GWR Preview: Jets vs. Dolphins

GWR's Nick St. Denis takes a look at the AFC East battle and the key points to the game.

The Miami Dolphins visit The New Meadowlands Stadium having beaten the Jets in the last three meetings of the two teams in East Rutherford, NJ, and New York is coming off an embarrassing 45-3 blowout loss to the Patriots in Foxoboro. Here are some focal points in this late-season AFC East showdown:

Something To Watch When The Dolphins Are On Offense – How will the absence of Brian Hartline affect Miami's passing game? With a 14.3-yard-per-reception average (best on the team for a receiver with four or more catches) in addition to having the team's third-most receptions (43), Hartline is an underrated piece to the Dolphins' aerial attack. His absence may ease the Jets' woes at safety.

Something To Watch When The Dolphins Are On Defense – Cameron Wake leads the NFL in sacks with 12, and Miami is ranked fourth on defense against the pass (201.2 yards-per-game). Can a beat-up Damien Woody be effective in helping contain Wake rushing around the outside? Sanchez may need to rely on the short passing game which can be highly effective with LaDainian Tomlinson and Santonio Holmes, though the Jets really should just run the heck out of the ball, anyway.

A Dolphins Strength – Miami's run-blocking is suspect, but the Flippers are particularly good at getting first downs running left in short-yardage situations. On third- and fourth-and-short, Miami gets first downs 88 percent of the time when rushing behind left guard Richie Incognito and left tackle Jake Long. In must-have circumstances, that's where Miami will go and dare teams to stop them.

A Dolphins Weakness – As previously noted above, Miami's run blocking OVERALL is subpar. At 3.8 yards a clip, the Dolphins rank tied for 25th in yards-per-carry average. Then again, they will just run at you anyway no matter what yardage they're getting. Twice in their past three games, the Dolphins have had less than 20 first downs in a game – a sign of an offense that sputters

. Matchup to Watch – Jets Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer vs. Dolphins O-Coordinator Dan Henning. Who will try to out-clever themselves more and wind up costing their offense any chance to get into a rhythm? Playcalling on offense will decide the game, especially given the wet conditions expected on Sunday, with forecasts calling for an inch of rain.

Final Thoughts & Nick's Picking: I've picked the Jets every game this season, mainly because I think they are a good football team. This week, they don't make me look stupid. Jets win, 20-14. Plenty of other things make me look stupid, but not the Jets this week.

Follow Nick St. Denis, author of the blog www.OffTheLineFootball.com, at Twitter.com/NickStDenis


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