Make no mistake. This is a make-or-break game for both teams in this week's matchup between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets. The winner will be one step closer in their quest to make the playoffs, while the loser will begin to see their dreams slowly evaporate.
At the beginning of the season the Miami Dolphins had plans to gatecrash the playoff party, while the New York Jets were expected to only scramble a couple of wins in a blow-out season. Now we find both teams at 5-6, and each one hoping to end the other's offseason plans. But which team will end up in tears?
The main concern for the Dolphins in this game will be New York's defensive front. They will be a tough matchup for Miami's leaky offensive line. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the NFL this season, having been taken down 44 times. That number may only increase if Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson cause havoc up the middle. And don't forget Quinton Coples. He's New York's most athletic defensive end. Lets hope he doesn't take advantage of our poor offensive tackle play from Bryant McKinnie and Tyson Clabo. If the Jets overpower Miami in the trenches, Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins will be in trouble.
Having said that Miami should have enough firepower to get over the line. Despite the loss last week to the Carolina Panthers, Tannehill looks like he's finally connected with star wide receiver Mike Wallace. Mike Wallace has speed to burn, and will rip apart New York's defense if Tannehill can get him the football. When Brian Hartline and up-and-coming players Charles Clay and Rischard Matthews are added to the party, Miami has the potential to do some serious damage through the air.
On the flipside of the coin, the Jets have struggled on offense. Many forget that Geno Smith has been sacked the second most in the league with 37, providing an opening for Cameron Wake and co. to get to the quarterback. But even better news for the Dolphins is Smith's performance during the last 6 games - 1 touchdown pass and 10 interceptions. Let that thought settle in your mind.
The battle in the trenches may just turn out to be the key to which team wins this ballgame. Somehow Miami's patchwork offensive line has managed to keep Tannehill upright over the past few games. With the loss of Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin, things could have been much worse. On the other side of the football, I just can't see Geno Smith having much success against our defense. For this reason Miami may just sneak over the line and claim victory over their arch- rivals.
Miami Dolphins 20-10 New York Jets.