Heading into week five of the NFL season, most teams have done enough to show their true colors. For some teams, the picture isn’t pretty. If form holds through week five, both the Tennessee Titans (1-3) and Miami Dolphins (1-3) may be facing an uphill battle if they have any designs on making it to the playoffs.
Going into week four against the Houston Texans, the Titans were sitting last in the league in scoring offense with 14.0 PPG through week 3. This is a concerning trend as they weren’t exactly facing defensive juggernauts in Oakland and Detroit, two teams that sit in the bottom third in the league in scoring defense.
Considering the offense was producing enough yards to maintain a rank of #20 at 357 YPG, one would want to look a little deeper if they wanted to get to the crux of the problem. While there’s plenty of blame to go around, the focus should be placed firmly on second-year QB Marcus Mariota.
Through the first three games, Mariota had a low QB rating of 79.3 with only four passing TDs and 6 turnovers. Coming out of Oregon, where the Ducks had a high-powered offense, Mariota used his legs to create passing lanes. In his first 20 games as an NFL QB, he had difficulty adjusting to the speed of the game.
In Miami, the Miami Dolphins were expected to have its struggles this season under first-year Head Coach Adam Gase. They were coming off a forgettable 6-10 2015 season with several key players moving on in free agency. While they tried to fill the gaps with reliable veterans, the result so far has been anything but inspiring.
Through the first three games, the Dolphins were sitting around the middle of the league on both offense and defense. They lost their first two games to Seattle and New England, which should come as no surprise given the level of talent those two teams possess. A win in week three over the lowly Cleveland Browns in week three should be viewed with skepticism, considering they won by less than a touchdown at home.
At the core of the Dolphins’ problems on offense is the lack of a running game. They have already lost starting RB Arian Foster to injury and back up Jay Ajayi has never shown he could be a first string RB in the NFL. Without a meaningful running game, defenses are getting after QB Ryan Tannehill, who has turned the ball over 5 times and been sacked 6 times through the first three.
From a handicapping perspective, this game figures to be a tough call. Depending on the results from week four, the best online betting sites will probably post a line favoring the Dolphins by less than a field-goal at home. The over/under figures to be about 38, which might be a bit high for two teams that figure to struggle under the lights of Monday Night Football. In close call, The Dolphins get the call as Tannehill figures to be the difference in the game.