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Dolphins vs Jets: Recipe for victory

Continuing on with our preview of the Dolphins' Sunday night's home opener against the Jets (and if you're going, remember what you have to do), it's time to discuss some of the keys to the game. Below are my three keys to the game for the Dolphins. Following each are some thoughts from John B of Gang Green Nation - giving a Jet perspective to each of my three keys.

Read them over below and be sure to head over to GGN to see my Dolphin perspective on John's three keys for the Jets.

1. Win on first down. This is a key for both the Dolphins offense and defense. Offensively, the Dolphins need to gain positive yardage on those early downs to keep themselves out of third and long situations. The Dolphins are just 3 for 14 on third down and six yards or more to go. And we all know that the aggressive Jets defense will bring the house at Chad Henne in those situations. Defensively, the Dolphins have done a good job on third downs, with opposing teams converting only 29% (8 for 28). Conversely, the Jets have been terrible on third downs, converting only 29% (7 for 24). And in third down situations with six or more yards to go, the Jets are just 3 for 11. If the Dolphins can win on first down on both sides of the ball, they will give themselves a great chance to be 3-0 on Monday morning.

John's Rebuttal: I don't really have a ton to add here. The Dolphins have a tough time on third and long. The Jets thrive on it defensively. Life will be much easier for Miami if they can see third and short.

2. Take away Dustin Keller. The Dolphins have had trouble for years covering athletic pass-catching tight ends. Last week against the Vikings, despite some very good coverage at times, Visanthe Shiancoe still caught six balls for 86 yards, creating some big plays down the seam against this Miami defense. Mark Sanchez obviously loves throwing to Dustin Keller. Keller has been targeted on 14 of Sanchez's 51 pass attempts - more than any other player on the roster. He caught seven passes for 116 yards and a touchdown a week ago. But if a combination of Karlos Dansby, Yeremiah Bell, Chris Clemons, and Sean Smith - yes, I think he's going to be a secret weapon in defending Keller on Sunday - can contain Keller, Sanchez will be forced to look elsewhere for completions - which is exactly what the Dolphins will want him to do.

John's Rebuttal: I think the Dolphins are much better equipped to handle a guy like Keller than they were a year ago. They have made upgrades at the linebacker and safety positions. Jason Allen's emergence would allow them to use Smith on Keller if Mike Nolan so chose. Keller is a guy with a lot of talent but has not yet shown he can consistently bring it at a high level week to week. In any event, he's not really a game breaker like Dallas Clark. I would say Braylon Edwards is the guy the Dolphins really need to take away. He can change a game in a single play.

3. Open up the offense. With the Jets likely missing Darrelle Revis on Sunday night, the Jets' depth at cornerback will be challenged. Antonio Cromartie moves up to the number one spot and will likely be matched up with Brandon Marshall all game. That's a matchup the Dolphins have to exploit. Cromartie is not too fond of contact and Marshall is one of the most physical receivers in the league. Perhaps even more importantly, Brian Hartline and Davone Bess will be in favorable matchups against New York's third and fourth corners. If there was ever a game to open the offense up and attack down the field, this is it. Let's see how far Chad Henne has come since last year.

John's Rebuttal: I'm not so sure I agree that Bess and Hartline have the edge in their matchups. The Jets established solid depth at corner in the offseason. Rookie Kyle Wilson will start in Revis' place. He had early struggles, but really played well after Revis left last week. Dwight Lowery will become the third corner. He has 15 career starts in 2+ seasons. He doesn't handle speedy receivers well, but Hartline doesn't seem like the kind of guy who will give him a ton of trouble. The Jets will give Cromartie help on Marshall. If Miami has an edge in the other areas, I don't think it is pronounced. The Dolphins are a run first team. I would pound the ball and try to use the September Miami heat to wear down a Jets defensive front that has a lot less depth without Kris Jenkins.

Thanks to John for taking part in these posts the past two days. And remember to head over to Gang Green Nation to see his keys for the Jets and how I respond to each.