The Dolphins will need Brandon Marshall to be in full "beast mode" on Sunday against the Jets.
You can clearly tell how Sunday's loss to Cleveland has affected this Miami Dolphin fan base. We're in the midst of "Jets Week" with a road game against a hated rival upcoming on Sunday - and yet there's very little fire and emotion coming from us Dolphin fans. It's obvious how last week's loss has taken the wind out of the sails of this usually hyped rivalry week.
But I'll be honest. A win in the New Meadowlands over the Jets would be really sweet and give us all one week of joy in Dolphin Land.
It won't be easy, though. The Jets are going to come into this game still fuming over their painfully embarrassing loss to the Patriots on Monday Night Football. They will certainly be fired up and ready to attack a division rival who is seemingly limping into their house on Sunday.
Will the Dolphins be up to the challenge? I hope so. And these are two very critical matchups in Sunday's game.
Cameron Wake vs D'Brickashaw Ferguson/Damien Woody
When you think of the Jets' passing attack, many people probably focus in on their 208 passing yards per game average, which is just 21st in the league. Or maybe you think of their paltry 6.6 yards per attempt average, which is the 7th worst figure in the league.
What you probably don't think of is that the Jets have allowed the 7th fewest quarterbacks sacks in the league - only 20 through 12 games. Credit the steady improvement of former first round pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson at left tackle and the toughness of right tackle Damien Woody - who has played particularly well despite playing with a sprained MCL.
Meanwhile, as highlighted yesterday, Cameron Wake has been an absolute beast for the Dolphins this season - leading the league in sacks and holding penalties drawn while ranking second in tackles for a loss and quarterback hurries. However Wake was held in check back in week three when the Jets beat the Dolphins down in Miami. He registered only one tackle and was one of only three games this year in which Wake failed to record at least half of a sack.
Wake will need to be in beast mode both rushing the passer and defending the run on Sunday if the Dolphins want to get some level of revenge for their early season loss.
Brandon Marshall vs Darrelle Revis/Antonio Cromartie
Back in September when these two teams met in Miami on Sunday night, the Dolphins put up over 430 yards of total offense. Much of that was through the air. And most of those passes were from Chad Henne to Brandon Marshall, who was targeted 17 teams.
That week three game remains Marshall's best game as a Dolphin, catching 10 passes for 166 yards and his only touchdown of the season. In fact, Marshall's performance in the second half of that game alone nearly tops any other single-game performance of 2010. In that half, Brandon caught 6 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
But the Jets were without Darrelle Revis on that night - which is part of the reason Henne was so effective at picking up chunks of yards. He threw for a career high 363 yards that night against Antonio Cromartie and a Revis-less Jets secondary.
This time around, Revis will be out there. Meanwhile, Miami's other starting receiver - Brian Hartline - will not be. So we better hope that Marshall is not rusty as he returns to game action for the first time since tweaking his hamstring against the Bears three weeks ago.