It should be a perfect early October afternoon for pro football in North Jersey when the Jets host their longtime rivals, the Miami Dolphins, at MetLife Stadium, with kickoff set for a few minutes after 1 p.m. ET.
The temperatures will be around 60, the winds gusting to 20 mph and the sun shining brightly on the Jets' attempt to improve to 3-2 and over .500 for the first time this late in a season since 2017 and end their 12-game AFC East losing skid by dropping the fast-starting Dolphins down to 3-2 as well.
Miami has already played two games in the AFC East, both at home and both victories, by 20-7 over New England on opening day and by 21-19 over Buffalo. But they suffered their first loss last Thursday night at Cincinnati, 27-12.
None of that would bode well for the Jets, except that the Dolphins, even though rested and refocused from that loss, come in with some health issues that could impact today's game in the home team's favor.
Miami HC Mike McDaniel knew early on that starting QB Tua Tagovailoa (concussion) would be inactive. Teddy Bridgewater gets the start, and in fact Bridgewater, who was on the Jets' roster for the 2018 offseason and preseason, will be starting his third game against the Jets for his third different team. He forged wins as Minnesota's QB in 2014 and as Denver's starter last year.
The big mystery involved the status of the Dolphins' top two WRs, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle.
Hill, the NFL's receiving yardage leader, suffered a quadriceps injury at Wednesday's practice, was limited the rest of the week and questionable for the game. Waddle, who had a groin injury, was limited Thursday and Friday and also questionable. Both are active for the game.
See the players arriving for the Week 5 game.
Despite the question marks regarding their two key pass-catchers to contribute, this game could still be an offensive display on both sides. Bridgewater is one of the NFL's top backups with a career starting record of 33-30 and a career passer rating of 90.5, with a 111.7 rating in his two wins over the Green & White. TE Mike Gesicki has had strong games vs. the Jets and RB Raheem Mostert, with the 49ers in 2020, opened the Jets' season opener that year with an 80-yard TD run.
But the Jets should be ready to match and surpass any point production the Dolphins hang up on the MetLife scoreboards. Wilson, coming off leading two TD drives to the 24-20 comeback win at Pittsburgh in his first game of the season, will get start No. 2 with a full contingent of players at his skill positions.
Wilson is also expected to get the return of veteran Duane Brown to the offensive line picture. Brown was signed in August with the expectation he would move in as the left tackle starter following Mekhi Becton's season-ending knee injury. But Brown sustained a shoulder injury and spent the first four weeks on IR. He began practicing again this past week, was activated Saturday, is active today and figures to make his Jets debut at LT, with Alijah Vera-Tucker returning to the right side of the line.
If his protection is true, Wilson can take aim with throws to Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson and Tyler Conklin plus rush/pass contributions from Michael Carter and Breece Hall, against a Miami defense that is ranked 28th overall, 31st vs. the pass, 30th in third-down defense and 32nd in 3-and-out drive defense at 5%.
And the Dolphins aren't helped by top CB Xavien Howard (groin) being among Miami's inactives.
This is the Jets' six-player inactive list (starting RT Max Mitchell (ankle) is not listed after being moved to Injured Reserve):
- QB Mike White
- WR Denzel Mims
- S Tony Adams
- CB Bryce Hall
- LB Quincy Williams
- TE Lawrence Cager
And this is Miami's six-man inactive list:
- QB Tua Tagovailoa
- WR Erik Ezukanma
- CB Xavien Howard
- RB Salvon Ahmed
- TE Hunter Long
- LB Trey Flowers