The NFL has been tied to Thanksgiving for almost 90 years, but this season, a Turkey Day tripleheader wasn't enough. No, in 2023, the NFL will also debut its first-ever Black Friday contest. A day after three different divisional matchups ring in the holiday weekend, the Dolphins and Jets will square off in the first AFC East tilt of its kind, on Prime Video.
It's a pivotal showdown for both sides. Miami is atop the division at 7-3, fresh off a close win over the Raiders. But the Dolphins have the Bills right behind them in the East, and Mike McDaniel's explosive offense hasn't been nearly as smooth against the NFL's best defenses, which New York happens to boast. The Jets, meanwhile, are turning away from Zach Wilson at quarterback for the first time this year, desperate to stay alive as Aaron Rodgers eyes a historic comeback from injury.
Which AFC East foe will step up to seize the Black Friday spotlight? And how can you tune in? Here's everything you need to know, including key matchups and a game prediction:
How to watch
- When: Friday, Nov. 24 | 3 p.m. ET
- Location: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, New Jersey)
- Stream: Prime Video, NFL+
- Odds: Dolphins -9.5, O/U 40.5 (via SportsLine consensus odds)
Keys to the game
- What can Tim Boyle offer? After nearly 10 full games of Wilson under center, the Jets are finally calling on someone else to hold down the fort until a potential Rodgers return. But is Boyle any better? The former Packers and Lions reserve is 0-3 as a starter in his five-year career, and he struggled to hit 50% of his throws after replacing Wilson in Week 11. If anything, perhaps he'll be a bit more willing to push the ball downfield, which could benefit No. 1 wideout Garrett Wilson.
- Can Sauce Gardner slow Tyreek Hill? The Jets' cornerback duo of Gardner and D.J. Reed has reportedly allowed just two touchdowns to opposing wideouts this year, whereas Hill easily leads the NFL with 1,222 receiving yards. If New York wants to have any chance in this game, it'll have to bottle up the "Cheetah" in some respect. It's not impossible; the Chiefs and Eagles both kept him relatively under wraps earlier this year. But this matchup on the outside will be one to monitor.
- Who will headline the Dolphins backfield? Miami boasts the No. 2 rushing offense in the NFL, but electric rookie De'Von Achane is reportedly a long shot to suit up with a lingering knee injury, starter Raheem Mostert was limited in practice to start the week with ankle and knee issues of his own, and reserve Salvon Ahmed just landed on injured reserve. That leaves Jeff Wilson, who's taken all of seven carries this year, as the only fully healthy option. Look for him to spell Mostert.
The Jets are Mike White wasn't necessarily consistent as Wilson's replacement late in 2022, but his mere promotion sparked belief from the offense.. That may be true. Certainly Robert Saleh's defense still has something to offer, entering Friday's matchup ranked No. 5 against the pass and surrendering just over 20 points per game. And the motivation that might come from Wilson's latest demotion at QB isn't something to be dismissed. Remember that
There's also the fact the Dolphins remain banged up, especially in the trenches, where Terron Armstead, Austin Jackson, Robert Jones and Robert Hunt are all battling injuries. All that said, it's hard to see the glaring disparity between offensive firepower and expect Boyle to suddenly elevate the Jets into shootout material. Miami's secondary has gotten a recent lift from the opportunistic Jalen Ramsey, and Vic Fangio's unit is also underrated against the run (No. 10).
Will Saleh's front get after Tua Tagovailoa enough to force a few three-and-outs and keep this closer than it ought to be? Sure, that's not out of the question. But at the end of the day, you also have to score points to win. And unless Saleh's "D" is also doing that multiple times, we expect the Dolphins to reaffirm their AFC East lead going into the weekend.
Score: Dolphins 26, Jets 16