The stakes are always high when the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets face off, but this time around the tension between the two AFC East rivals is at an all-time high. Jets safety LaRon Landry called the game a "must win" for New York, while Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said, "It's a big game, no question about it."
But those comments pale in comparison to the war of words that took shape in the week leading up to the game. First Jets coach Rex Ryan said Dolphins Reggie Bush should apologize for implying karma led to Darrelle Revis' ACL injury. Then Mike Pouncey called Jets LB Aaron Maybin "a joke." These two teams definitely do not like each other.
Sunday's game will be key for both teams, hoping to keep pace with the 4-3 Patriots in the AFC East race. "I get excited for every game," Dolphins QB Tannehill said this week, "but a division game against the Jets in New York is really exciting."
When the Dolphins have the ball: The Jets' weakness happens to be one of Miami's biggest strengths. New York has the third-worst rushing defense in the NFL, while Miami's running game is 11th in yards per game.
Reggie Bush has been slow since suffering a knee injury against the Jets in Week 3, but with last week off could be in a better position to make a big impact.
New York is without All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis, and with losshill improving over the past few weeks that could give him a chance for a breakout game. His completion percentage has risen in each of the past three weeks since the looss to the Jets.
He doesn't expect an easy game, though. "It's the same guys minus one guy," Tannehill said. "They're playing more zone coverage now, which is the biggest major change, but they still throw exotic blitzes at you. They'll play man. They still play a lot of man, just not quite as much as they did previously."
When the Jets have the ball: The Jets' offense has hit a wall under new coordinator (and former Dolphins coach) Tony Sparano. Only three teams are gaining fewer yards than the Jets, with QB Mark Sanchez sporting a paltry 53% completion rate.
But the Dolphins are still giving up the fourth-most passing yards in the NFL, so Sanchez will certainly have a chance to redeem himself. Starting CB Richard Marshall is still out with a back injury. His replacement, Nolan Carroll, has been picked on by opposing quarterbacks.
The Dolphins have improved at pressuring the quarterback as the season progresses, with 18 sacks by the team (10th in the NFL). Keeping the heat on Sanchez will be key to preventing him the Jets from reviving their passing game.
Who has the edge? Week 3's game could have gone either way (Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter missed two field goals that could have won the game), and the rematch appears similarly balanced. The Dolphins can steal a game on the road if they can avoid turnovers.
The pick: Dolphins 24-Jets 20
Details: Miami Dolphins (3-3) at New York Jets (3-4)
TV: CBS, 1:00 p.m., Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Line: Jets by 2
Previously: Jets won 23-20 in Miami in Week 3