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The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets renew one of the NFL's best rivalries on Sunday, when the Jets travel to Sun Life Stadium for the teams' first of two annual meetings. Both are in a four-way tie for first (and last) place in the AFC, and a win Sunday will be crucial for either team in what could be a hotly-contested division.
"It's going to be packed," RB Reggie Bush predicted of Sun Life Stadium, "and it's going to be loud. Obviously Jets and Dolphins fans don't get along, so there will probably be some fights in the stands."
Miami is coming off a blowout win in its home-opener last week, but the Jets appear to be a tougher match-up than the Oakland Raiders. The Jets showed their ability to put up points in a blowout Week 1 victory over the Buffalo Bills, and New York's defense is often regarded as one of the best in the NFL.
When the Dolphins have the ball: With Bush coming off a 172-yard day against the Raiders, the Jets are expected to crowd the line of scrimmage and force rookie QB Ryan Tannehill to beat them with his arm. New York can get away with man coverage in the secondary thanks to CBs Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, one of the best tandems in the NFL.
Revis missed last week after suffering a concussion in Week 1, but he has been cleared to return. "I think you feel good when you have the best player on the field," Jets coach Rex Ryan said, referring to Revis.
Tannehill showed improvement against Oakland, bouncing back from a three-interception day in Week 1. Miami's lightly-regarded receivers will need to get open and give Tannehill a chance to get rid of the ball quickly in the face of the Jets' multiple blitzing fronts.
When the Jets have the ball: Miami has given up more passing yards than all but four other teams through the first two weeks of the season. Luckily for the Dolphins, Jets QB Mark Sanchez is a level below Houston's Matt Schaub and Oakland's Carson Palmer, its first two opponents. Sanchez has completed just 54% of his passes through two games.
But the Jets also have Tim Tebow in offensive coordinator (and former Dolphins coach) Tony Sparano's arsenal. The Jets have used Tebow the same way the Florida Gators did in Tebow's freshman year in college: as a change-of-pace quarterback who can run the power option and occasionally pass.
Tebow might not see much action against the Dolphins, though, as Miami's porous pass offense practically begs opponents to throw the ball. Even so, Miami gives up only 2.2 yards per rush, the best in the NFL. Just as the Jets will dare Tannehill to throw the ball, so will the Dolphins do to Sanchez.
Who has the edge? These are two evenly-matched teams that have suffered a harrowing defeat to go with a blowout victory. Whoever can limit turnovers and win the field position battle will likely emerge victorious.
The Pick: Dolphins 24-Jets 20
Details: New York Jets (1-1) at Miami Dolphins (1-1)
TV: CBS, 1:00 p.m., Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
Line: Jets by 1.5
Previously: Dolphins beat Jets 19-17 in Miami in January