Three Things to Watch in Week 5 – Titans vs. Dolphins
Tennessee Titans (1-3) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-3)
The Tennessee Titans are on the road once again as they head towards Hurricane Matthew to face the also struggling Miami Dolphins. Both teams have struggled in the early part of this season, both sitting at a 1-3 record. The Titans lost a close one once again against their AFC South rivals Houston Texans last week after a special teams mistake allowed Will Fuller to return a punt for a 67 yard touchdown.
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The Dolphins got completely outplayed by the Bengals in their primetime matchup last Thursday night. Other than a busted coverage 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, the Dolphins were only able to gain 148 total yards the rest of the game. The Titans have a golden opportunity over the next four weeks to put themselves back into contention for the AFC South. However, they have to take care of business against the Dolphins by utilizing these three key matchups.
First Thing to Watch
- Titans Front-Seven – the Titans defense continued to play well last week against the Texans. While it seems they are using the “bend but don’t break” approach this season, they are making plays when they need to most. Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan have both been the dominant outside linebackers they’re asking them to be when rushing the passer. However, the Titans have continually struggled with covering opposing teams’ tight ends. Last week, C.J. Fiedorowicz caught 4 of 5 targets for 48 yards and a TD in the first half before getting injured. They cannot afford to have this issue continue to happen every week. Luckily, it seems like the Dolphins will be without their starting TE, Jordan Cameron as well as their starting RB, Arian Foster. This is an opportunity the Titans desperately need to take advantage of… the Dolphins do not have a lot of depth at their running back position. While the Dolphins have attempted to use a running-back by committee approach it has ultimately failed four games through the season. Jay Ajayi, Kenyan Drake, Damien Williams, and Isaiah Pead have combined for 194 yards this season. Additionally, the Titans will need to focus on stopping Tannehill from taking off out of the pocket. If Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson can contain him inside the pocket, the Titans could come away victorious.
Second Thing to Watch
Titans Receivers –
if the Titans were to lean heavily on the run game as expected due to the weather/field conditions, they’ll need their receivers to step up when asked upon. The Titans record could be a lot better if it weren’t for mental mistakes/miscommunication from their receivers. While a lot of the national media is questioning what is wrong with Mariota, it is pretty clear the Titans receivers are not giving him anything to work with. When Mariota is at his best, he is able to make plays with his legs and throw on the run. It’s hard to do that when defenses are able to stack the box and press receivers knowing they won’t be able to
beat them deep.
Titans coach Mike Mularkey has benched starting receiver Rishard Matthews for Andre Johnson this week, which is interesting considering Matthews is playing his former team. I think this is Mularkey’s way of trying to light a fire under Matthews to pick his game up. Additionally, the Titans need to utilize Delanie Walker in the middle of the field. He should be fully healed from his hamstring injury that kept him out of a game two weeks ago. If the Titans want to be able to run the ball effectively Sunday, they need to finally have their receivers step up and help Mariota make a play.
Third Thing to Watch
– with Hurricane Matthew imminently approaching the east coast, the Titans may have to worry about ugly weather conditions come Sunday afternoon. In one of the most powerful storms recorded, the NFL is monitoring the playing conditions for multiple games across the league. While it seems to be up in the air on whether the rain will still be in the area on Sunday, Miami is expected to get hit hard which could result in extreme flooding and terrible field conditions.
If this is the case, I expect that both teams will have to lean heavily on their ground game in an attempt to minimize the amount of slips/falls the receivers will have in and out of the cuts. This could work to the Titans advantage as they currently rank in the top 10 in rushing in the NFL. Unfortunately, the one issue I see the Titans continually having this season is when they attempt to be too exotic. The Titans seem to continually fool themselves while the opposing defenses just sit back and watch. If the Titans want to be more successful offensively, they need to get back to the basics.
Prediction: Tennessee Titans 24 – Miami Dolphins 17