The New York Jets travel down to south Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins in a crucial Monday Night Football match-up (8:30 EST). The Jets coming off of a loss to the Saints need to bounce back strong to stay atop of the AFC East, while the Dolphins need a victory to avoid falling out of the divisional race. Lets take a look at how these two arch-rivals pair up.
Jets Offense vs. Dolphins Defense – Key Match-up Offensive line vs. Defensive Line
In order for the Jets to have any success on offense, the running game needs to be established early and often. Gang Green’s running attack, ranked 9th in the NFL, will face a very strong Dolphin defense ranked 2nd in the NFL. The Jets offensive line, which has struggled at times during the first four weeks of the season, will need to win the battles at the line of scrimmage. The addition of wide receiver of Braylon Edwards should help the unit as the Miami defense will have to respect his down the field potential and will not be able to stack the box as much. If the running game, notably Thomas Jones, begins to struggle, Gang Green will need to get all-purpose back Leon Washington more involved, as he is the most explosive player on the Jets offense.
Another aspect of the Jets offense to keep an eye on is the performance of rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez. Sanchez, started out the season strong, but faced his first dose of reality last week against the Saints (4 turnovers). Mark will need to continue to play with a high level of confidence and composure while leading the Jets offense against this attacking defense.
Jets Defense vs. Dolphins Offense – Key Match-up Linebacker David Harris vs. Miami running backs
On the offensive side of the ball the Miami Dolphins bring a lot to the table when it comes to their running game. Here are some interesting offensive statistics after the first four weeks of the season.
1) The Dolphins lead the NFL in rushing averaging 183.5 yards a game.
2) Miami leads the NFL in time of possession.
3) The Dolphins are ranked 3rd in the NFL when it comes to converting third downs.
The Dolphins ground attack is spearheaded by running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Both of these runners are very powerful and work well in the Wildcat formation that Miami loves to use. The Jets defense, led by linebacker David Harris, will need to get into the backfield and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. If Gang Green is able to stifle the running game, they can then focus their sights on the Dolphins young quarterback Chad Henne, who is making his second start.
One major addition to the Jets defense this week is the return of linebacker Calvin Pace from suspension. Pace is arguably one of the Jets best linebackers, especially when it comes to rushing the quarterback. It will be interesting to see the condition of Pace and how many downs he will be able to play in the Florida heat.
This has the makings to be a very physical, hard-nosed game. In the end I think the New York Jets will make enough plays on defense to stifle the Dolphins and rattle their young quarterback. This will more than likely be a close game heading into the fourth quarter but in the end the hungrier, more talented Jets team finds a way to win. Jets 24-17
For all of my week 5 NFL picks click here.