Dolphins can ground Jets

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looks at the scoreboard after throwing an interception...

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez looks at the scoreboard after throwing an interception against the New York Giants in the fourth quarter during their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey December 24, 2011. (REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

Mike Rutsey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:09 PM ET

Call it hate, call it dislike, if used properly it can become a powerful motivating tool when two teams line up against each other.

With nothing on the line as far as a playoff possibility for the Miami Dolphins this Sunday, the Fish will still be sky high for their home game against the New York Jets.

Nothing would please the Dolphins more than to send the Jets and their loudmouth coach Rex Ryan crashing to the sidelines on the final day of the regular season.

The 8-7 Jets, losers of their past two games, are fighting for their playoff lives and need a victory over Miami and a lot of help in other games to advance as the sixth and final seed in the AFC playoffs.

The Dolphins would like nothing better than to deny them that opportunity.

“As a Dolphin, that’s all you want to do is shatter their dreams,” Miami defensive lineman Kendall Langford said recently. “I’m sure the fans would love it, too. I’m sure the New York fans would hate it.”

He’s right on both counts.

Although the Dolphins are just 5-10 they have played tough and hard throughout the season and are 5-3 in their past eight games. The Jets pounded them 24-6 in Week 6 but Miami has improved a lot since then.

“To be in a position, No. 1, where you can play in a football game and No. 2, win a football game and affect the outcome of a season of a rival, obviously, yeah, that’s motivation,” said Dolphins defensive end Jared Odrick. “But we’re playing for us. We’re going out to accomplish what we want to do.”

On Friday, the Dolphins’ goal of downing the Jets got a little tougher when running back Reggie Bush was scratched with a right knee injury.

The loss of Bush can only lift the Jets’ spirits.

Bush has put together a terrific season for Miami after coming over from New Orleans following a number of disappointing seasons.

Bush is the Dolphins’ leading rusher, with 216 carries for 1,086 yards, and their third-leading receiver, with 43 catches. He has gained steam as the season has marched on and had put together a streak of four consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

It’s something for the Jets to hang their hat on as they look for a miracle finish to a sub-par season.

LONG AND WINDING ROAD

With an 8-7 record, the Tennessee Titans are one of several AFC teams that still have a shot at making the playoffs as a wild-card entry.

It all begins with a victory, of course, and on Sunday the Titans will have to beat the Houston Texans on the road.

Despite the fact the Texans have won the AFC South, they are vulnerable as they have lost two in a row — to Carolina and Indianapolis no less — with quarterback T.J. Yates and the offence appearing to regress with each game.

As it now stands, the Cincinnati Bengals hold the sixth and final playoff spot with a 9-6 record. Unfortunately for the Bengals, they are playing the Baltimore Ravens, who need a victory to secure the AFC North title.

If the Bengals lose and Titans win, both teams would be 9-7 with the Bengals holding the tiebreaker due to their 24-17 victory in head-to-head competition.

The Titans, though, can still manage to advance.

For that to happen the Titans would need a Bengals loss and either the New York Jets or Oakland Raiders to also win and also finish at 9-7.

Under that scenario, the Bengals would lose out as they trail in the conference record tiebreaker. The Titans, Raiders and Jets if they win, would all be 7-5 in conference play so you would have to go to the next tiebreaker which is the record vs. common opponents and in that tiebreaker the Titans come out on top.

It’s a longshot but better than no shot at all.

QUICK HITS

The Cleveland Browns officially ruled quarterback Colt McCoy out for Sunday’s rematch against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Seneca Wallace will instead make the start. The 4-11 Browns have been a disappointment and that includes the play of McCoy. On the season, McCoy completed 57.2% of his passes for 2,733 yards. He tossed 14 touchdown passes but also threw 11 interceptions. The feeling in Cleveland is that the Browns will once again be on the lookout for a franchise quarterback in the draft ... Running back LeSean McCoy of the Philadelphia Eagles has been limited in practice this week due to an ankle injury but will definitely start in Sunday’s final game against Washington. With 1,309 rushing yards, McCoy and the Eagles will be gunning for him to catch and pass Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew for the overall rushing title. Jones-Drew holds a 128-yard lead, which may prove to be too formidable. A more realistic goal for McCoy is the Eagles’ rushing record. He needs 124 yards to surpass the franchise record held by Wilbert Montgomery — 1,512 yards set in 1979.

WIN OR LOSE, GARRETT’S BACK

Jerry Jones isn’t God even though he may think he is.

Still, the flamboyant owner of the Dallas Cowboys on Friday said emphatically that quarterback Tony Romo will be ready to rumble in Sunday night’s showdown against the New York Giants.

If Jones said it, then it has to be true.

“Romo is where we had dreamed that he would be and hoped he would be relative to after his injury last week,” Jones said on his radio show Friday.

“He’s going to be playing at full strength,” Jones added. “He has a very good team around him, so the stage is set to play well in a big game.”

The latter statements by Jones could be just so much wishful thinking.

Jones’ proclamations didn’t stop there as he went on to state that win or lose, Jason Garrett will return as the Cowboys’ coach in 2012.

“That’s just ridiculous. We’re just getting started with Jason,” Jones said. “It’s just not the case at all. Nobody is worried about the coach’s job here. We’ll answer this thing as many ways as you want to answer it with as many circumstances, his job has no bearing and is not a part of this ball game. Yes, he’s going to be our coach next year period no matter what the score is.”

Straight from the horse’s mouth.

 


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