WHEN THE DOLPHINS RUN THE BALL
The Dolphins running game has progressively been less effective the past three weeks, going from 86 yards against Arizona to 68 yards against Cincinnati to 36 yards against St. Louis. Teams are simply loading up the tackle box against Miami and daring the team to pass. It also hasn’t helped that Reggie Bush has been slowed by a knee injury that forced him to miss some practice time a few weeks ago. But Bush is as healthy as he has been in a month following the bye week and the Dolphins are getting another crack at a team that could not contain their running game in the first meeting. As New York coach Rex Ryan noted, the Dolphins rushed for 185 yards in the teams’ first meeting and that was despite the fact Bush didn’t play the second half because of to the knee injury. The Jets are planning to stop Miami’s rushing attack by basically doing the same thing the past three teams did. It will be up to Miami to make the adjustment. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
WHEN THE DOLPHINS PASS THE BALL
Ryan Tannehill is coming off his most accurate performance of the season, in which he completed 72.4 percent of his passes against St. Louis. Now he has the opportunity to atone for his least accurate game, in which he completed a season-low 44.4 percent of his passes in the first meeting against the Jets. The secondary Tannehill will face this week has morphed since cornerback Darrelle Revis went out for the season with a torn ACL. The Jets are playing less man and much more zone without Revis. Antonio Cromartie is playing well, and Revis replacement Kyle Wilson has been slightly less consistent. The Dolphins are hoping Jabar Gaffney can finally show he’s comfortable enough with the Miami offense to be active for the game. Despite their reputation for pressuring the QB with exotic blitzes, New York is 27th in the NFL in sacks per pass play. ADVANTAGE: Even.
WHEN THE JETS RUN THE BALL
The Jets want to rely on their running game to set up their play-action passes and they have enjoyed good success with this approach because the blocking up front by an otherwise embattled offensive line has improved dramatically in recent weeks and running back Shonn Greene has found something of a comfort zone. Green is 7 of 7 on third-and-1 conversions this season. He also established a career high in rushes (32) and yards (161) against Indianapolis. The Dolphins remain the toughest test the Jets have faced in this department. Miami boasts the No. 4 run defense in the NFL — best among any New York opponent — and the team enters this game fully healthy along the front seven. In the first meeting, the Dolphins were without defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
WHEN THE JETS PASS THE BALL
There’s the good Mark Sanchez, the player who is only the fifth quarterback in the Super Bowl era to earn 30 victories in his first three NFL seasons, including the postseason. And there’s the bad Mark Sanchez, who completes only 53 percent of his passes, has a mediocre 74.6 quarterback rating, and is increasingly the target of discontent among Jets fans because he simply hasn’t performed up to his draft status. Sanchez is without his best receiver — wide receiver Santonio Holmes, who was lost for the season after sustaining a foot injury. But Sanchez also has found his favorite receiver — tight end Dustin Keller — back after missing the first month with various injuries. Keller has played only three games and is averaging three catches per game in those. The Dolphins must lock down Jeremy Kerley, now New York’s best wide receiver, but that might be difficult because of his quickness and the manner in which the Jets move him around the formation. ADVANTAGE: Miami.
The Jets special teams units are typically solid and a reason for New York’s success. They have had three successful fake punts extend drives this year and last week recovered a fumble on a kickoff. But in that same game against New England last week, the team gave up a 104-yard, kickoff-return touchdown that helped cost New York the game. This game marks the second in a row in which the Dolphins face a kicker who hasn’t missed all season. Last time out, Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, perfect before the game, missed three attempts against Miami. Jets kicker Nick Folk has made all 11 of his attempts. Miami’s Dan Carpenter, inconsistent in games against the Jets and Arizona, seemingly righted himself in his last outing, making his only attempt — a 42-yarder. ADVANTAGE: Even.
The Jets are struggling under .500 but it must be said their losses were to Houston, Pittsburgh, New England and San Francisco — all considered playoff-caliber. They gave the Patriots a surprisingly good fight that went into overtime last week and they are showing signs of improvement. The Dolphins similarly are improving, albeit against lesser opponents such as St. Louis. Miami already has lost to New York once and now must prove it can make adjustments and correct the flaws of that loss in the rematch. ADVANTAGE: New York.