The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets kickoff this afternoon in a renewal of their AFC East rivalry. What would’ve been a tight divisional matchup between two of the NFL’s most improved teams, has been soured by the injury of Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. However, with Teddy Bridgewater set to start in Week 5, Sunday should still be a fantastic game between these two bitter rivals.
The Jets are coming off a big road 24-20 victory over the Steelers in Week 4, while the Dolphins fell 15-27 to the Bengals on Thursday Night Football.
Who’s Got The Edge?
QB - Dolphins. Even with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, the Dolphins still possess the edge under center. Zach Wilson, although talented, has yet to show signs of maturity since entering the NFL. Not only has he already missed 3 games this season, but he’s also thrown at least 1 interception in 7 of his last 9 starts. Bridgewater, although much less flashy, is simply better equipped to lead his team to a victory. He’s the more accurate quarterback, has better ball security, and is much calmer under pressure.
RB - Jets. Miami’s run-game has been a disappointment this year, with Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds combining for a measly 232 yards on 67 carries (3.4 yards per carry). Meanwhile, the Jets’ leading rushers Breece Hall and Michael Carter have put up 315 yards on just 75 carries (4.2 yards per carry) so far this season. Individually and as a unit, I’d have to give the edge to New York.
WR - Dolphins. Ah yes, the weekly question of “Are X and Y better than Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle?” Well, X and Y this week are Elijah Moore and Garret Wilson, but the answer is still a resounding no.
TE - Jets. Mike Gesicki is simply not the same player he was a year ago, or at least he’s not being used that way. He’s only managed 6 catches for 64 yards this season, and continues to struggle as a blocker. On the other hand, the Jets’ Tyler Conklin has started the season tremendously well, posting 21 catches (5th-most) for 192 yards (9th-most), and 1 touchdown.
OL - Dolphins. Miami’s offensive line keeps getting better every week, while the Jets’ offensive line has looked worse and worse with each passing game. The Dolphins have allowed the 4th-least sacks this year, while the Jets rank 21st. And although the Jets have had more success running the ball than the Dolphins, I believe that’s due to the talent of Michael Carter and Breece Hall, not necessarily the Jets’ offensive line.
DL - Dolphins. Neither team has excelled in getting to the quarterback this year, with the Dolphins managing 7 sacks to the Jets’ 8.
However, Miami is slightly better against the run, allowing 415 yards on the ground to New York’s 435. The Dolphins have also only allowed 24 rushing first-downs, compared to the Jets’ 30. Again, neither group has been particularly great this season, but the Dolphins have more to show for it.
LB - Jets. Normally, I’d write that Miami’s linebackers are great at stopping the run, but how their weaknesses lie in coverage. However, recent evidence suggest that the Dolphins’ linebackers aren’t actually good at either of these things.
Starting linebacker Elandon Roberts ranks as one of the worst linebackers in the NFL in terms of missed tackles, and Pro Football Focus has him graded at an awful 42.7 rating this season. At the same time, the Jets’ C.J. Mosley and Kwon Alexander have done fairly well this season, managing 60 combined tackles between the two of them this season. Almost by default, the Jets have the edge here.
DB - Dolphins. Even banged up, I still trust the likes of Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland, and Nik Needham over the relatively unproven Sauce Gardner and Michael Carter III. The Dolphins secondary has allowed the 2nd-most passing yards in the league so far, but I believe that’s more to do with the play-calling from defensive-coordinator Josh Boyer, rather than any limitations in the secondary.
Special Teams - Jets. Dolphins kicker Jason Sanders has started this season well, converting 11 of his 12 extra point attempts (91%) and 5 of his 6 field-goal attempts (83%). However, Jets’ kicker Greg Zuerlein has made 100% of his extra point attempts, and is also 7/8 on field goals (3/3 from 50+ yards).
Which Matchups Will Decide The Game?
1) Dolphins’ Front-4 vs. Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson isn’t exactly Joe Montana under pressure, as has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL against the blitz since he entered the league.
However, Dolphins’ defensive-coordinator Josh Boyer has dialed back his aggressive play-calling in recent weeks, largely due to the lack of solid secondary play. As a result, the Dolphins have struggled to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks this year, ranking 29th in total sacks (7). Hence, the Dolphins’ front-4 will likely need to get to Zach Wilson by themselves in Week 5, without additional help from linebackers or defensive-backs. But, if Miami’s defensive line can get in Wilson’s face and knock off his rhythm, they should have no problem winning on Sunday. Get to Wilson, force some turnover, and the Dolphins will be absolutely fine.
2) Jets’ WRs vs Dolphins’ Secondary
The Dolphins secondary is incredibly banged up, with Byron Jones set to miss tomorrow’s game and Xavien Howard battling multiple groin injuries. And although Kader Kohou and Jevon Holland have performed exceptionally this season, Elijah Moore and Garret Wilson are more than capable of torching the Dolphins down the field.
Miami has given up 1,197 passing yards so far this season (31st in the league), which shows how open this secondary can be at times. If the Jets can take advantage of Miami’s injuries and weaknesses in the secondary, it could be a long day for the Dolphins defense.
At the end of the day, I trust Teddy “Two-Gloves” Bridgwater more than I do Zach Wilson, and I think that’s what the game will come down to. I expect more than a few turnovers from Wilson and the Jets on Sunday, and I believe it’ll cost New York the game.
So, what do you see happening on Sunday? Will the Dolphins improve to 4-1, or are the Jets ready to play spoiler? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!