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Sunday Night Football Preview: Jets Hunt for Fish in Clash of Division Rivals

Who/What: Jets // Fish on Sunday Night Football, baby! 

How/When: 8:25 P.M EST -- on NBC.

Why: Because for approximately three hours, Gang Green will be at war with the Chicken of the Sea in Sun Life Stadium ---looking to avenge dropping  three straight to their division rivals.

Misc. Facts:

  • Jets lead the all-time series against the Dolphins 46-41-1. Miami luckboxed a victory in Giants Stadium en route to sweeping NYJ last year, though.
  • Jets are 1-0 this year when an ex-player is claimed by the enemy 72 hours or less before game time.
  • OLB Jason Taylor spent 12 of his first 13 seasons with the Dolphins, he now faces his former team in his former home.

X-Factor: WR Braylon Edwards --  A fish killer last year

Last season, Edwards had his two best games against Miami, hauling in 9 catches for 135 yards (13.8 ypc) with two TDs in both games combined.

I've labeled him as the ‘X-Factor' because there's a huge question mark as to how much he will play. Rex, Tannenbaum, and Schottenheimer all have been hush-hush about playing time when asked during press conferences. I'm going to speculate and say he's benched into the second quarter, and then sees time somewhere around then. Who knows though, owner Woody Johnson was extremely upset at Edwards over the incident.

Regardless, we need some big plays from him, and we need his vertical routes to stretch the Miami defense and open it up for our run-game. He definitely made some huge last plays against Phins last year, and we hope to see more of the same tomorrow.

Tame the Pussycat:

Last year, the Wild Pussycat offense and its deception helped Miami beat the Jets in the first matchup between the two. They used it to wear Jets' defense down and put up 21 points in fourth quarter, en route to a late, crushing victory. However, it was a much different story when the two faced off in Giants Stadium, as Jets had tape to study to limit its deceptiveness, and Miami gained only six total yards when operating out of the formation.

This year, Jets have been phenomenal against the run. They rank No.3 in NFL giving up just 50.5 ypg. Guys are stepping up in Jenkins' absence, especially DT Sione Pouha who has 10 tackles and two recovered fumbles.  DE Mike Devito has eight tackles, and OLB Bryan Thomas also has nine. Jets have done a great job getting penetration upfront and also in wrapping up tackles, something they struggled in at times last season.

Jets will need a strong effort from OLB Jason Taylor and OLB Bryan Thomas, as a lot of Wildcats' effectiveness is based on misdirections and Jets will need to get penetration off the edge.   Both have had phenomenal seasons thus far, and Taylor is now returning to his former home.

(Per ESPN New York's Matt Ehalt) - "Miami ran the formation 16 times in its 151-yard rushing performance in Miami's 31-27 win on Oct. 12, 2009. When the teams played again On Nov. 1, 2099, at Giants Stadium, the Jets shut down the Wildcat, as Miami used it just seven times for six yards in its 30-25 win."

Limit Brandon Marshall:

Without a vertical threat to spread the field and stretch the defense to keep them honest, Fins' rushing offense is just average. Teams can stack the box and commit to stopping it. There's a reason Dolphins are just 3 for 14 on third down and six yards or more (this according to Matty I at the Phinsider). Force them into a passing down, bring the pressure on the young QB Chad Henne, and watch good things happen.

Jets will need to play some bracket coverage on passing downs, doubling Marshall with CB Antonio Cromartie jamming him at the line of scrimmage and a safety or LB helping in coverage.  Jets have the benefit of not having to roll coverage as Marshall is their main receiving threat and they don't have to worry about another WR or TE beating them.

It's safe to say Cromartie will be motivated, as the last time they faced each other in 2008, Marshall pulled in a career-high 18 catches for 166 yards.

Let's face it, outside of Marshall, their WR corps is weak. Davone Bess and Brian Hartline fill out their 3-WR sets. That scares no one. John B. mentioned this earlier in the week here, and with good reason.

 LT watch:

RB LaDainian Tomlinson needs just 3 receiving yards on Sunday night to become the 5th player in NFL history to record 12,000 rushing yards and 4,000 receiving yards in a career.

LT has continued to silence his critics this season, showing that he still has great burst speed. He has rushed for 6.8 ypc thus far, and ranks No. 2 in NFL in YOc (Yards after Contact).

Stat Line (I):

Fins were dominated last game, but were lucky to sneak out a victory by forcing four Brett Favre turnovers. They were out-gained 364 to 226  yards and  recorded only 12 first downs, while Jets out-gained Patriots 336 to 291.  

StatLine (II):

Jets held Fins to just 104 total yards last matchup, while gaining 378 yards themselves. Fins won that game due to two gimmicky special teams' touchdowns from WR Ted Ginn Jr., who is no longer on the team.

Gang Green on Offense:

Jets simply have more weapons on offense than Miami does. Gang Green can beat you east-west with RB LaDainian Tonlinson AND north-south with RB Shonn Greene (who is due for a breakout game) , underneath/over the middle with TE Dustin Keller and WR Jerricho Cotchery, and deep to WR Braylon Edwards. Edwards should play at least a half and will certainly be motivated to make a big play. My guess is he gets at least one target on a vertical route, possibly after a play-fake.

Gang Green on Defense:

On the other side of the ball, if you double WR Brandon Marshall you can shut down Miami's passing game, and stack the box to commit to stopping the run. As long as guys are where they're supposed to be and you can plug all gaps, the Wildcat can be tamed.

DC Mike Pettine will continue to blitz early and often but will disguise coverage, and that makes it tough on any young QB. I think Jets can take QB Chad Henne out of a rhythm, and keep him confused. The key will be stopping the run and  putting Miami in "3rd and  long" situations. If we can  keep them in strictly passing downs, I think that gives us a great chance  to force a couple of turnovers.

Miami's offense ranks 28th in passing yards @ 135 ypg, and Jets have been outstanding against the run, giving up just 50.5 ypg. You can't win games when you can't consistently move the football on offense, you have to control the clock. Jets do that well, and that's why they will win. Miami will be in tears --- just like when they missed the playoffs last season, and we were one game away from the Super Bowl...

Prediction: J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS 20, Chicken of the Sea 16.