Dolphins vs. Titans: What's the Game Plan for Tennessee?

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2015

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 27:  Running back Dexter McCluster #22 of the Tennessee Titans carries the ball during a NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at Nissan Stadium on September 27, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images)
Ronald C. Modra/Sports Imagery/Getty Images

It will be a matchup between a pair of 1-3 teams desperate for wins, with the Titans still having the most to gain in a division that's still very much up for grabs.

The Titans may be the better team on paper, but not protecting the football will be the biggest factor in allowing the Dolphins to hang around.

Offensive Game Plan

The play-calling on offense has been under scrutiny since last week's rough loss to the Bills, with the Titans taking the very conservative route up until the final play of the game.

The Dolphins finally present a favorable matchup for the Titans offense. 

However, being too conservative will allow the Dolphins to hang around and possibly sneak out with a win at the last second. The Titans have become all too familiar with that ending.

The Titans need to center the game plan around Marcus Mariota and getting the ball to their playmakers in space. That means players like Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas and Antonio Andrews need to get plenty of offensive touches.

Even though the Dolphins haven't been producing the sacks to prove it, they're still loaded with talent that could end up putting some serious pressure on Mariota in the backfield.

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Mariota needs to get the ball out of his hands quickly and have some designed runs to keep the Dolphins defense off balance.

The Titans will have plenty of success if they establish a passing game early, and then employ their committee of running backs to control time of possession.

A top cornerback could also be out with injury for the Dolphins, per John Glennon of the Tennessean:

For Dolphins, starting T Branden Albert and starting CB Brent Grimes are questionable. #Titans

— John Glennon (@glennonsports) October 16, 2015

There's no reason why the Titans shouldn't be able to put up 30-plus points and win this game comfortably. 

Defensive Game Plan

If you take out the handful of defensive breakdowns in their three losses, then you would have to say this defense is playing close to an elite level. They're actually leading the NFL in passing yards allowed per game at 167.

With the Dolphins struggling so much, the Titans should have no problem keeping the score low. 

Ryan Tannehill still has the NFL arm to make plays, but his decision-making and lack of leadership has made the Dolphins one of the most inept offenses in the NFL. He will come out with a major chip on his shoulder, and the Titans have to feed off of that by forcing him into poor decisions.

The pass rush for the Titans has been superb through four games, with Jurrell Casey leading the charge. Again, the Titans need to be aggressive and not allow Tannehill to get comfortable in the pocket.

Putting an enormous amount of pressure on Tannehill should be easily accomplished from a unit that is the most efficient in the NFL at sacking the quarterback, per Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com:

— Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) October 16, 2015

It should be another big outing from Casey and Derrick Morgan.

The Titans need to prove they can stop the big plays from happening. Even the worst NFL teams can pull out wins if defenses bail them out by allowing a couple big plays to swing momentum.

Both the Bills and Colts were bailed out by an otherwise successful defensive effort by the Titans.

There is virtually no running game for the Titans to worry about in this matchup, with Lamar Miller being their primary rusher. The most capable Dolphins player who could burn the Titans deep is Rishard Matthews. Keeping tabs on him and not allowing him to take over the game will go a long way in putting the Dolphins offense in neutral.

Jason McCourty should be back to full game shape in his second game back from injury, so he'll get the assignment of shutting down one of the very few offensive weapons the Dolphins have.

It's unclear if Perish Cox will available as he's dealing with a sore hamstring, per Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com.

The secondary has had their fair share of collapses in this young season, so not having Cox would be a concerning blow to this defense.

Final Prediction

This is the perfect game to reverse all of the negative vibes that accompany a three-game losing streak. An aggressive approach on both sides of the ball is critical in a game like this. 

How the Titans handle the pressure of actually being the favorite is something that will be interesting to see. They can't take the conservative route and hope the Dolphins beat themselves. If they do that, then the Dolphins will stick around and have a chance to send the Titans to another defeat.

The Titans are just too talented to not eventually get over the hump and produce a win, and there's no better team to do it against than the Dolphins. This game may be close at halftime, but the Titans will finally protect a lead and win in relatively comfortable fashion.

Titans 21, Dolphins 13