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NFL New York Jets

5 Things to Watch for New York Jets vs Miami Dolphins

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5 Things to Watch for New York Jets vs Miami Dolphins

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets are closing out their season this week against the Miami Dolphins, and they are looking to finish the year with their first back to back wins of the season. The Jets have been playing better over their last three games, and a win against the Dolphins would put the Jets at 8-8 and give them something to build on in the offseason.

The Dolphins need this win to make the playoffs, but the Jets would love to play spoiler against one of their biggest rivals. Antonio Cromartie said this week that the Jets want to take the Dolphins down with them, which only adds more heat to this intense rivalry.

The biggest storyline for the Jets will obviously be the job status of head coach Rex Ryan, who may be coaching his last game in New York. He needs a win to punctuate his case to be brought back, and the team will play hard for their coach.

On the field, the Jets will be looking to continue to improve offensively, especially Geno Smith. A strong game could help Smith prove to management that they can count on him as their starting quarterback next season. There are quite a few other players on both sides of the ball trying to prove their worth to John Idzik as well, so everyone still has something to play for.

The Jets want to finish the season on a high note, so expect them to come out and play a good game. They are not going to roll over and let the Dolphins into the postseason, especially after Miami helped ruin the Jets’ chances. This is still a big game for both teams, and these are the keys.

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Can Geno Smith Finish Season Strong?

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

Smith was absolutely awful in the middle of the season, but he has made huge strides over the last three weeks. In his last three games Smith is completing 57.3% of his passes for 600 yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs. He has also been effective on the ground, carrying 18 times for 142 yards and 2 TDs. Most importantly, the Jets are 2-1 in those games.

This is the type of dual threat quarterback the Jets have been waiting for Smith to develop into, and they want to see him continue to progress against Miami. A second straight turnover free game would be a huge plus for Smith, as would a solid day passing. The Jets don’t need him to be a star right now, they just want proof that he is the right player for the future.

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Jets Looks to Spoil Dolphins' Playoff Hopes

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The Dolphins are in a four way race for the final AFC Wild Card Spot, and the Jets would love to ruin their rivals’ chances. The Dolphins have several tiebreakers in their favor, but a loss to the Jets would be a big blow.

Winning this game would be a huge morale boost for the Jets, and it would send them into the offseason with a positive mental state. They will play hard for Ryan, and the extra motivation of knocking out one of their biggest rivals only adds intrigue. The Jets may not have anything to play for as a team, but taking out the Dolphins is a goal they’ve set for themselves.

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Last Game With Jets for Several Players

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

This game will be the last with the Jets for several players, either due to the end of contracts or the likelihood of release. Ed Reed, Kellen Winslow, and Vladimir Ducasse are among the players who won’t be re-signed, while Jeff Cumberland, Calvin Pace and Willie Colon head the list of players with questionable futures with the team.

Santonio Holmes will also be playing his last game with the team, as he is a near certainty to be released. The Jets and their fans will not miss Holmes, who has proven to be far more trouble than he’s worth. One other player who will be spending his last game with the Jets is Mark Sanchez, who of course will not play. Sanchez was once viewed as a franchise quarterback, and this will be a disappointing ending to his time with the Jets.

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Last Chance for Rex Ryan to Earn New Contract

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan’s job status has been a major question mark for the entire season, and there is still no clarity as the Jets prepare for their season finale. Ryan told his team last week that he expected to be fired, but that was likely more motivational ploy than actual fact.

Idzik may want to bring in his own coach, but Ryan has made a strong case to be retained. He has completely exceeded expectations this season, and the team is completely loyal to him. Keeping Ryan would also give the Jets continuity, which is rare in today’s NFL. A win in the final week could be the tipping point for Ryan returning as head coach.

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Can Jets Avoid Third Straight Losing Season?

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, one of the biggest reasons the Jets could fire Ryan is the fact that this could be their third straight losing season. That is plenty of cause for NFL coaches to be fired, so a loss could be the end of Ryan. However, a win would put the Jets at 8-8, which would be a solid building point for the future.

Going .500 would be a huge accomplishment for this team, as it lacks talent at several key positions and is starting a rookie quarterback. The Jets have made a living off surprising people this season, and beating the Dolphins would be one more. 8-8 sounds a lot better than 7-9, and the Jets want to achieve that goal.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google