The New York Jets conclude their 2011 regular season on New Year’s Day 2012, as they head to Miami to face the division rival Dolphins in a Week 17 AFC East battle.
The Dolphins are a much different team these days from the team that started 0-7 and lost to the Jets 24-6 back in Week 6. Gone is head coach Tony Sparano has been fired. Secondary coach Todd Bowles is now interim coach.
Star left tackle Jake Long and running back Reggie Bush are out for this week’s game, but there’s no doubt that the Dolphins would like nothing more than to play spoiler and knock the Jets out of the playoffs.
The Jets must win Sunday to keep their faint playoff hopes alive. After that, they need a lot of help. The only thing the Jets can control is their own game in Miami, and that is where their focus will be.
The must-see matchup in this game will be the latest installment of the Brandon Marshall vs. Darrelle Revis battle. The boisterous Dolphins receiver will surely be looking for revenge this time around.
Revis was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his outstanding performance against Marshall a few weeks ago, and he’s coming off one of his best games of the season last Saturday against the New York Giants.
If the Dolphins want to test Revis again this week, which they are more than welcome to do at their own risk, perhaps it can strengthen Revis’s case for Defensive Player of Year. He is certainly a worthy candidate.
For Mark Sanchez, Brian Schottenheimer and the Jets offense, it may very well be the last chance to make a good impression going into the offseason. Big changes are likely coming, hopefully at offensive coordinator.
Win or lose, the Jets need to make improvements in all three phases of the game, and head coach Rex Ryan and the front office will definitely have their hands full as they try to figure out what went wrong in 2011.
The Jets have a tremendous foundation in place, and they have a good core to build upon as they aim high again in 2012. They will be legitimate contenders again, and they’re not going away any time soon.