If the Jets beat Miami, it won't come as much of a surprise to anyone; they're supposed to beat the Dolphins (which is why they're favored). For Miami, a loss isn't perceived as a big deal because to many of the experts and even Dolphins fans, they weren't supposed to be that good anyway.
But if Miami comes out victorious, it's a much different story. Miami is all of a sudden 2-1 going into a winnable stretch of games on the road against an iffy-looking Bengals team (if Brandon Weeden could look good against them, imagine how Tannehill would look), another up-and-down looking yet 2-0 Cardinals team (never have I seen a 2-0 team look so mediocre, and a home game against a Rams team that has shown flashes (even beating the Redskins) but seem to lack consistency.
New York on the other hand gets controversy, a true circus. "How could you lose to the Dolphins," the press will ask, while the calls for Tebow will come from more people than just Skip Bayless.
Oh and New York's schedule after Miami? San Francisco, Houston, Indianapolis and New England. Yes, three of those games are at home, but wouldn't you want a victory against Miami already in the bank before taking on that schedule?
Think this thought is crazy, that a Week 3 game isn't important? I have two years for you to remember: 2010 and 2008.
Week 3 of 2010 saw a 2-0 Dolphins squad (in their home opener) taking on a 1-1 Jets squad. New York took the 31-23 victory, and would finish the season at 11-5 en route to a berth in the AFC Championship game. Miami would go on to lose six out of their last seven home games and wind up at 7-9.
However, two years earlier we would see an 0-2 Dolphins squad prevail 38-13 in another Week 3 matchup. This time it was against the New England Patriots, in a game that's now referred to as the Wildcat game.
Following this game Miami would win 10 out of its last 13 games and take home its first AFC East championship since 2000. New England would also finish 11-5, but would miss the playoffs.
This Sunday's game against the Jets is very similar to that 2008 game against the Patriots. If Miami wins this game, they not only move up to 2-1, not only sit atop the AFC East and not only beat a division opponent—they'd send a message to the rest of the NFL, and more importantly themselves, that they are a team to be reckoned with this season.
It sets up the Dolphins for success in the future, especially for Ryan Tannehill; if he can survive the onslaught of the Jets' exotic blitz packages and pull away a victory, it would indicate he's truly ready for the NFL.
Can Miami pull off the upset? I'll let you know later this week. But this game will shape both team's 2012 seasons going forward, and nothing would be sweeter for coach Joe Philbin, Ryan Tannehill and Jeff Ireland than for the Jets to walk out of Miami as the losing team filled with turmoil on Sunday—exactly how they walked out of Miami last season.
It's more than just one team moving on to 2-1 while the other is 1-2. It's about more than just winning a Week 3 division game.
It's about setting up the future, and a Dolphins victory would set up a bright one in 2012.