Miami Dolphins on Playoff Bubble, Starting Rookie QB Skylar Thompson
The Miami Dolphins are down to their third-string quarterback, rookie Skylar Thompson, when they meet the New York Jets in Week 18 with a AFC Wild Card berth on the line.
Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel has no choice but to start Thompson. Starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is out with a concussion, and backup Teddy Bridgewater dislocated the pinkie finger on his throwing hand.
Bridgewater suffered a finger injury in Week 17’s loss against the New England Patriots. The injury was initially diagnosed as fractured finger, but further tests revealed there was not a microfracture, and he just had only sustained a dislocation. The pinkie injury impacts how he throws the ball, so Bridgewater will not play in Week 18.
AFC Wild Card Scenarios: Dolphins in Must-Win Spot
Even with a rookie under center against the Jets, the Dolphins are -3 favorites at home at Hard Rock Stadium. It’s a revenge game for the Dolphins, who lost their first meeting against the Jets in Week 5. The Jets won a blowout, 40-7, on their home turf at MetLife Stadium.
In moneyline action at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, the Dolphins are -185 favorites, while the Jets are +165 underdogs .
Oddsmakers expect a low-scoring game with a points total of 37 over/under. Out of 16 games on the Week 18 slate, the Jets/Dolphins are the lowest point total on the betting board.
FiveThirtyEight projected the Dolphins (8-8) have a 32% chance to secure an AFC Wild Card berth. The Dolphins can seize the #7 playoff seed in the AFC if they defeat the Jets, but they also need the Buffalo Bills to defeat the New England Patriots (8-8). The Bills are -7.5 favorites against the Patriots in Week 18.
The Patriots currently occupy the #7 seed, and FiveThirtyEight projected they have a 35% chance to retain their spot and advance to the postseason.
If the Dolphins and Patriots both lose, and the Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) defeat the Cleveland Browns, then Steelers can sneak into the backdoor of the AFC Wild Card. The Steelers have a 28% chance to advance to the AFC playoffs as the #7 seed, according to FiveThirtyEight.
If the Patriots lose to the Bills, and the Dolphins and Steelers both win their matchups, the Dolphins will secure the final AFC Wild Card because they hold a tiebreaker over the Steelers.
Third-String Thompson Tapped for Second Start
Thompson started one game this season, but the rookie from Kansas State came off the bench twice to finish games for an injured Bridgewater. He completed 40-for-74 passes for a 54.1% completion rate this season. He tallied 382 passing yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He was also sacked five times.
Thompson practiced with the first unit this week to gear up for his second start of the season. Thompson played most of the Dolphins’ first game against the Jets during a relief stint in Week 5. At the least, he’s familiar with their Jets’ tough defense that only allows 19.1 points per game and ranked #4 overall in scoring defense.
The Dolphins had bad injury luck with their quarterbacks this season. Tagovailoa suffered a serious head injury and concussion in Week 4. Bridgewater replaced Tagovailoa as the starter in Week 5 against the Jets, but was knocked out of the game in the first quarter due to a concussion.
Thompson earned a baptism by fire against the Jets. He completed 19-for-33 passes in his first real NFL action. He passed for 166 yards, one interception, and zero touchdowns in a crushing defeat.
Thompson came off the bench to fill in for Bridgewater against the Patriots in Week 17. He completed 12-for-21 passes for 104 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.
During his only start this season in Week 6, Thompson and the Dolphins lost to the Minnesota Vikings. He struggled in the 24-16 loss against the Vikings. He completed only 7-for-13 passes for 89 yards, and did not throw any touchdowns or interceptions.
Jets Also Shuffle the QB Deck, Flacco to Start
The Jets (7-9) have been eliminated from playoff contention, but they’d love to play the role of spoiler against a division rival.
The Jets had their own quarterback controversy this season. Starting quarterback Zach Wilson was benched due to his awful play and horrible leadership abilities. Head coach Robert Saleh promoted Mike White as the starter in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears. White started three games, and the Jets’ offense looked much better versus Wilson’s ineffective play. However, White suffered a ribs injury against the Buffalo Bills in Week 14.
Wilson returned as he starter in Week 15. He lost the next three games, and the Jets saw their losing streak extend to five in a row.
Saleh decided to start veteran Joey Flacco against the Dolphins in Week 18. Wilson got demoted to third string, and Chris Streveler will handle backup duties.
Flacco started the first three games this season while Wilson recovered from a minor knee injury. The Jets were 1-2 with Flacco as the starter in the first three weeks of the season. He completed 58.2% of his passes for 902 yards. He threw five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Over the last three seasons as a backup with the Jets, Flacco started eight games and posted a 1-7 record. Flacco spent the first 11 season of his career with the Baltimore Ravens, where he went 96-67 as a starter. This could be Flacco’s final game with the Jets, but he’d like to go out with a bang by upsetting the Dolphins.
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