Traveling to London in Week 4 came at the perfect time for the Miami Dolphins. Head coach Joe Philbin and the Dolphins are taking a lot of heat for their 41-14 loss at home to the Buffalo Bills last weekend. This week, the Dolphins will play a designated home game in London's Wembley Stadium against one of their biggest rivals, the New York Jets.
In Week 3, the Jets suffered their first loss of the season as they fell to the Philadelphia Eagles 24-17 at MetLife Stadium.
New York holds a 51-47-1 (including postseason) advantage over Miami in the series. The last time the two teams met was in the 2014 season finale when the Jets defeated the Dolphins 37-24 at Sun Life Stadium.
New York at Miami (London)
Kickoff: 9:30 a.m. ET (Sunday)
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Jets -1.5
Three Things to Watch For
1. Dolphins' defense
After three games, the Dolphins' defense ranks among the worst in the NFL. Miami is currently 26th in total defense and 31st against the run. Rookie Jordan Phillips has the team’s lone sack on the season. Ndamukong Suh, who the Dolphins gave a $60 million signing bonus to last offseason, has been a huge disappointment so far.
Suh, who was supposed to improve Miami’s defense, has seven tackles and zero sacks on the young season. The defensive tackle says opposing offensive lines aren’t playing him any differently than they have in previous seasons.
“People have different concepts and different things that they want to do,” said Suh. “I said before, people don’t sign a contract and do exactly what they say they are doing on film and show what they do on film. Each and every time you go out there, you’re going to expect something different, but also want to look for tendencies or things that they like to do. At the end of the day, you just go with what you’re given.”
Jets head coach Todd Bowles expects running back Chris Ivory to play in Week 4. If New York can establish a running game of some kind, that will take pressure off of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense. Miami has given up an average of 145 rushing yards per game this year, so New York should be able to have success running the ball.
2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Against the Eagles last week, Fitzpatrick finished 35-of-58 for 283 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions and with a 26.8 total quarterback rating. According to Pro Football Focus, the quarterback has completed just three of 20 pass attempts on passes of at least 20 yards in the air.
Miami has one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Brent Grimes patrolling one side of the field, but Brice McCain is the team’s other starting corner. Last week, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw at McCain 10 times while completing six passes for 100 yards.
Expect Fitzpatrick and the Jets to take some shots down the field with receivers Brandon Marshall and Devin Smith.
3. Miami's offensive line
The Dolphins offense has gone against two excellent defensive lines the last two weeks in Jacksonville and Buffalo. It won’t get any easier this week as the Dolphins offensive line will have to find a way to block the stout Jets defensive line.
The past three seasons, the Dolphins offensive line has been the team's major issue and it remains an issue in 2015. Branden Albert has been dealing with a hamstring injury for a better part of this season. Guards Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas have been mediocre at best.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked seven times in six games and he has been pressured nearly every time he is in the pocket. Not only has the Dolphins passing game been suffering from the poor play of the offensive line, but so has their running game.
Miami is averaging 72.7 rushing yards per game, which is the 27th best in the NFL. The Jets rank fourth in overall defense through three games, so the Dolphins offensive line could have a tough day against on Sunday.
Miami could easily be 0-3 to start the season. They needed a punt return by Jarvis Landry to beat the Redskins in Week 1 and have lost back-to-back games to the Jaguars and Bills. Last year, when the team was facing similar criticism from the media, they went to London to play the Oakland Raiders and won the game 38-14. This year’s Jets team is superior to that Raiders team the Dolphins played last year.
If Ivory can play Sunday, he could have a similar performance that he did in Week 1 when the Jets defeated the Cleveland Browns 31-10. He ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the win. No matter if it is Ivory or backup Bilal Powell, the Jets will need to establish the run.
New York defensive line should have a field day against a weak Dolphins offensive line. The Dolphins line will have problems keeping defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams in front of them.
The Jets’ pressure should force Tannehill to throw the ball before he wants to and that will create more interception opportunities for cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie. Look for New York’s secondary to pick off Tannehill multiple times and maybe force a fumble as well.
Prediction: Jets 31, Dolphins 17
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.