NFL 2017 Week 5: Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins preview and prediction

Two AFC teams coming off ugly losses try to right their respective ships in Miami.

The Titans took an absolute beating on the road in Week 4 at the hands of the division rival Texans, losing 57-14 to drop to 2-2. The defense had no answer for Texans rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, who accounted for over 300 yards of total offense and five touchdowns. The Titans briefly showed some life with two second-quarter touchdowns by quarterback Marcus Mariota to cut a 24-point deficit to ten, but they never scored again. To add injury to insult, Mariota left the game in the third quarter with a hamstring injury.

The Dolphins will try to forget their London experience, as they seemingly never got off the plane, suffering a 20-0 shutout loss to New Orleans. The loss was Miami’s second straight and dropped them to 1-2 on the season. Miami’s offense struggled mightily for the second straight game, managing only 186 total yards of offense. Their lone real threat to score ended when Jay Cutler was intercepted in the end zone in the first quarter. The defense played hard but had difficulty containing Saints rookie running back Alvin Kamara, who caught ten passes.

Home at last

The Dolphins are just a makeable missed field goal away by the Chargers from being 0-3, and their two losses have been about as ugly as humanly possible. Their home opener, much-delayed after their opener was canceled by Hurricane Irma, finally takes place on Sunday. Whether or not their fans will be happy to see them is open to debate, but there should be some advantage to finally getting some home cooking.

Cassel on the spot

The Titans loss against Houston was a debacle in just about every area, but the injury to Marcus Mariota could be the most concerning thing about it. As of writing, it is still up in the air whether Mariota’s hamstring injury will allow him to participate. The backup is Matt Cassel, a journeyman veteran who has seemingly played for every team in the league but hasn’t been effective in a long time. That means the Titans will likely rely heavily on their running game in this one.

Weaknesses collide

There might not be two more beleaguered units in the NFL than the Dolphins offense and the Titans defense. Were it not for a garbage touchdown on the final play of the game, Miami would be coming into this game off back-to-back shutouts. Meanwhile, the Titans were absolutely helpless to stop the Texans a week ago. One of these elevens has to find a way to once again be competitive if either of these teams are going to turn things around.

Matchup to Watch: Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi vs. Titans ILBs Wesley Woodyard and Avery Williamson

Ajayi had a great opener against San Diego but has been largely silent in the losses to the Bills and the Saints. If Miami could get him going again, it would mean that Jay Cutler would be able to work off play-action instead of having to carry the offense. Woodyard and Williamson will be tasked with cutting off his running space in the middle of the field, which is where he most likely to operate.

Fantasy Football Tip: Dolphins WR Kenny Stills

Stills is one of those big-play types who disappears for large stretches, full games even, without doing much, and then can suddenly strike for a long touchdown catch. The Titans had a hard time containing Will Fuller last week, a similar type of player, so this could be the week that Stills flashes, making him a good DFS option and even a flex type in redraft leagues.

Betting Line

There is no line on the game at the moment, as Vegas waits to see about Mariota’s availability. Even then this is a tough one to call.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans 21-20 Miami Dolphins

The guess here is that Mariota plays. The Dolphins look broken, so the Titans could spoil their home opener.

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Jim Beviglia


Jim is a freelance writer concentrating on music and sports. He is the author of four books and writes for several online and print publications. He lives in Old Forge, Pennsylvania with his wife Marie and his daughter Daniele.