Normally when the Miami Dolphins take on the New York Jets, both teams and their fans would consider it a “must-win” game whether it was the first game of the season or the last with both teams eliminated from playoff contention. This season the first match-up between these two teams happens to have a little more incentive for the winner; they’ll still be in the hunt for what appears to be the final playoff spot. The implications of this game will pretty much determine the outcome of the season, and neither team nor fan wants that to happen, especially to one another.
The Dolphins are looking to bounce back from a disheartening defeat to the Carolina Panthers last Sunday. Once again Miami let a halftime lead get away and Cam Newton led the Panthers to a late touchdown to win it for Carolina. Luckily for the Dolphins, Jets quarterback Geno Smith has only completed 55 percent of his passes and thrown for just over half the amount of touchdowns (8) which their own quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, has with his whopping 15.
What the Jets have done better than the Dolphins this season is staying committed to the running game. Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell have combined to rush for 984 yards on 241 carries this season whereas the Dolphins’ tandem of Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas—who is likely out for the season after being injured in the Carolina game—have combined for 754 yards on 191 carries. If Miami would commit to the run and establish that part of their offense they would certainly have had more success in a few games that have ended up getting away from them. Obviously, just looking at the numbers, the Dolphins have had success running the ball by nearly achieving the same amount of yardage on 50 less attempts. With Thomas out, the Dolphins will have to use rookie running back and fifth round pick Mike Gillislee who has not been used much at all this season.
Undoubtedly, this is a huge match up for the Dolphins, and statistically they appear to be a more efficient and effective offense than their bitter rival from the north. Look for Ryan Tannehill to try and stretch the field with Mike Wallace like they did last week against Carolina. They had success on two deep plays and one resulted in a touchdown. For Wallace to get open more, Miami will have to commit to the run and do what they can to keep the defense looking in the backfield. If Miami can limit their turnovers, the defense should have no problem stopping the Jets’ offense and Miami can keep their playoff hopes alive in this “must-win” game Sunday.