NEW YORK–Every week is pretty much a playoff game for the Dolphins now. They’re tied with Denver for the sixth spot in the AFC and likely have to sweep their final three to make the postseason.
The first step is fairly manageable: Beat the hapless New York Jets.
Here are seven Miami players to watch Saturday night:
1. QB Matt Moore
There’s a lot to like about Moore as the back-up quarterback, but here’s one factor that has to give the Dolphins caution: He hasn’t started a game since 2011 and prior to last weekend hadn’t taken a snap since Oct. 25, 2015. Now he’s being thrown into what figures to be a sloppy, cold weather game.
2. LB Kiko Alonso
Alonso is playing with a broken thumb on his right hand, but apparently that’s no big deal. His real issue has been a pulled hamstring, which kept him out last weekend. Alonso has been active in practice this week and said he plans on playing, but it’s hard to predict how effective he’ll be.
3. RB Jay Ajayi
It’s been five games since Ajayi last broke 80 yards. He’s had some decent performances in there, notably the 61 yards on a meager 12 carries in Baltimore, and could be the heart of the offense again this week with Miami playing a back-up quarterback in less than ideal passing weather.
4. K Andrew Franks
Franks has been solid this year, hitting all 31 extra points and 14 of 18 field goals, but the Dolphins seem hesitant to try him at long distances, and it’ll be interesting to see how they handle him in adverse conditions Saturday. Will they shorten up his maximum range for an attempt? That might prompt them to take some chances on fourth downs.
5. C Anthony Steen
Pro Football Focus grades Steen as one of the worst centers in the NFL. Keep in mind, he’s playing through a neck issue and a major ankle injury. The ankle is a big hindrance for him because it affects his lateral mobility. He’s trying to overcome it, but it hasn’t gone well so far. If he struggles, look for Miami to try Kraig Urbik in his spot.
6. WR Kenny Stills
Few players have turned their season around better than Stills. He opened the year with an embarrassing drop on a would-be touchdown at Seattle and averaged 36.2 yards per game over the first six. He’s been much more productive, reasserted himself as a reliable deep threat and is coming off a game in which he had six catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
7. CB Byron Maxwell
Round 2 of Maxwell vs. Brandon Marshall is here. After Marshall scorched Maxwell to the media before their first meeting this year, the Dolphins had him track Marshall the entire game. Maxwell held him to 46 yards on five catches out of eight targets.
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