Who: New York Jets (8-7) at Miami Dolphins (5-10)
Where: Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL
When: Sunday, January 1st at 1:00 P.M. EST
Last Week: Miami lost to New England 27-24; the New York Jets fell to the New York Giants 29-14.
The Miami Dolphins will line up for the final time on Sunday as they play host to the New York Jets. The Dolphins are 3-4 at home this season and will have a chance to finish .500 at Sun Life Stadium this season after going just 1-7 last year at home. The ‘Fins are coming off of a 27-24 loss to New England in which they blew an early 17-0 lead. The Dolphins have won five of eight after an 0-7 start. The New York Jets come in with a lot to play for; the Jets have reached the AFC Championship Game in each of the last two seasons, but will need to beat Miami and have losses by Cincinnati, Tennessee and either Denver or Oakland just to reach the playoffs. The Dolphins will be without Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long on Sunday; this will be the second game that Long has missed this season due to injury after playing in all 48 games in his first three seasons in the NFL.
When the teams met in East Rutherford back in October, the Jets dominated the second half in a 24-6 victory over the Dolphins. The last meeting in Miami came last September with New York winning 31-23. Miami last beat the Jets in South Florida in October of 2009 as Ronnie Brown scored a late touchdown to give the Dolphins a 31-27 Monday night win. Miami, at 5-10, fell back into last place in the AFC East with their loss last week coupled with Buffalo’s win over Denver. The Dolphins will need to win on Sunday and have Buffalo lose to New England to finish tied for third. The Jets will finish second in the division, but a win over Miami would clinch a third straight winning season and keep New York’s slim playoff hopes alive.
Keys to a ‘Fins Win
Take Care of the Football
Turnovers have plagued Miami in losses this season and such was the case last week. Up 17-3 against New England, a Matt Moore fumble set up a Patriots’ touchdown early in the third quarter. With the game tied at 17 in the fourth quarter and Miami driving, Moore was intercepted near the end zone which would lead to the field goal that put New England ahead for good. In the first meeting between the Dolphins and Jets this season, Miami had early momentum before a Darrelle Revis interception went 100 yards the other way for a Jets’ touchdown to completely change the game. If the Dolphins are to win on Sunday, taking care of the football will be vital; it is not an area where the ‘Fins have excelled over the past two weeks.
Keep Bush Going
In last week’s loss to New England, Reggie Bush eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his career and has rushed for at least 100 yards in four straight football games. Bush had 71 yards on 10 carries when the teams met in East Rutherford earlier this season. Without tackle Jake Long to help pass protect, the Dolphins will need to be able to run the football and Bush appears to be the guy that will do that. If the ‘Fins are able to get Bush going on the ground, that should open up things for Brandon Marshall and the Miami passing game.
Make Sanchez Make Plays
Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez is fighting a shoulder injury, but will likely play on Sunday. New York has been offensively challenged this season and that has especially been the case when the Jets struggle to run the football. Mark Sanchez has thrown two interceptions in each of the last two weeks and is arguably most effective in the play-action game. If the Dolphins are able to take Shonn Greene and the Jets’ running game away, the ‘Fins should have a very good opportunity to knock the rival Jets out of playoff contention.