Tennessee Titans (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Miami Dolphins (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 9, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, Florida
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: TEN +3.5/MIA -3.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Tennessee Titans come to Hard Rock Stadium to face the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. The 'Fins are hoping for a positive development at home. At 1-3, a win could lend some hope, while another loss would start to put a negative pallor on the season, Adam Gase's first as head coach. They played on Thursday night and are at home with a little extra rest. There was nothing restful, however, about the 22-7 butt-kicking they endured to the Bengals in week 4. Tennessee, meanwhile, came up short in a 27-20 loss at Houston on Sunday, their second 7-point loss in a row, as a semi-promising start to the season has been squandered. The winner of this game will be 2-3, which is a lot more hopeful of a position than 1-4. Expect a good effort from both teams.
The Dolphins started off the season 0-2, but in one-score road losses to Seattle and New England, there was some hope, despite the lack of results. A 30-24 overtime win against the Browns got them in the win column, but giving up a double-digit 4th-quarter lead and needing overtime at home against one of the worst teams in the conference wasn't exactly a great development, either. Against the Bengals on Thursday night, the score doesn't even do justice. Miami was an uncompetitive as you can get. If looking hard for a positive sign, the defense wasn't bad, considering how often they were hung to dry by what was really a sluggish offense.
Miami really struggled moving he ball in week four. Granted, a Cincinnati home defense that was urgent with a 1-2 start is the kind of defense that can shut down an offense like Miami's, but it was still ugly. Miami managed 8 first downs on the night, with most of those coming early. Ryan Tannehill was under 200 yards with a TD and a pick. Early in the first, Miami made it 7-3 and just couldn't get much going after that. With Tannehill connecting with Kenny Stills on a 74-yard TD, they never actually got into the red zone all night.
Looking ahead, there is some hope in the aerial game, with Stills, Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker, and others. Not a ton, but there is hope. But on the ground, the loss of Lamar Miller and the perennially-iffy status of Arian Foster has rendered this rushing attack an afterthought. When your leading rusher has 75 yards through 4 games, there are problems. It's just that their air-attack is not nearly explosive enough to cover up for the absence of a running dimension. It's also fair to say that Ryan Tannehill often leaves a lot to be desired. When things are going according to plan, he can get this offense rolling. But in the NFL and when you're a team trying to climb out of the ranks of irrelevancy, things aren't always going to go well and it would help to have a QB in there who can reverse negative inertia and find a way to create. Tannehill seems like more of a front-running sort, as it seems that his ability to thrive with adversity is lacking for a guy making as much as he is. In his defense, he was playing without 4 starting offensive linemen and that doesn't make it easy for anyone. With a banged-up line and a depleted cast of offensive playmakers, can they find answers?
The Miami defense hasn't been altogether bad. Up-front, they're getting after the quarterback for the most part, but they haven't been that stout against the run. And AJ Green made the secondary look foolish on Thursday. Still, they had Seattle at 6 points until very late on the road in week one. They weren't great against New England or Cleveland, though New England does that to everyone and Cleveland had just 13 points until very late. They haven't been clutch in the 4th quarter in a few spots. But even keeping Cincy somewhat in check with 22 points shows they could make things happen if the other side of the ball cooperated. After a visible Thursday night loss like the one the 'Fins suffered, it can be hard to get people to bet on them. If you had the Dolphins in that game, it was excruciating. But things are never as bad as they seem at their worst. At home against a more-manageable Titans bunch, things could look a little different.
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The Titans fell behind early on Sunday in week 4, as the Texans scored on their first two possessions on Brock Osweiler TD passes. Into the second quarter, they were down 17-3, before a pair of drives capped off by DeMarco Murray TD runs tied it up at 17. But late in the third with the game tied at 20, Houston's Will Fuller returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown and that was the capper. A late Tennessee drive that looked promising ended on downs and that was a wrap. It's important to remember we're dealing with a team that has won five games over the past two seasons. Things are going to unfold slowly for this bunch, but they're not just drifting aimlessly at sea at least. They are developing different things, including a solid running game headed by the resurgent Murray and an assist from rookie Derrick Henry. QB Marcus Mariota was not at his best on Sunday and has turned the ball over 8 times in what can be called a slow start for the second-year former Heisman winner. WR Rishard Matthews had a good game on Sunday and faces his old team this week.
The Titans 'defense isn't bad and they've had some decent showings this season. It would be nice if they could develop more of a playmaking ability after securing just a pair of turnovers on the season. With five sacks through 4 games, the pass-rush has been negligent. They haven't been very stout against the run. They're sort of a very average group that bends but doesn't break. Maybe they can get some positive developments against a Miami offense that doesn't always play mistake-free ball. Both of these teams were angling for better results this season and this is a pivotal game where a team on the rise would like to beat a 1-3 team in this spot. I see a nip-and-tuck affair, as the Titans cover the number.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tennessee Titans plus 3.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Titans vs. Dolphins game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!