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VOL. 41 | NO. 40 | Friday, October 06, 2017

Titans at Dolphins: What to watch

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Sunday, Oct. 8

Noon

TV: CBS (WTVF, Channel 5)

Radio: 104.5 FM

Titans offensive line vs. Dolphins defensive line. The Titans offensive line has to control the tempo in this game, no matter which quarterback – Marcus Mariota or Matt Cassel – plays on Sunday. The likes of Dolphins pass rushers Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake could make life miserable for the Titans QB. It puts the impetus on Taylor Lewan, Jack Conklin and company to get the job done.

Jay Cutler vs. Dick LeBeau’s defense. Cutler was not good as the Dolphins got shut out by the Saints last Sunday in London. LeBeau’s defense was historically bad (for him anyway) Sunday in Houston, getting shredded by DeShaun Watson for five touchdown passes and a rushing score. One or the other – Cutler or LeBeau – should bounce back this Sunday in Miami.

Jarvis Landry vs. Logan Ryan. Ryan was not assigned to DeAndre Hopkins last Sunday. If he draws the assignment of covering Landry this week, he and the Titans cornerbacks have to do a better job in coverage than they did with the Texans receivers.

Four downs

First down. Regroup from last week. The Titans have to hope that last Sunday’s embarrassment in Houston was an aberration and not a sign of more bad things to come. It will be up to Mike Mularkey and the coaching staff to keep things together this week and now allow last week’s terrible performance to linger.

Second down. Figure out the quarterback situation. Will it be Marcus Mariota or Matt Cassel under center on Sunday? The Titans might not know until even Sunday morning. A lot will depend on how Mariota heals, of course and if he is at risk of re-injury. The Titans say they will have a game plan tailored for Mariota and one tailored for Cassel too, just in case.

Third down. Run the ball early, often and well. The Titans had just 86 yards on the ground and 39 of that belonged to Mariota. If Mariota is unable to play, or even if he isn’t 100 percent and does go, the Titans have to run the ball consistently and stay out of long downs and distances to defeat the Dolphins on Sunday.

Fourth down. Win the turnover battle. The Titans were minus-4 in turnover margin on Sunday in Houston. That is a certain recipe for defeat. The Titans have to have the defense force some takeaways, but the offense cannot be so generous as they were against the Texans. Taking care of the football is imperative this week.

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