth at stake going up against a team that is ending its season would indicate a strong propensity for the home team to win. But the Dolphins are in quarterback hell. Skylar Thompson is taking snaps with the first unit in practice. That’s because of Tagovailoa being in the concussion protocol and backup Teddy Bridgewater unable to throw a football because of a dislocated pinkie finger he sustained last Sunday.

Mike Glennon has been signed as an emergency backup, and Thompson could be the starter if Bridgewater’s condition does not improve. Thompson, a rookie from Kansas State who was selected in the seventh round of the last NFL draft, went 12-fo-24 for 104 yards with one TD pass and one interception after Bridgewater was hurt against the Pats. It was his sixth appearance of the season and the third in which he played meaningful minutes.

Thompson had his fifth pass against New England picked off. Though he threw a 4-yard TD pass to Mike Gesicki with 1:04 remaining, the Dolphins did not recover the ensuing onside kick and lost their fifth in a row.

The Jets also enter this game with a five-game losing streak. Their season went south when they came up five points short at Minnesota on Dec. 4 to begin a slide that also has includes losses to the Bills, Lions, Jaguars, and Seahawks. New York scored just 3 points against Jacksonville and 6 against Seattle, which is why this game has the second-lowest over/under on the board this weekend: 38 1/2.

New York has gone under in four straight and nine of 11, and Miami has alternated going over and under in each of its last seven games. The 38 1/2 line is three points lower than any previous Dolphins game this season.

Of the nine sportsbooks licensed in New York, Draft Kings and Resorts World have the line at Jets – 1 1/2. The seven others have it Jets -1.

Wilson’s Future in New York

The struggling quarterback will be inactive Sunday in the team’s season finale at Miami, with Mike White starting a second straight game and Joe Flacco the backup. Still, coach Robert Saleh insisted Wednesday that Wilson still has a future with the franchise.

“Zach has got all the talent in the world, and we have all the confidence in the world in him,” Saleh said. “It’s just like I’ve said from this ‘reset,’ we’re going to grind with him, we are. And through hell or high water, we’re going to figure out how to get him to where we know he can be.”

Some fans and media have labeled the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft a bust, and his statistics support that. Wilson has 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions with a 55.2 completion rate and a 72.8 quarterback rating in 22 starts.

The off-season will bring whatever it will bring, including a verdict on whether Saleh was talking Wilson up in order to keep his trade value up. As for Sunday, Saleh has faith in his Jets.

“One thing I love about this league is that when those players put those helmets on, they’re professionals — they get it,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “The idea that players tank, they don’t show up, they don’t play hard, I don’t believe in it because these guys are putting tape out there for 31 other teams to see, for fans to see, for everyone to see. There’s a lot of pride in players, there’s a lot of pride in coaches, to go out there, and regardless of your record, to go out there and do your absolute best. So, I’m not worried about our guys getting up for this game and trying to play spoiler.”

Saleh and Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel are good friends, and coached together in Houston and San Francisco. Saleh joked that he would love to knock McDaniel from playoff contention.

“Would it be nice to have McDaniel hanging out with me poolside in a couple weeks? You’re damn right it would,” Saleh said. “But really, it’s more about us, and making sure that we’re focused on finishing the season strong and being our absolute best, and whatever happens, happens.”

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