AFC East

Dolphins vs Titans Preview: Miami’s Road Test

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Xavien Howard is key to Dolphins Chances Against Titans on Road

What Does Seven in a Row Mean?

Seven wins a row is not something that would make any team less than ecstatic. Outside of the Ravens Miami has beaten: the Texans, Jets twice, Panthers, Giants, and Saints. Only the Saints were even .500 when the Dolphins played them. Are the Dolphins closer to the team that won or lost seven in a row, including to the Falcons and Jaguars? Against the Titans, Miami’s toughest road test in the second half of the season, the Dolphins will find out just how far they have come.

Titans Run Game Will Show If Dolphins Run D Has Improved

Tennessee, even without Derrick Henry, is a physical team. They want to run the football to set up play action, easier throws for Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins did hold a run first team in the Ravens to 64 yards. But outside of that, only one of the other six teams they defeated are in the top half of the NFL in rush yards: the Saints.

The Titans are fourth in rush yards, even without Henry. The Dolphins are seventh in rush defense. This will be the defense’s biggest challenge, because of Miami’s blitzing defense. Can the Dolphins blitz and fill gaps, not allowing holes for big Titans runs?

Dolphins Oline Challenged by Titans Run D

Miami’s short passes are due to concerns over whether the offensive line can hold up consistently against the opposing teams rush. They have the third lowest amount of rushing yards in the league, and second lowest per attempt. The Titans are second in run defense in the NFL. Miami’s O-line is going to have its best game of the season to give the Dolphins a chance to maintain its hold on the last playoff spot in the AFC.

Dolphins Blitz Must get to Tannehill

One place Miami should have an advantage against Tennessee is in their ability to pressure Ryan Tannehill. The Titans have given up the fourth most sacks in the league. The Dolphins have the most sacks in the league. Tannehill has thrown his most interceptions in five years, and the second most in his entire career. Some of that is due to the lack of Henry, and part of it is clearly the amount of pressure he has faced.

The Dolphins blitz has to force Tannehill into making mistakes, and keep him from finding AJ Brown. Xavien Howard is an excellent, Pro Bowl corner, but any help the rush can give him enables him to take risk, ball hawk, and force turnovers. The Dolphins, against better competition have needed those turnovers to score.

Jason Sanders Must Be Clutch

Sanders, who has been a Pro Bowl kicker in the past, has struggled this season. He’s 20-27, and five of his misses are from 40 plus yards. If the Dolphins are going to turn the game into a low scoring, defensive struggle then it may come down to a late field goal. Sanders has come up big for Miami in the past and, given that the Dolphins only average 20.3 points per game, a low scoring, field goal battle, may give them their best chance against the Titans and Patriots the next two weeks.

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