New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins
8:30 p.m. ET, October 12, 2009
Line: Jets favored by 3.5 points
Land Shark Stadium, Miami, FL
The big NFL news from earlier in the week was the trade that sent for a couple of players and draft picks. Edwards was the quintessential talented WR who doesn't live up to expectations. The Browns had seen enough of his inconsistent play and shipped him to New York. The Jets hope to take advantage of the "change of scenery" maxim in sports that says a talented player who struggles at one franchise can change his fortunes with a new environment. Edwards goes from a bad football team to one in that is a legit playoff contender. Tonight, we get to see the first signs of which way this trade will go. WR to the Jets
The Dolphins are dealing with breaking in a new QB. and is out for the year with a shoulder injuryChad Henne stepped into the starter's spot last week, and got the Dolphins a victory. This was significant for a team that won the AFC East last year but had started 0-3. If they can pick off the Jets tonight, they're back in the AFC East hunt.
New York Jets (3-1)
The Jets came roaring out of the gate this season with rookie QB Mark Sanchez at the helm. Three straight wins had Fireman Ed dreaming of Super Bowls, but the team was brought back to earth last week with a beating from the New Orleans Saints. Sanchez had his first 'dud' game and now must get his team back on track. Sanchez now has more INTs (5) than TDs (4), a trend he needs to get reversed. He could benefit from a strong running game and while the Jets have a strong yards/game average on the ground, they're having to use a lot of attempts to get there. Their yards per carry average is decidedly middle of the pack.
But it's the passing game that everyone will be watching tonight. The idea for the Jets is to team Braylon Edwards with Jericho Cotchery to form a strong 1-2 punch at WR. We're not sure if we'll get to see that tonight -- Cotchery is a game-time decision for the Jets. If he can't go, even more pressure will be on Edwards to shine in his first start for the Jets.
The Jets defense has been impressive so far. The addition of Rex Ryan as head coach has had a noticeable effect on that side of the ball. Ryan brings over his attacking 3-4 defense that relies on movement, disguises and aggression to disrupt an offense's rhythm. It's a tough defense to diagnose, even for experienced vets. Chad Henne will have his work cut out for him.
Miami Dolphins (1-3)
Miami finally got a win last week when they managed to blowout the hapless Buffalo Bills. The Dolphins are having to adjust to new QB Chad Henne; last week Henne only threw for 115 yards and one TD, but he didn't throw any interceptions and managed a Dolphins team that was relying on their running game. Henne will probably be similarly handcuffed unless Miami falls behind by too many points.The Dolphins receiving corps is pedestrian and the Jets defense would love nothing more than to see the Dolphins drop back to pass.
When Miami's offense works, it's becasue of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Whether in conventional sets or the Wildcat, the Dolphins are more comfortable running the ball, and they do it well. Miami leads the league in rushing yards per game, with both Brown and Williams contributing big numbers, including both backs averaging over five yards per carry. The Jets defense vs. the Dolphins running game will be one of the biggest matchups in the game. Whoever dictates the terms of that matchup probably wins.
The Dolphins defense is strong, especially agasint the run. They lead the league with only 61 yards per game given up to the opposing running game. They keep backs to under three yards per carry. The Jets like to run the ball, but they might find it hard sledding agasint a Dophins defense that is very stingy with yards. Where Miami is more vulnerable is through the air, meaning Mark Sanchez to Braylon Edwards could play a central role.