Amid the controversy that’s swelling around the Miami Dolphins this week, this Sunday’s match-up against the Tennessee Titans has been anything but a distraction from the realities of this fallen empire. As the news has settled, we’ve tried to become hopeful that Chad Pennington will help lead this team into the playoffs this year. We’ve tried to believe that Chad Henne should’ve been benched rather than Den Henning. With that said, we must accept the situation and move forward.
The Titans look impressive coming off their bye week with a 5-3 record and notable wins against the Philadelphia Eagles at home in week 7 and the New York Giants at the Meadowlands in week 3. While running back Chris Johnson himself is a force to be reckoned with – leveraging the rushing offense of the Titans to 10th in NFL – the Titans passing offense is only ranked 26th. The acquisition of big time receiver Randy Moss poses the question to the Fins whether they should play safe against Moss or Johnson. On top of that, the Titans rank 1st overall in points score. I only see Moss contributing to that number, not hindering it.
The Dolphins have the 12th rushing defense in the NFL behind Cameron Wake and Karlos Dansby, both coming off big games last week against a very good Baltimore Ravens offense. Breaking a big run against the Dolphins won’t be easy for Johnson as they’ve allowed just two runs of 20 yards or more – third fewest in the league. However, the rest of the Miami defense, which is ranked 16th overall in passing yards allowed, must tackle better. Miami has given up nine plays of 25 yards or more through the air the last 4 weeks, which the Titans will look to exploit.
Benching Henne was mostly due to turnovers. To date, he has thrown 11 interceptions. Pennington will start against a team that ranks 3rd in the NFL with 13 interceptions already this season and is 2nd in the league with points from turnovers. If the Dolphins can contain the turnovers, their chances of winning will exceed expectations.
Last week against the Ravens, who have the 9th overall passing defense in the NFL, the Fins decided to throw 85% of the time, even when the running game scored the only touchdown in the first quarter quicker than you could say it. This week Henning must stick with what works. You’re not fooling anybody Dan; trust me! The Titans passing offense is ranked 23rd and the rushing defense is ranked 14th overall. Even though these stats favor the Dolphins passing game, a balance of passing and running plays would prove successful.
Reports are favoring the Titans to win this match up with a plus-one line going to the Dolphins. If the Fins can look past the implosion of the drama of this week, score some points and reduce turnovers, then this could be their first home win of the season. I hate to feel like I’m asking for a lot here!