Falling to the New York Jets in overtime is heartbreaking for a Dolphins fan.
Week 3 was precisely that when a lone Nick Folk 33-yard field goal separated Miami from its second victory of the season.
But by Week 8, the two squads have gone in drastically different directions. The Dolphins (3-3) are playing great football, riding a two-game winning streak, and are led by a terrifying defensive line and Ryan Tannehill under center. The Jets (3-4) have been, well, less than fantastic. Rex Ryan has quite the situation before him with the demise of the turnover-prone Mark Sanchez, the crumbling of the defense, the rampant escalation of Tebow-mania in New York, and, well, cries for his head.
Miami enters this game with the attitude of a contender and if they intend to make a run at a playoff spot, they will need to step things up drastically against the Jets.
Without Darrelle Revis, the Jets secondary is definitely weaker, but still relatively formidable with replacement Kyle Wilson (who would be the best corner in Miami). Their running defense has not been as dominant as it has been in recent years, but still can hinder the production of Reggie Bush, who will be an interesting phenomenon to begin with considering his injury (I'm sure he'd love to torch Rex Ryan's prized defense).
To combat the Jets secondary, which also is equipped with fantastic coverage safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell (we definitely miss him), the Dolphins are going to have to think short. If one were to analyze how Tom Brady and the New England Patriots passed so effectively last weekend, they threw a ton of passes in the direction of the tight ends, who were covered by linebackers.
Unfortunately for the Dolphins, Charles Clay and Anthony Fasano are no Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. But they will have to do. Tannehill should also keep an eye on Brian Hartline, who would benefit profusely from play-action, as Rex Ryan does have a tendency to creep numbers forward.
On the defensive side of the ball, quarterback pressure is going to be everything for the Dolphins. In the Week 3 defeat, Miami only sacked Mark Sanchez once, allowing him the time needed to pass for over 300 yards in the afternoon. If the Patriots showed anything last weekend, it was that Sanchez crumbles when he is forced to deal with defensive pressure and is turnover-prone. Miami must replicate the exact same system as the Pats and get to Sanchez before he has time to think.
If they can accomplish these two agendas, Miami can find itself at 4-3, ready to take on the AFC for a playoff spot.