With a victory over the New York Jets this Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will climb above .500 (4-3) and shift the balance of power in the AFC East. The Dolphins are rested after coming off a bye, while the Jets are looking to recuperate from their 29-26 overtime loss to the division-leading New England Patriots.
Vegas has the Jets as a 2.5-point favorite—typical for a home team when facing an evenly-matched opponent. The question is: Should Miami be favored to win the 95th matchup in this rivalry's history?
The answer to that question is yes.
History is not on the side of the Jets. No team in the Rex Ryan era has been able to sweep the Dolphins, and New York is only 1-2 at home against Miami since 2009.
Recent history tells us that the Jets defeated the Dolphins in Week 3; however, the whole story cannot be told with a box score.
The Jets walked out of Sun Life Stadium with a 23-20 victory in overtime, but it took a missed game-winning field goal and a mistimed timeout by Miami in order for the Jets to secure the win.
Credit the Jets for taking advantage of Miami's missed opportunities—opportunities New York cannot rely on in Week 8. Dan Carpenter has connected on four of his last six attempts since Week 3, and he has never missed a kick (6-of-6 with a long of 48) at the Meadowlands.
Mark Sanchez may have improved the last two weeks (66.1 completion percentage for 410 yards with three touchdowns and one interception), but he still continues to turn the ball over. His crippling turnovers against the Patriots attributed to his team’s loss.
Lost in all the media hype surrounding New York is the development of Ryan Tannehill. He has improved every week since his Week 1 debacle—a 30-10 loss to the Texans.
Tannehill has not turned the ball over since Week 4 and has completed a methodical 69 percent of his passes for 408 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions. It is no coincidence that Miami has won its last two games.
As a rookie, Tannehill is already receiving high marks from well-known commodities around the league.
Jeff Fisher praised the young quarterback following Miami's 17-14 victory over the St. Louis Rams in Week 6, stating, "He’s got too much poise, too much experience in the system. He’s going to be a good player."
It is high praise from a revered coach that Sanchez is yet to receive in his fourth year in the NFL.
According to Stats Inc. (via Ben Volin), Tannehill was an impressive 11-of-13 for 105 yards with two touchdowns and zero interceptions against the blitz in Week 6, highlighting his remarkable development.
Health has been a major concern for both teams this year, and another week will help the two get closer to full strength. Unfortunately for the Jets, Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes will not be stepping on the field this time.
The bye week for Miami has provided Reggie Bush with another week to get as close to 100 percent as possible. Bush moved the ball well (10 rushes for 61 yards) before suffering a knee injury in the second quarter of the first matchup.
He was unable to return, and Miami's offense was a bit stagnant for the remainder of the game. With Bush closer to full strength—and the possible contribution from recently acquired wide receiver Jabar Gaffney—Miami could have its compliment of weapons for Week 8.
Much has been made about the Jets' recent performance, but they have lost two of their last three. Conversely, Miami has won its last two games and should be favored to win its third straight.
The Dolphins are healthier, confident and learning how to win the close games they couldn't at the beginning of the season. It will not come as a surprise to anyone if the Dolphins walk out of MetLife Stadium with a victory on Sunday.
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