All I want for Christmas is a Miami Dolphins win this weekend over the N.Y. Jets.
And the person who may help me get my wish is Chad Pennington, the quarterback that the Dolphins plucked off the Jets trash heap. Pennington has had an amazing season – a 67 percent completion percentage, the second-highest quarterback rating in the NFL, and more than 3,400 yards passing – while leading the Dolphins to a 10-5 record.
How can it be that Pennington didn’t make the Pro Bowl? He got beat out by Brett Favre, Jay Cutler and Peyton Manning. It would be easy to blame this on the fans, but they only account for a third of the vote. Pennington got the snub from sportswriters, the talking heads on the NFL.com website, and most of those who discount anything outside the L.A.-N.Y. axis.
And even in the Pro Bowl fallout, some people expressed more concern over Philip Rivers not making the team than the Pennington snub. It’s a complete travesty. The Chargers may make it to the playoffs, but only because they easily play in the worst division in the AFC. The Dolphins, by contrast, have compiled a winning record in one of the toughest divisions.
Everything, however, is in place for Pennington’s revenge. He rides into New York City with a chance to end the Jets fading postseason hopes and a chance to end to the career of Favre, who had been hailed as the savior of the Jets just four months ago.
The first game between the two rivals went the Jets way, as Favre completed two touchdowns and nearly 200 yards.
Don’t expect the same thing to happen this time around. Favre has obviously been struggling in recent weeks, leading to speculation that this could indeed be his final season. But I think the Dolphins offense is much different than the one that the Jets confronted back at the start of the season. The combination of the Wildcat rushing attack with Pennington’s patient ways will prove too much to the floundering Jets. The key to the Dolphins victory will be whether or not the defense can shut down the potent combination of Thomas Jones and Leon Washington, who will become even more valuable if the weather is wet and cold as predicted.
This one thing is clear: Pennington won’t be the reason the Dolphins lose this game. He will do everything he can to make sure that the Dolphins cap a spectacular season and go from worst to first.
Santa, are you listening?