By Kennedy Ross
Cold, Hard Football Facts AFC East Overlord (@FNscribeNY)
It seems like every week the Jets are playing for their dignity, respect, and their very lives. The clutter that is the AFC East magnifies already crucial games. All four teams are within a half game to a full game of one another in the standings.
The Dolphins are coming off of a bye week, with a game they should have won against the Jets fresh in their minds. Ryan Tannehill has been getting better at this close game victory stuff. One week away and they have all but been forgotten. The first people they intend to remind are the Jets.
The Patriots have put that unimpressive win against the Jets last week behind them. The victory raised more questions about the team, than confidence in their abilities. The last time they faced an NFC West team, they didn't squeak one out. They were just out.
Here are five things you should be aware of:
1. This one is on Sanchez. (Jets vs. Dolphins)
There has never been a quarterback in recent times under as much weekly scrutiny as Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. The sad part is he doesn't make it hard to scrutinize. While Sanchez threw for 328 yards last week and beat Tom Brady in several key stats, he committed three turnovers. The last of which cost his team the game.
But the terribly interesting part is that he will have to do it again this week. The Dolphins return to the grid iron with the number one rushing defense in the league, according to our Defensive Hog Index. We all know by now that the 161 yards running back Shonn Greene put up against the Colts two weeks ago was a complete aberration.
In fact, the 54 yards he put up against the Patriots last week was the next biggest output he has had all year. So what does a poor running game against the best run defense equal? It equals lots and lots of Mark Sanchez.
Mind you, the Dolphins pass defense is anything to sneeze at either. They are number nine in our Defensive Passer Rating and Defensive Real Quarterback Rating. But this is what Sanchez is supposed to be here for. He is here to save the day when the rest of his team can't cut the mustard.
Now, the other important question is will Tony Sparano let Sanchez go for it. And we say Sparano and not Rex Ryan, because Rex seems to treat offense like the cooties. When he knows its near, he doesn't want to get close to it. They won't get close to a win either with an attitude like that.
2. Pressure is Tannehill's middle name.
His middle name could also be Floyd, but it doesn't fill you with confidence like "pressure". The Dolphins rolled into their bye week on a two game win streak. Both wins were close ones, just like the two losses the preceded them.
Those string of outcomes leads one to believe the Dolphins, and more specifically rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill, are learning how to win. All four games were decided by four points or less.
While Tannehill hasn't been blowing up the stat sheet, he has been learning under fire. Tannehill is beginning to show a winners mentality and never say die attitude. Some New York fans may find those qualities enviable in a quarterback.
The best friend of a rookie quarterback is the run game. Well, so far this year Tannehill must have seen his best friends girlfriend naked or something because the running game has not been that helpful. Running back Reggie Bush has had a sub par season thus far. His nagging injuries have retarded his ability to get into a groove. He doesn't even have 100 rushes yet.
But Tannehill plays well with others. His surrogate best friend is the Dolphins defense. They started out slow giving up 30+ points in their first two games. But in their last two games they didn't give up 15 points in either game. This bodes well against a sporadic Sanchez and a sputtering Greene. Looks like three in a row.
3. Pats will make Rams pay for the sins of their brothers. (Patriots vs. Rams)
Tea and crumpets. Strawberries and cream. Steak and kidney pudding. The only thing more Un-American than that is Patriots losing in limey town. This is just what the Patriots needed, to get away from it all. Well, at least to get away from all the chatter that they are falling apart.
When you have achieved so much, even winning the "wrong way" will get you blasted in the media. The fact remains that Tom Brady and the Patriots just doesn't make your sphincter shrink like they used too.
Sure Brady lead a critical drive at the end of the Jets game last week, but the Jets practically handed them first downs with an after dinner mint on them. Who retreats six yards against receivers who have been catching five yard passes all day long?
The looks on the Patriots faces last week said it all. "We don't like winning this way". If their defense continues to stink, they will have no choice. The Patriots wallow down at number 27 on our Defensive Passer Rating index.
Much like the rest of the NFC West, the Rams strength lies with its defense. While the New England run game has surprised everyone this year, the Rams have been almost as equally as impressive at stopping the run. Looks like guess who is going to have to be the difference in this game.
Tom Brday seemed to take the Jets (ugly) win personally. Add to that the loss he took at the hands of the last NFC West team he faced and look out Brits. Brady will look to put on a show for his international audience.
4. Jets flirting with home field.
Surely Jets coach Rex Ryan will make yet another impassioned plea to Jets Nation to back up their team this week. It seems Ryan is always begging for the fans to show support. There must be a reason why the fans need urging to support this ball club. Oh yeah, its because they are a disappointment.
New york fans get tired really quickly of false hope, mediocrity, and stupidity. The golden child Tim Tebow gets booed now when he trots onto the field after a couple of two yards run plays.
For the Jets to actually have a home field advantage, they have to perform well, and quickly. They can't let Tannehill start converting third downs all over the place. They can't keep settling for field goals after a first and goal. And they can't keep going three and out.
The Jets have never swept Miami on Rex Ryan's watch. The Dolphins not only play the Jets tough, but they have won some key games in the past. This would be considered a key game. They need to establish consistancy to constantly get that support they crave, and will need.
5. You should sleep well knowing . . .
. . . Rex Ryan thinks Reggie Bush owes Darrell Revis an apology. Ryan should have Bush write him an apology he can tell the Jets fans for this loss coming up while he's at it.
. . . Mark Sanchez and Eva Longoria have broken up. Rumor has it she told him he is too immature and his completion percentage was too low. At least she has her standards.
. . . Tom Brady said he is going to be all business when he is in London. Aside from the game, he will be scouting a new signature haircut. He has his eye on the palace guards.