New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins (-3.5)
Hard Rock Stadium
Announcers: Greg Gumble and Trent Green
Off a bye week, the Miami Dolphins play their final game on this LONG homestand as they host the New York Jets Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium. Being at home has paid dividends this season, as the Dolphins are 3-1 at home. The Jets, however, have won the last 4 seasons in Miami. This game is important for both teams. If the Dolphins lose, they will drop to 3-5, 1-2 in the division and can surely see any hope of making a run in 2016 go down the drain. The Jets on the other hand, will drop to 3-6 overall, 1-2 overall in the division all but ending their hopes of turning around their sloppy start to the season.
This game heavily favors the Dolphins on paper on many match ups. But being this is a divisional foe, throw away the paper. Miami must find a way to win this game, by any means necessary. As I wrote earlier in the week, the opponents record over the next 5 weeks are 13-24. It all starts with the Jets, here are the keys to victory going into this week:
1. All aboard the J-Train- Ajayi has been absolute monster in the two games prior to the bye week. Racking up 200+ yards rushing in both games (Steelers and Bills). This is going to be another big test as the Jets are ranked 6th overall to rush yards per game. They are 1st in yards per carry. Ajayi is averaging 6.2 yards per carry this season and I expect him to not break the NFL record but still be very efficient.
2. OL continued success- The starting offensive line has been GREAT for the past few weeks now that everyone is healthy. The Jets have a great front 7 and will pose a big match up for the Dolphins OL. They need to continue to win their one on one battles in the trenches and open up holes for Ajayi. In addition to that, continue to keep Tannehill's white jersey clean, as he has only been sacked once in the last 2 weeks.
3. Tannehill aggressiveness- I expect the Jets to load the box to bottle up Ajayi. This will exploit the Jets porous secondary. Tannehill is 4th in the NFL in yards per attempt (8.1). Revis looks nothing like he used to and there are too many big plays given up. Tannehill must continue his success throwing the ball down the field with accuracy to open up more running lanes later in the game. Stills and Parker (if playing) should cause match up problems in the open field with their speed.
4. FitzTRAGIC- The problem with the Jets other than the secondary issues is their quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitz has had struggles all season, particularly in the second halves of games. He has 1 touchdown and 10(!) INT. Miami needs to build a lead and force Fitz to throw the ball. The Jets are quite banged up in their backfield, having signed Knile Davis off a practice squad this week. It will be interesting to see what Vance Joseph dials up from a blitz prospective.
5. No Turnovers - The success other than Ajayi, is the fact the Dolphins have 0 turnovers in their previous two victories. Continue to stay clean on the stat sheet in that regards, they should continue their dominance on offense.
I can't stress enough these next 5 weeks are huge for the remainder of the season. This week being a divisional game will give Miami a 2-1 division record before their 3 of their last 4 game are against the Bills, Jets and Patriots. I believe we will see success throwing the ball down field and Ajayi keeping the offense balanced to pull out a much needed win to get to .500 on the season.
Dolphins 24 Jets 20
Season Record (4-3)