The 0-2 Miami Dolphins will seek to put a tough start to the new season behind them when they make the short trip to Florida rivals Jacksonville, who sit at 1-1 after a surprisingly good start to their 2020 campaign (Jacksonville 8/13, Miami 13/10 – Money Line).
Neither of Sunshine State’s franchises were expected to be anywhere near playoff contention this year with the Jaguars in full rebuild mode, while the Dolphins are adapting to having made wholesale changes on both sides of the ball.
While the Fins have followed the pre-season script, going down to defeat to AFC East rivals the New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills in the first two weeks, the Jags have youthful exuberance with the youngest team in the NFL out-performing expectations.
The AFC South side defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1 before just falling short against the Tennessee Titans last Sunday with the offence, lead by second-year quarterback Gardner Minshew II, proving explosive on both occasions.
The Jags are currently averaging 28.5 points per game this season – eighth-most in the NFL – with Minshew throwing six touchdowns, the joint-highest amongst AFC quarterbacks (Over 48.5 points 10/11 – Total Points).
Minshew’s favourite target thus far has been DJ Chark but he could have to do without his number one wide receiver on Thursday as he struggles to overcome a chest injury. The Jags are also without injured place-kicker Josh Lambo, who has made 74 of 78 field-goal attempts since signing for the team.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins will not have the NFL’s highest-paid cornerback Byron Jones due to a groin issue.
Jones was one of several highest-priced additions Miami made to the defence during the off-season but they haven’t clicked as yet, giving up over 800 yards through two games.
Despite their issues, Jags offensive coordinator Jay Gruden says he’s had to tweak his gameplan to prepare for what the Dolphins might throw at them.
“Going up against Miami, they’re a different style of defense, so that calls for a different style of plays, but being a short week we want to also make sure these guys know what to do so they can play fast,’ said Gruden.
There is better news on offence for Miami with No.1 wide receiver DeVante Parker (10/1 – First TD Scorer) cleared to play against the Jags, who have won the last two meetings with their Florida counterparts.