THE GAME: The Miami Dolphins (8-5) at the Jets (4-9) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 8:25 p.m. ET.
THE WEATHER: The good news, I guess, is that there probably won't be many people showing up to endure this, so there'll be plenty of places for you to take cover inside the stadium. The bad news? The day will be an ugly mix of rain and snow and wind. Probably mostly rain on Saturday night as temperatures actually warm up into the low 40s. But the rain should be pretty steady. So … enjoy!
WHAT IT MEANS: For the Jets, it's nothing but a glimpse of the future. It's Start No. 3 for QB Bryce Petty, who got off to a rough start last week in San Francisco but ended up with decent numbers and an overtime win against a truly, truly awful team. The Dolphins are quite the step up in class.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jets QB Bryce Petty. I'm not sure there's anyone else worth watching on this team anymore. It's all about the future and who next year's quarterback will be, and this is Part II of a four-part audition for Petty. He was up and down (or down and up, really) last week in San Francisco. Normally for young quarterbacks it's not a stable ascent. There are plenty of ups and downs (or downs and ups) along the way. But Petty isn't on a long leash here. Yes, he'll get the rest of the season, but it's sort of a sink or swim audition for him. The Jets need to get a read on him by the end of the season or it'll be someone else in the mix for the starting job next season. So a bad game by Petty, even this early in his career, could be big trouble.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Jets linebackers against Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi. With Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill out, they're not likely to throw the ball all over the field with Matt Moore making his first start in five years. That means Ajayi will be the main cog in their offense, and he's been largely ineffective since his last game against the Jets. A lot of that has to do with struggles along the Dolphins' offensive line. Whatever it is, he's totaled 154 yards and averaged about three yards per carry in his last three games. The Jets' defensive line should be focused on rattling and rushing Moore, which means players like David Harris and rookie Darron Lee will be the ones charged with stopping Ajayi -- especially if he breaks through to the second level of the defense.
THE PICK: This should've been just a common-sense pick. If the Jets needed overtime to beat the 1-12 49ers then surely they'd be destroyed by the in-the-playoff-hunt Dolphins. The problem with that is with the Miami quarterback. The equation changes with Moore taking over for Tannehill. At least a little. The Dolphins are still a good team and Ajayi will give them lots of trouble, and Moore will have the added advantage of seeing receiver Jarvis Landry lined up against Darrelle Revis. That should be enough to get the Dolphins in the end zone a few times. As for the Jets, they will again try to rely on their running game, and that will help, even if (or perhaps especially if) Matt Forte is replaced by Bilal Powell. But there's reason to worry about Petty in this game. The Dolphins' pass defense isn't bad (ranked 10th) and Petty wasn't great against the 49ers a week ago. Chances are he's going to struggle against a much more difficult defense to decipher, and that means he's likely headed for a turnover or two. ... Dolphins 30, Jets 16.
MY RECORD: 9-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 3-3
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 6-1