Key stat: Jacksonville and Miami rank 31st and 32nd in pass defense DVOA, per Football Outsiders
Thursday Night Football brings a matchup of two similar teams, both in rebuilds, located in the same state. But the most important commonality between these squads is their quarterbacks, as Ryan Fitzpatrick and Gardner Minshew are both the type of competitive gunslinger that is sure to create excitement, whether because their gambles pay off or they get out in front of their own talent and risky decisions become costly ones.
In Week 2, both the Dolphins and Jaguars lost by 3 points in games that totaled 59 and 63 points. Fitzpatrick threw for 328 yards and two touchdowns in his failed comeback bid, while Minshew went for 339 and three. Whichever team takes an early lead in this game, we can be sure the trailing offense will dial up the pass volume in an attempt to get back into it.
The other important similarity is both of these pass defenses got absolutely carved up last week. Ryan Tannehill threw for 239 yards and four touchdowns on just 24 attempts against Jacksonville, while Josh Allen broke his previous career high in passing yardage by more than 100 when he threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns of his own against Miami. Neither unit was much better in Week 1, and through two games they rank among the worst pass defenses in the league in almost any relevant metric.
Now both defenses are on short rest after those high-scoring matchups Sunday. The Dolphins will also be without a key free agent addition from this offseason, cornerback Byron Jones, who is out with a groin injury. That will mean further vulnerability in what has been a weak spot.
Both of these offenses are somewhere close to the middle of the pack, certainly not among the league’s worst. They will each have an advantage Thursday night, and we know that each team will turn up the tempo and go pass-heavy if they trail by a significant margin. Jacksonville showed a willingness to play at a pretty slow pace en route to a Week 1 win, so there’s some mild concern they could cut some possessions out of the game if they jump out to an early lead at home, but even that scenario leaves the door open for Ryan Fitzpatrick to conjure up some FitzMagic.
And if the Dolphins jump out ahead, it should be wheels up from both teams. Miami hasn’t run a single play with a lead yet in 2020, but in 2019 no team passed the ball a higher percentage of the time while they had a win probability over 75%.
What we have is two offenses willing to call pass plays, two quarterbacks willing to air it out, and two pass defenses on short rest that have been terrible at stopping the pass. I’m not overthinking it.
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After last week's injury spree we're hoping for a safer and more easy to predict week this week. Ben Gretch will be providing his exclusive picks for each and every NFL Prime Time game this week, Packers at Saints on Sunday Night Football and Chiefs at Ravens on Monday Night Football.