AROUND THE LEAGUE

Miami Dolphins fans can take solace in New York Jets’ misery

 

gcote@MiamiHerald.com

Miami Dolphins fans worried about the team’s playoff chances — which would have risen to marginal if Thursday night’s game in Orchard Park, N.Y., was won and sunk to remote with a loss — surely can find solace in the extreme turbulence battering the hated, Stinkin’ Jets.

NYJ is 3-6 entering Sunday’s game, and, despite Rex Ryan’s irrationally confident bluster, no team has made the playoffs with that nine-game record since 1996.

It isn’t just the record, of course. It is the quarterback mess, with Mark Sanchez reminding us again he isn’t very good and Tim Tebow continuing to be even worse — but leading the league in Distraction.

This week, the New York Daily News quoted anonymous players criticizing Tebow, one calling him “terrible.” Ryan called the unnamed players “cowards.”

Tebow admitted it frustrated him. Owner Woody Johnson said he is “not happy.” And running back Shonn Greene said, “Something’s got to change” — seeming to suggest he had a QB change in mind but later denying that.

The man caught in the middle of the mess: Our own Tony Sparano, the first-year offensive coordinator with two bad QBs and an offense ranked 24th in scoring average, 27th in passing and 30th in overall offensive yards.

Those are slightly worse than the figures that got Brian Schottenheimer fired last year. Schottenheimer is now offensive coordinator for the Rams, whom the Jets visit Sunday.

Meantime, Ryan has given Sparano a vote of confidence. (Uh-oh.)

Poor Tony. The Dolphins embarrassed him by publicly wooing his replacement before ultimately firing him. Who could imagine the turmoil here would lead him to the turbulence that awaited?

Scatter-shooting the league:

• Our weekly updated playoff outlook, entering Week 11:

Via makenflplayoffs.com: AFC top six — Texans 98.7 percent, Ravens 92.9, Patriots 83.5, Broncos 83.2, Colts 74.2 and Steelers 68.3 (Dolphins eighth at 22.7). NFC top six — Falcons 93.9, Bears 80.1, 49ers 77.2, Giants 66.9, Packers 61.8 and Seahawks 49.3.

Via ESPN/numberfire.com: AFC — Texans 99.9, Broncos 99.2, Patriots 97.8, Ravens 94.0, Steelers 82.0 and Colts 63.0 (with Dolphins ninth at 8.4). NFC — Falcons 97.2, Packers 89.6, 49ers 87.7, Bears 81.2, Giants 65.6 and Seahawks 53.3.

• Two Dolphins — tackle Jake Long and punter Brandon Fields — lead in early AFC Pro Bowl voting at their position, Long by habit and Fields deservedly. Also in the top five so far: DE Cam Wake (third), RB Reggie Bush (fifth) and DT Randy Starks (fifth).

• Betting odds on a Super Bowl favorite remain bunched, via Bovada, with Texans on top at 19-4, then Patriots and Broncos both 6-1. It’s highly unusual for the three favorites to be from the same conference. Then NFC weighs in with Niners and Packers both 15-2 and Falcons 9-1.

• Steelers have had more passing yards than their opponent in 16 consecutive home games, tying the 2000-01 Rams for longest such streak ever. But that will be in jeopardy Sunday with Ben Roethlisberger out and Byron Leftwich starting.

• Drew Brees (3,114 with Saints, 2006) and Drew Bledsoe (3,027 with Bills, 2002) are the only QBs to surpass 3,000 yards in their first 10 games with a team, but Peyton Manning (2,705 with Broncos in nine games) has a chance to join the list Sunday.

• Is winning close games an accurate gauge of success? Consider: The five teams with the best records in one-score results this year — Texans, 49ers, Falcons, Colts and Ravens at a combined 20-3-1 — are 35-9-1 overall.

• Denver’s Von Miller has 21 1/2 sacks in his first 24 NFL games. Most in one’s first 25 games is 25 by Miami native Derrick Thomas.

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