The Jets are trying to keep their playoff hopes alive and complete their first season sweep of the Dolphins since 2007. They were swept by Miami in 2009 and split the series in 2008 and 2010, but in each of the last two seasons they managed to reach the AFC Championship game.
A seven-game losing streak to begin this season all but dashed any playoff aspirations for the Dolphins, leaving them stunned but not ready to throw in the towel. They went on a three-game winning streak to quiet naysayers and a win Sunday would mean a 4-4 home record, 3-3 within the AFC East and a 6-3 record in their last nine games.
“All the marbles are there – the division, a home game, the last game, JT’s retirement game and so on and so forth, the Jets, it’s all there,” Dolphins outside linebacker
Like any division game the second time around both teams know each other very well, so there aren’t going to be too many surprises from either side. New York won the first meeting, 24-6, at MetLife Stadium on October 17th, but Miami is playing much better now. There will be plenty of critical match-ups to focus on in what will be an emotional game on both sides:
1. Dolphins outside linebacker Jason Taylor versus Jets offensive line – You might as well throw in the tight ends and running backs into the mix, as Taylor no doubt will be energized from beginning to end with this being his last game. Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson said as much early in the week once news began to trickle out about Taylor’s retirement and Jets head coach Rex Ryan joked that he wished Taylor had retired last week and skipped this game. Circumstances really play into Taylor’s hands here, as New York has to give Wake with his 8.5 sacks proper attention while Taylor will get a fair share of one-on-one match-ups. He also is familiar with the Jets’ schemes and personnel having played with them last season, so the edge goes to Miami in this one.
2. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis versus Dolphins wide receiver
3. Dolphins left tackle
4. Jets tight end Dustin Keller versus Dolphins strong safety
5. Dolphins interim Head Coach Todd Bowles versus Jets head coach Rex Ryan – This will be Bowles’ final audition for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and General Manager Jeff Ireland so he will be focused on making sure his players are disciplined and properly motivated to close out the 2011 season with a win. Ryan has gone out of his way to redirect the spotlight off of his players and onto him with his boastful comments and retorts. He knows he needs help around the league to make good on his playoff predictions, but what he doesn’t want to see is an uninspired effort against the Dolphins and the intensity of the rivalry won’t allow that to happen. Don’t be surprised to see this game come down to a field goal or a critical coaching decision late in the fourth quarter.