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Jets-Dolphins: Who Will Land the First Punch?

As Young Jets Start to Fly, Powell & Harris Remain Standouts


Fast & the Furious: At the onset of their past two games, the Jets have found themselves on the ropes. The Colts scored on their first two possessions in Week 13, taking a 14-0 lead and they repeatedly landed flurries from there in a 41-10 road triumph. Then last Sunday, the 49ers streaked out to a 14-0 advantage before the game was five minutes old. But this time around, the Green & White excelled as the counterpuncher and eventually captured a 23-17 win in overtime.

Now with a division rival in town, can the Jets be the ones to strike early and make the Dolphins play from behind?  The Jets feel like they let one slip through fingers down in South Florida back in Week 9 as Kenyan Drake's 96-yard kickoff return was the difference-maker in a 27-23 contest.

"I don't think we have to do anything different," said QB Bryce Petty. "I think we just have to trust in the game plan, trust in our preparation and not let something bad happen before we get good and to come out and try to throw the first punch, metaphorically not literally. It's definitely important for us to start fast and get points on the board. That way defense can do what they do, which is go and attack."

Moore Bryce: While the Jets are getting an extended look at Petty over the season's final quarter, the Dolphins have turned to Matt Moore after Ryan Tannehill suffered a partially torn ACL and MCL in his left knee last Sunday against Arizona. Moore hasn't started a game in five years as he helped a Todd Bowles-led Dolphins club to a 19-17 victory over the Jets in Week 17 of the 2011 season while completing 22 of 32 for 135 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs. But the last time Moore started against the Jets at MetLife Stadium led to much different results. The Jets trounced the Dolphins by a 24-6 score as CB Darrelle Revis had a pair of picks including one he returned 100 yards for a TD.

"I think I've filled my role the best I could and I've had opportunities to play and it's gone well," Moore said. "There have been some tough times. There have been some good times, and this is another opportunity. I'm lucky I'm surrounded with a great team."

29 vs. 30: Fresh off a 145-yard, 2 TD ground effort against the 49ers, Bilal Powell will take aim at the NFL's 30th ranked rush defense (133.8 yards per game). The Dolphins own a solid defensive front, but they are dealing with injuries at linebacker. The dynamic Powell can beat you in a number of ways as his 42 receptions are third on the team and rank firth among AFC running backs. He needs just five catches to tie his career high of 47, which he set last season. Eighteen of Powell's receptions (43%) have come on third down and he's converted seven into first downs.

"Whenever my number is called, I just try to take full advantage of my opportunity," says Powell.

Shell Station: Brandon Shell, a fifth-round pick from South Carolina, could be in line to make his first NFL start Saturday night. The great nephew of Hall of Famer Art Shell, Shell manned the RT spot for eight snaps against the 49ers after Brent Qvale went down with an ankle injury. Veteran Breno Giacomini, who was limited to five games this season, was shut down this week after his nagging black would not comply.  Last April, the Jets traded a fourth-round pick in 2017 in order to grab Shell. They believe they potentially will have a fourth-rounder next year in terms of a compensatory pick. The 6'5", 324-pound Shell is a long, athletic tackle who started his last 47 games of his collegiate career for the Gamecocks.

Center Switch: It's next man up in the middle for both the Jets and the Dolphins. Wesley Johnson has played well for the Green & White throughout the season, having already started five games in place of Nick Mangold. Meanwhile Anthony Steen will get to work with Moore in primetime because Mike Pouncey was placed on injured reserve after being unable to overcome a nagging hip injury. Many people would contend that Pouncey is Miami's top OL and Steen will probably see a lot of Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson on Saturday.


Generation Next:  The Jets are certainly getting some run out of their draft class. While Shell would start at tackle, first-round pick Darron Lee, third-round selection Jordan Jenkins and fourth-rounder Juston Burris all will see plenty of action under the lights. Burris, used primarily as a special teams contributor as a rookie, played very well at corner last week and he is expected to receive plenty of reps there again in Week 15.

"For his first time out, in the system, we are very pleased with him," said defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers of Burris. "The thing you like to see is you talk about making plays. We had one coverage where he was locked up man down the field and he made a play on the ball. He competed all day long. I thought he did really well."

On the offensive side, Robby Anderson ranks T6 among rookie receivers in yards (464) and his 13.6-yard catch average ranks third among rookie WRs with at least 20 receptions. Anderson was an undrafted free agent find from Temple.

Century Mark: Last week, he surpassed Mo Lewis for second place on the franchise's all-time tackles list. With 12 tackles this week, David Harris will reach 100 for ninth time in 10 seasons.

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