Whew. That last game was. . .something. The good news is, that the Titans will have their chance to get their revenge at home against that team later this season. Now, on to the next game:
Confidence: Jay Cutler, Pass Rush, Offensive Line, Travel
Jay Cutler: Miami's new quarterback has not played well thus far. Despite talks in August about Cutler being an upgrade over Ryan Tannehill, that never seemed realistic. The Bears chose Mike Glennon over him, and no other teams seemed enthusiastic about signing him, leading to his retirement. Now, I think it's starting to show. He has looked a step slow, out of rhythm, and has been inaccurate this season. As a result, Cutler has a perfect 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He may not be completely clicking with his receivers yet, and may have a better 3/4 of the season, but so far the numbers have been poor. The Titans defense may have some turnover opportunities on Sunday, and will need to take advantage.
Pass Rush: A lot of Miami's issues on offense stem from their line. In terms of pass protection, the Dolphins' offensive line is 21st in DVOA, according to Football Outsiders. Unlike the past 2 weeks, Jay Cutler is not exactly a chicken salad master. If the Titans can pressure him, move him off his spot, and try to force some throws on the run, we could see a couple of ill-advised throws that end up in defenders' hands. In terms of run blocking, Miami's offensive line is ranked even lower in DVOA (27th). The Titans have not been great against the run this year, but against this front, they should have more favorable matchup. If they win up front, it will likely mean that Jay Ajayi could not get anything going on the ground, and Jay Cutler turned the ball over once or twice. If that's the case, I'd expect a win.
Offensive Line: This is said on a weekly basis, but I still love hearing it: The Tennessee Titans have a top 5 offensive line in the league. They have consistently kept Marcus Mariota's jersey clean against very challenging defensive fronts every week, giving up only 4 sacks, 2 of which featured statue Matt Cassel as the quarterback. Oh, by the way the Titans' offensive line is ranked 1st in DVOA on Football Outsiders. Conversely, Miami's pass rush is ranked as a bottom 3 unit in DVOA. The Titans have had some TOUGH matchups in the trenches through the first quarter of the season, and this may be some relief for them.
Travel: Imagine being a quarter through season, having traveled all the way to Los Angeles, London, and back without any kind of a break. Oh, and on top of that, you have no bye week, so the whole season is still ahead of you. That is what Miami is going through, and I do not envy their position. Pairing all of that with a poor start to the season, one has to wonder how the team's morale is at this point. This seems like a pivotal game for the Dolphins, and basically it can go 1 of 2 ways--they can quit completely and get ready for a loooooong season, or, well, we will talk about option B in just a second.
Concern: Perimeter Matchups, QB Status, Get right game?
Perimeter Matchups: After last week's defensive performance, it is difficult not to be worried about the idea of facing Devante Parker, Jarvis Landry, and Kenny Stills. This trio was incredibly explosive and a huge reason why the Dolphins were able to make the playoffs last year. Now, despite Jay Cutler's issues, Devante Parker seems to be improved. Logan Ryan should have some familiarity considering the fact the he's faced some of these guys twice a year, for the past few years, but you would be hard pressed to find a Titans fan who is confident about the matchup against this receiving trio.
QB Status: Personally, I believe that Marcus Mariota will play on Sunday. He is too competitive to let a hamstring strain stop him, and you know that this training staff is going to do everything in their power to have him ready to go. He is also a notoriously fast healer. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that he will be 100%. He came in at the end of the second half on Sunday with the strain, and threw an interception. The way the matchups look on paper, this seems to be a game that the Titans will need to win through the air. This is the best run defense that the Titans have faced thus far, according to Football Outsiders. Considering the fact that the run game has not been able to consistently get rolling this year, it seems like attacking this defense through the air is the best bet. If that's the case, then Marcus Mariota will need to be healthy enough to put the team on his back.
Get Right Game?: Oh, option B. I hate you. How many times have we seen the Titans face a struggling team on the road, only for it to be their "Get right game"?. I know that somehow the Colts learn how to play football every time they play Tennessee. A few years back, the Titans served as Miami's get right game, in the infamous Jeremiah Poutasi meltdown Bowl. Frankly, one of the biggest issues with this team over the past 2 years has been playing to the opposing team's level of competition. Facing Kansas City, Seattle, Green Bay? Don't worry, this team will be up. However, the medium-to-small sized games seem to always be concerning for this team. Hopefully, coming off of last week's game won't allow the Titans to be lulled to sleep, but I am just saying, we have seen the get right game before.
Prediction: When I first started typing, I was ready to predict a loss after last week's game. However, the more I looked at the matchups, the more confident I became in this team. The Titans will win in the trenches, and cause turnovers. As long as Marcus Mariota plays, the Titans WILL win. TITANS WIN, 26-14!!!!! BRING ON INDY!