When the Miami Dolphins play the New York Jets this Sunday, it’ll be the turning point of their season. Not only will it be past the halfway point of the season, but if they win, they’ll get back to .500. A victory would also give them back to back wins in the AFC East. Toss in the fact if the Bills lose on Monday night the Dolphins leap into second place in the division and it’s a whole different season.
Miami desperately needs to win this game. Even though the entire AFC looks to be a dumpster fire, Miami can’t afford a second divisional loss. Two of their three division games left this season are on the road where Miami is currently 0 for 3. So how do they get the job done?
On offense, Miami has been on a bit of a hot streak. With back to back 200-yard rushing games, the Dolphins have turned some heads. However, the strength of the Dolphins has to be in the passing game. With the New York Jets dead last in pass defense, Miami needs to focus on the attack. Expect Adam Gase to start the game with run-heavy that will quickly open up the play action. Receivers like Jarvis Landry and Kenny Still should be open early and often against the Jets so if the run game sputters, look for them to shine.
The difference maker for the Dolphins should be the play of their tight ends. Miami has struggled to get these guys involved, and injuries have set them back. If they have to rely on the passing game, someone has to step up. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill hasn’t had success in the red zone due to a lack of big bodies who can take away the football. The Jets have struggled to defend this year, but big plays won’t always get the job done.
Advantage New York:
The Jets boast the league’s best run defense and they’ll need it. With Jay Ajayi turning into the player the Dolphins hoped he’d be they’ll need all hands on deck. Miami has benefited from a healthy offensive line, but New York won’t be pushed around. They’ll have to force Miami’s offense to throw the ball. A move that could work out in their favor as Tannehill has never been consistent through all four quarters. Look for the Jets to stop the J-Train and force their offense into an air attack.
The key to victory will be running back Matt Forte. Miami has been back and forth when stopping the run and Sunday might not be any different. Adam Gase may have coached Forte in Chicago, but he rarely had to game plan for him. Forte’s biggest asset going into this match up will be how he stacks up in the passing game. Look for the Jets to swing the ball out to Forte and force the Dolphins to the outside. Miami might have to work their way to the sidelines opening up the middle of the field.
To beat the Dolphins, the Jets will have to use the whole field. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will need to shake off his inconsistent tendencies and take care of the football. While Miami hasn’t had great success in takeaways, their defense is getting back to healthy adding some much-needed depth. Both teams have looked as if it’ll be another year of misery, and both have flashed hopes of success. This will be the game that decides if either has playoff potential.
If the Jets win on the road they’ll end up one win away from .500. If Miami continues their home game stand, they’ll be 4-4 and 2-1 in divisional play and turn their attention to Monday night. Second place in the division puts them right in a wild card hunt so long as the AFC West does their part of losing. The two teams are pretty evenly matched but in the end, it comes down to sloppy play and which team makes fewer mistakes. Miami has struggled to score through the air, but if Tannehill can get them close Ajayi will punch it in. Miami barely wins. 24-23.