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What to watch for in Dolphins-Jaguars on 'Thursday Night Football'

One bodacious beard versus one sensational stache.

It's a hairy situation the likes of which the NFL might have never seen before and perhaps will never see again.

As Floridian franchises collide, refurbishing squads, some impressive facial hair and some underrated and overlooked talent get the prime time spotlight.

For the second straight week, an intrastate matchup takes centerstage, as the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) host the Miami Dolphins (0-2) at TIAA Bank Field, kicking off at 8:20 p.m. ET on Thursday Night Football, exclusively on the NFL Network.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew -- with some help from a rookie running back and a steady linebacker corps -- looks to continue his torrid start for the Jaguars, while his counterpart Ryan Fitzpatrick aims to lead the Dolphins to their first win of 2020.

Here's what to watch for when the Jaguars and Dolphins clash on Thursday night:

Charismatic QBs look to carry on stellar play

A magnificent mustache, a brilliant beard and 100 yards of possibilities are on hand Thursday evening. Big numbers and big personalities will face off when second-season sensation Gardner Minshew leads his Jags against all-star journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Fins. Each QB is bringing a run of great play to the dance. Minshew's tossed three touchdowns in each of his first two games. In a season-opening upset of the Colts, Minshew's accuracy was on display as he built a 142.2 QB rating on an astounding 19-for-20 showing. On Sunday, he was a gunslinger, chucking it 45 times with a career-high 339 yards in the Jaguars' narrow loss to the Titans. A scrambler, a slinger and more than just a headband and a great stache, Minshew's campaign to become Jacksonville’s franchise signal-caller is off to a great start. In contrast, Fitzpatrick's days as the Dolphins starter are unlikely to last all that long, especially if losses mount. Tua Tagovailoa is waiting in the wings, but Fitzpatrick keeps on trucking, a trademark beard and fire to win carrying him along. Bouncing back from an ugly three-pick opener against New England, Fitzpatrick was excellent in Week 2 against the Bills to the tune of 328 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-28 defeat. The 24-year-old Minshew's aiming to earn his Jacksonville tenure and the 37-year-old Fitzpatrick's aiming to prolong his starting reign. Regardless of where their careers are going, on Thursday, it's Minshew Mania vs. FitzMagic in what promises to be, quite simply, a whole lot of fun to watch.

Duval rush defense looking good

Over the first two weeks, the Jaguars defense has been surprisingly stubborn against the run. In a 33-30 loss to the Titans in Week 2, Jacksonville held rushing champ Derrick Henry to 84 yards on 25 carries. Over two games, the Jaguars have allowed 211 yards on the ground and 3.8 per carry. Joe Schobert (18 tackles), Myles Jack (22 tackles) and Josh Jones (19 tackles) have gobbled up ball carriers. It could bode bad for the Dolphins, who brought in a parade of free agents to rescue a dire rushing situation and have so far floundered. New additions Jordan Howard and Matt Breida have fallen flat in the early going. Myles Gaskin has shown promise, but thus far, the new-look Miami rushing attack is bringing back old memories of a dismal 2019 showing in which Fitzpatrick, with all of 243 yards, led the team in rushing. The Dolphins' so-far dreadful running game (93 yards per game so far) needs to get well in a hurry, but if the Jaguars rushing defense continues its terrific play, it won't be in Week 3.

Jaguars UDFA's big-stage debut

Feel-great story, Illinois State legend and the undrafted free agent that could, James Robinson has impressed at season's onset. Over two weeks, he's gained 164 yards on 32 carries. While those numbers aren't necessarily eye-popping, when Leonard Fournette was released, there was confusion aplenty as to who would take over. And it just so happens it’s been an undrafted free agent lining up next to a former sixth-round pick at QB. And they're giving the Jags a chance. There might be a gem hidden away in Duval. Thursday night will be the first chance for one of the NFL's most unheralded and pleasantly surprising rookies to play on a big stage.

Dolphins DBs need to cool hot hand

One of the more resounding renovations this offseason for the Dolphins was a very high-priced defensive backfield. Byron Jones came over from the Cowboys to become the highest-paid corner in the game (but not this one, as Jones is out with an Achilles injury) and play opposite Xavien Howard, who’s also commanding top dollar. Bills QB Josh Allen put up career-highs of four touchdowns and 417 yards in the Dolphins' loss on Sunday. Minshew's coming in having tossed three touchdown passes in each of the season's first two weeks. Along with safeties Bobby McCain, Eric Rowe and rookie Brandon Jones (who has shown promise), immediate improvement is called for -- and that's if Howard and Jones are available as each is nursing injuries. The Dolphins DBs need to cool Minshew's hot hand and play up to their potential.

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