It seemed like only yesterday that the Jets were flying to London to take on the Dolphins in a game with probable playoff implications. Now, the Dolphins are flying to New York for a game with possible playoff implications. After pummeling the fish in week 4, the Jets rode into the bye week flying high on a 3-1 start to their season. The Dolphins, meanwhile, fired their head coach and took a long look in the mirror (which is difficult when your eyes are on opposite sides of your head.) Since the bye week, the Dolphins have been a mixed bag, going 3-3. The Jets have been a train wreck going 2-4.
Where We Are
It's hard to imagine how we got here, but the Jets have now lost 4 of their last 5 games. The Jets have lost back to back games to teams that were .500 or lower coming in, and now sit at 3rd in the division and 9th in the playoff hunt. Three of the teams that are still in the playoff race have won tiebreakers against the Jets and the strength of schedule tiebreaker doesn't favor the Jets against just about any other team. The fact of the matter is that the Jets are not the team we thought they were a few weeks ago and will likely need to win at least 4 of their remaining 6 games to even have a remote chance at a playoff spot. The list of remaining teams is not exactly a murderer's row considering that only one team on the list has a winning record (albeit a 10-0 record), so this is far from impossible. Nevertheless, every game the Jets have left at this point is a must win at this point. A loss would hand the Jets their first sub .500 record of the season and tie them for last place in the division despite playing against the two weakest divisions in football this year (AFC South and NFC East.)
Where They Are
The Dolphins came into the year with sky high expectations, but the team failed to live up to even the most cautious fan's assumptions. After a 1-3 start which included one of the worst home losses in Dolphins history to a mediocre Rex Ryan-led Bills team, management finally pulled the plug on the inexplicably long project that was Joe Philbin. With the promotion of TE coach Dan Campbell, the team started to flip the script after back to back dominating wins. While some Dolphins fans likely would have explained to you in great detail the reasons as to why the season was back on track at 3-3, they would likely neglect to mention that both wins came against floundering AFC South teams. The Dolphins were promptly flattened by the Patriots and Bills in concurrent weeks, before splitting close games against Philadelphia and Dallas. At this point, I think it's safe to say that the Dolphins are a bad team that has not played up to its potential. This is not the type of team you want to overlook, however. The Dolphins have a ton of talent across the roster. They just haven't utilized it yet.
Jets Injury Report
|Fitzpatrick, Ryan||QB||Left Thumb||FP||FP||FP||probable|
|Quigley, Ryan||P||Right Knee||FP||FP||FP||probable|
This week's X-Factor is going to have to be Buster Skrine. With Darrelle Revis out for the game due to a concussion sustained against the Texans, Skrine will likely get the majority of the snaps in the slot. While Skrine is typically viewed as a slot corner for the Jets, this is relevant because the Dolphins' best pass catcher, Jarvis Landry, lines up and does significant damage from the slot position. Last time these teams met, Revis spent a considerable amount of time in the slot while shadowing Landry. Without Revis, Skrine will likely draw a large number of coverages against Landry. With Cromartie having one of his worst seasons in memory, there are enough holes in the secondary already. Skrine will have to shut down Landry when he lines up in the slot if the Jets have any hope of squelching the Dolphins offense. Fortunately for the Jets, Landry has been hampered by a knee injury which could give Skrine the edge this week.
This week's X-Factor for the Dolphins has to be Quinton Copl...can't even finish the sentence. Rishard Matthews is my X-Factor this week. Matthews is not only the Dolphins' leading receiver, but also their only real outside threat. He was recently listed on the injury report for an illness, meaning that he could be struggling during the game. While DeVante Parker has provided nothing in his rookie season, Stills remains a one trick pony. Landry is dealing with a knee injury that hampered him just a day ago and now Matthews is going to be fighting off an illness on game day. The Dolphins have the perfect opportunity to exploit a Jets defense that lacks its star corner, but their top two receiving options are both going to be hampered by injury or illness. If Matthews isn't good to go, the Dolphins offense won't have a chance.
Keys To Victory
Run the ball, Gailey. The Dolphins are second to last in rushing defense. Please, Gailey. Establish the run. Oh and their corners are short and our receivers are tall. Figure out how to use that or something.
Get some pressure. The Jets are tied for 19th in sacks (with Miami) and haven't gotten nearly enough pressure despite a heavily touted defensive line. Normally the Jets would likely have to drop more in coverage than usual with Revis injured, but who do the Dolphins have right now? Bring the house and test that shaky offensive line ahead of Tannehill.
The Bottom Line
I almost don't want to pick the Jets this week because that hasn't been working out so well for me lately. As I've said in the past, it's really 50/50 in every game from here on out (with the exception of the 49/51 Patriots game) and I'm not entirely sure what to expect this week. Without Cameron Wake on defense and both receivers playing injured, it's hard to pick the Dolphins in any game this year. They're just not a good team. Are the Jets? I really can't answer that, but I do think that they should win this game. The Dolphins have been a tire fire this season. The Jets are in the midst of a major meltdown, but they're not a tire fire. It's time for the Jets to fix this with a win at home.