The Jets are 4-9 and have suffered an emergency room full of injuries this season, and are playing after back-to-back short weeks for the first time since 1985.
But they're not dragging themselves to the '16 finish line. And why should they? They're energized from last week's come-from-behind win at San Francisco, they're back home at MetLife, they're the only NFL game in town on a perhaps snowy/rainy Saturday night, Bryce Petty is starting his third pro game.
And the opponents are the playoff-hopeful 8-5 Dolphins.
"Definitely, there will be nerves," said Petty, who overcame his early butterflies to direct the nifty comeback effort over the 49ers.
Rontez Miles, making his third pro start at safety, for the IR'd Marcus Gilchrist, says there will be more than jitters.
"We want to win. We plan on going in there to win. Every game you want to win," Miles said. "It's all divisionals the last three, so it's going to be fun and it's going to be interesting."
Here are seven more points pertinent to the Jets' and Dolphins' version of Saturday night fever at MetLife:
1. 'Fins AgainThe Jets ended the Dolphins' short win streak in North Jersey with last year's 38-20 verdict built on four Ryan Fitzpatrick TD passes, two to Brandon Marshall. The 'Fins returned the favor, ending the Green & White's South Florida streak with last month's 27-23 victory. The Green & White still lead the rivalry at home all-time, 28-22. That includes a 20-6 loss to the Dolphins at Shea Stadium on a Saturday night in 1970. But recently the Jets have felt right at home on Saturday night, winning their last three, all on the road — the '04 and '10 playoff games at San Diego and Indianapolis respectively and last year's 19-16 comeback at Dallas.
A Look Back at the History Between Two AFC East Foes
2. OK Corral?Some are already throwing the "gunslinger" designation around for Petty. Matt Moore, starting for the injured Ryan Tannehill, has been given that label for a while. Jets HC Todd Bowles and DC Kacy Rodgers were on Miami's staff in 2012, and Rodgers said this week, "The thing about Matt is he's competitive and he's never seen a throw he didn't like." Moore's not offended whether it's his coaches or his former coaches calling him a gunslinger. "I think it's a compliment," he said.
3. Capping Moore's ProductionMoore, who went 1-1 as a starter vs. the Jets in 2011 and got the save in long relief of then-rookie Tannehill at MetLife in '12, could be distracted as a new daddy this week, not to mention rusty with no starts and 19 passes the past five years. The Jets pass defense would like to treat him the way they treated Colin Kaepernick over the last 50 minutes of Sunday's game, when the 49ers QB was held to 8-for-19 passing, 21 net yards, no completion over 9 yards, and a 49.7 rating.
4. Protecting PettyBryce vows to be ready for the Miami pass rush after getting sacked six times by the Niners. That could be easier said than done with the Jets' fluid RT situation vs. LDE Cameron Wake, 10th in the NFL with 9.5 sacks. Breno Giacomini is on IR, Brent Qvale has a sore hamstring, and rookie Brandon Shell has only 10 offensive plays all season. However, more than half of those Shell snaps came in the OT at SF and he looked the part. Regardless, Bowles says, "You can't be scared. ... If he has to play, we have all our guys ready to play."
5. Going to GroundBecause of their QB situations, both teams figure to try to win the ground war. For the Jets, Bilal Powell, off his monster Niners game, is ready to replace or augment the injured Matt Forte against a Miami run defense that is 30th in yards/game and 31st in yards/carry and with some banged-up 'backers in Kiko Alonso and Jelani Jenkins. The Jets run defense, meanwhile, was No. 1 in the NFL allowing 74.0 yards/game going into their November meeting with Jay Ajayi and the Dolphins. Even though they held Ajayi well under 200, that game began a stretch of six weeks in which they've slumped to 30th in the league yielding 148.0 yards/game.
6. Return Turnabout?The Jets had easily their best field position game in a month at San Fran. Now they need to do it again vs. Miami, which ruined their comeback effort at Hard Rock Stadium last month on rookie Kenyan Drake's 96-yard kickoff-return TD. That's affected the Green & White's KO coverage, which is 30th in the NFL in yards/return allowed. "I'm a prideful guy — it sure as hell hurts," ST coordinator Brant Boyer said of that return, the video of which he showed to his troops twice this week to get them ready to protect their home turf in the rematch.
7. Streaks That Must EndThe Jets are still the NFL's 32nd-ranked team in terms of points scored in the last two minutes of halves, but they took a step toward correcting that with Nick Folk's clutch 50-yard field goal in the last minute of regulation at SF. Here are some more streaks they want to end: Five games (176 passes) without an interception, five games with a minus turnover margin, 48 games without a defensive or special teams return TD. A holiday treat here would be nice, something like Darrelle Revis' 100-yard return of a Moore interception in the 2011 Jets-'Fins MNF meeting.