With all four teams in the AFC East coming into Week 3 at 1-1, the winner of Sunday's contest between the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins will be guaranteed no worse than a share of the lead heading into next week.
For a Jets team that came into the season expecting a return to playoff form, beating the Dolphins is vital. New York looked like a floundering failure in last week's 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and will need to find some form of offensive explosion going forward.
On the other side of the field, the Dolphins seemingly found their explosion in running back Reggie Bush. The seven-year veteran eviscerated the Oakland Raiders last week in Miami's 35-13 win and will look to do the same against a questionable Jets run defense.
With divisional glory on the line for both teams, here's a look at everything you need to know about Sunday's game.
When: Sunday, Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Where: Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Jets - 3 (Bovada)
Though both teams come into this contest with a 1-1 record, a quick glance at their respective rosters provides plenty of credence to the Jets being favored on the road.
While New York got eviscerated on both sides of the ball last week, the domination was being performed by a desperate Steelers team. Had Pittsburgh started 0-2, it could have been the death knell for its playoff aspirations in the ultra-competitive AFC North.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, aren't going to get 172-yard performances from Reggie Bush every week. The 27-year-old has blossomed since arriving in Miami, but the Jets will undoubtedly shift their focus heavily in his direction this week.
That likely leaves the game in Ryan Tannehill's hands. The rookie looked fine last week, but he won't stand a chance against Rex Ryan's complex blitzing schemes.
Over/Under: 41.5 (via Bovada)
Even though this is (understandably) the lowest over/under of the week, you should not hesitate to jump on the under here.
Neither Tannehill nor Mark Sanchez have been able to prove that they can put 20-plus points on the board with any consistency.
Without defensive touchdowns or a huge game from one of the two running backs (and it won't be Shonn Greene), this should be an ugly defensive struggle down to the last whistle.
I would honestly have a difficult time advising the over on anything above 30 points here.
Jets Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
LB Nick Bellore, Shoulder, Probable
RB John Conner, Knee, Doubtful
CB Antonio Cromartie, Shoulder, Probable
DE Mike DeVito, Calf, Probable
TE Dustin Keller, Hamstring, Questionable
CB Ellis Lankster, Lower Back, Questionable
C Nick Mangold, Wrist, Probable
LB Calvin Pace, Achilles, Probable
DT Sione Po'uha, Back, Probable
CB Darrelle Revis, Concussion, Probable
WR Chaz Schilens, Ankle, Probable
LB Bart Scott, Knee, Probable
LB Bryan Thomas, Hamstring, Doubtful
CB Isaiah Trufont, Ankle, Probable
DE Quinton Coples, Illness, Probable
S LaRon Landry, Heel, Questionable
S Eric Smith, Hip/Knee, Questionable
Dolphins Injury Report (via CBS Sports)
WR Anthony Armstrong, Hamstring, Probable
LB Kevin Burnett, Foot, Probable
LB Jonathan Freeny, Thumb, Probable
CB Richard Marshall, Back, Probable
DT Tony McDaniel, Knee, Out
RB Lamar Miller, Ankle, Probable
LB Koa Misi, Foot, Probable
WR Marlon Moore, Hamstring, Doubtful
DE Jared Odrick, Thumb, Probable
RB Daniel Thomas, Concussion, Probable
S Jimmy Wilson, Back, Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Jets: Team Defense
Though it would be far easier to prognosticate an individual performance here, there is no one on the Jets' roster you can ever feel comfortable starting on a weekly basis.
Greene is likely an every-week start for most of his owners, but that is not by choice. The fourth-year back has gained just 117 yards on 38 carries this season, good for a completely unspectacular 3.1 yards per carry.
And with the complete inconsistency of everyone in the New York passing game, it would probably take a 16-team league or more for any Jet to garner starting consideration.
That leaves the defense, a unit that should get multiple sacks and create at least one turnover on Sunday. Ryan thrives on confounding overmatched quarterbacks, so look for Tannehill to be throwing fantasy points to the defense throughout the game.
I would be absolutely shocked if the Jets were not among the top three defenses this week.
Dolphins: RB Reggie Bush
After an amazing performance last week against the Raiders, Bush is a must-start in nearly every format in Week 3.
The Jets got burned by a similarly speedy back in C.J. Spiller, who ran for 169 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
It's unlikely that the former USC Trojan will be able to match Spiller's performance, as Gang Green looked markedly improved against the Steelers last week.
Nevertheless, all it takes is one big run from Bush to give him fantasy value. Considering the dearth of explosive talent on Miami's roster, feel free to start him this week.
Key to Jets Win: Avoid Turnovers
Based on talent alone, New York should walk to a relatively easy victory on Sunday. The Dolphins are still fully in rebuild mode under head coach Joe Philbin and have gaping holes that a team with the Jets' talent level should be able to exploit.
Nonetheless, if the Jets (particularly Sanchez) come out and give the ball away early, it could pay massive dividends to this young Dolphins squad.
We saw last week how quickly Miami can build a lead when fully confident. And with points coming at a premium on Sunday, any turnover that leads to a score could be the difference between triumph and failure.
Key to Dolphins Win: Stop the Run
Last week the Steelers held running backs Greene and Bilal Powell to just 56 yards on 20 carries, thereby forcing Sanchez to the forefront of the Jets' offense.
The result: Sanchize went 10-of-27 passing for 138 yards and a touchdown while Pittsburgh came away with an easy win.
If the Dolphins can have remotely similar success, they could come away with their second upset in as many weeks. However, if either Powell or Greene creates any offensive momentum and the Jets can effectively use the play-action, Miami will be looking at a 1-2 record.
Even though the Dolphins showed their immense potential last week against the Raiders, they still won't be able to bring that level of play every week.
Look for a close, ugly affair, but one that the Jets ultimately win.
Final Score Prediction: Jets 17, Dolphins 13
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