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The Miami Dolphins have a chance to do something on Sunday that they haven’t done since December of last year, and that’s win consecutive games.  Last December Miami had a three game winning streak and needed just one win in their final two games to clinch a playoff spot.  Well, we all know how that story ended but now it’s a new season and Miami is a much different looking team.

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The Dolphins team that scored one touchdown during its final two games last year is long gone.  The current version of the Dolphins has an offense that is growing more confident and more potent with each passing week.  They’ll face a tough test on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars and their surprisingly stingy defense.  If Miami’s offense can keep the good times rolling, they should be able to get out of Jacksonville with their second win in a row.  Here are the Dolphins keys to victory over the Jags this weekend.

Take advantage of a banked up Jacksonville defense

During the first four weeks of the season Jacksonville gave up an average of 38 points per game.  In the three games since however, the Jags D has surrendered just 39 total points and given the team a chance to win each week. While Jacksonville got their first victory of the season last week against Cleveland, the win came at a price.  They lost leading tackler and defensive captain Paul Posluszny for the remainder of the season with a torn pectoral muscle.  Defensive end Andre Branch injured his groin and will miss six weeks, leaving the Jags defense without two of its main contributors.

Get in Blake Bortles’ face

(Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

(Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Sure, Jacksonville’s defense has been playing very well lately, but unless the offense can put some points on the board it just leaves the team losing low-scoring games instead of getting blown out.  Rookie quarterback Blake Bortles has been the Jaguars guy since taking over for Chad Henne after halftime of their Week 3 loss to the Colts, and the team has been very patient while the NFL freshman works through the adjustments that any first-year player goes through.  Last week was the first time this season that Jacksonville scored more than 17 points, putting three touchdowns on the board in a 24-6 win over Cleveland, though it may have been the worst game of Bortles young career.  He went 17 of 31 for just 159 yards, throwing one touchdown and three interceptions while being sacked twice. The struggling Jags offense will have their hands full trying to move the ball on a very stingy Dolphins defense that has been playing quite well of late.  Look for Kevin Coyle to come up with a gameplan that will make Bortles’ day a very difficult one.

Get off to another quick start

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Last week in Chicago the Dolphins scored just their second first quarter touchdown of the season and took a 14-0 lead into the halftime break.  Both the offense and the defense played well from the start, taking the Soldier Field crowd out of the game right from the get-go.  This week Miami plays a Jacksonville team that has much less talent than the Bears.  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who had his best game as a pro against last week, has a chance to show that he can in fact be a consistently productive QB.  If the Dolphins can jump on the Jaguars right out of the gate, it could demoralize a team that has lost six games by an average of 17.3 points.

Success in the red zone

Lamar Miller #26 of the Miami Dolphins celebrates his touchdown during the third quarter of the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 19, 2014 in Chicago. (Source: David Banks/Getty Images)

(Source: David Banks/Getty Images)

Jacksonville has the second ranked red zone defense in the NFL, an area that the Dolphins have had their ups and downs.  Miami head coach Joe Philbin spent a good portion of Thursday’s practice working on red zone efficiency.  All three of the Dolphins touchdowns last week in Chicago came from inside the red zone, so if they can continue having that kind of success moving forward it will bode very well towards not only a win on Sunday, but several more in the coming weeks.

Win the turnover battle

Another thing that the Dolphins have been putting a big emphasis on in recent weeks is winning the turnover battle.  They did so last week, finishing the game with three takeaways on defense while being in full control on offense and not turning the ball over once.  Miami ranks in the middle of the league with an even turnover differential, creating eleven turnovers while having the same amount of giveaways. On the other hand, Jacksonville has the second-worst turnover ratio in the league at minus-eight.  Their seven takeaways are grossly overshadowed by the 15 times they’ve turned the ball over.  Quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown 10 interceptions despite playing in just five games this season, including three picks in their victory over Cleveland last week.

Watch Miami take on the Jacksonville Jaguars this Sunday at 1 p.m. on CBS4, your official Dolphins station!

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