This Sunday in the NFL, the New York Jets (3-4) will host the rival Miami Dolphins (3-3). In order for my preseason predictions for the Jets (7-0 so far) to remain perfect, the Jets will need to dispatch their rivals and complete the season sweep.
In light of recent events, I am even more confident than before in this prediction. Here's why.
Quality of Play
As expected, the Dolphins are technically ahead in the standings this week. By virtue of their bye week, they are half a game ahead of the third-place Jets.
The Dolphins, though, have not had many quality games so far. They have only faced one likely playoff team, Houston in an embarrassing blowout loss to the Texans.
The Jets, meanwhile, have lost the games they were expected to lose but have put up much more of a fight than expected. They took both the Houston Texans and New England Patriots to the brink and have looked better each week since the flurry of injuries against the San Francisco 49ers.
The way the Jets have been playing these past three weeks—missing more than five key starters—is reminiscent of the 2011 Houston Texans.
With the Texans crippled by injuries, they were never really Super Bowl contenders last year. Nevertheless, their 10-6 season was inspiring and showed how much the team was going to be capable of.
Similarly, the Jets are not Super Bowl contenders this year. However, their high level of play has demonstrated surprising depth and may be foreshadowing some fantastic play next year.
For the current game at hand, the Jets have several players who may be returning. Nose tackle Sione Pouha—rated best in the NFL in 2011—hopes to return from his back injury. Running back Joe McKnight was able to play hobbled on Sunday with a high ankle sprain. He is likely to be in better health this coming weekend.
Lastly, tight end Dustin Keller is getting back to full speed and began to show flashes of his healthy self on Sunday. If he can be fully healthy—along with Jeremy Kerley and Stephen Hill—then the Jets will again have a reasonable receiving corps.
Tannehill Is Not Ready
Dolphins rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown some physical talent but has also shown that he does not yet understand the more complex NFL defenses.
He completed only 44 percent of his passes and threw an interception in his first game against the Jets. He was similarly unable to get anything going against the Texans defense.
So far this year, the Dolphins have lost every game in which Tannehill threw an interception. That streak will not last his whole career, but it will most likely last through this weekend.