Breaking down the game

Nick Saban has never had a losing record as a head coach, and the Dolphins can ensure that streak continues by beating the Tennessee Titans on Saturday. Based on records, it's a game the Dolphins should win, but they should also know that Tennessee is better than you typical 4-10 team.

That should be obvious after last Sunday when the Titans gave the playoff-bound Seattle Seahawks a major battle before losing, 28-24.

In Steve McNair, the Titans have a quarterback who can still do some damage, both with his running and his passing.

What Tennessee hasn't been very good at this season is running the ball, and on top of that their three halfbacks -- Chris Brown, Travis Henry and Jarrett Payton -- will come into Saturday's game with injuries.

That means the Titans figure to try to beat the Dolphins through the air.

And the guys the Dolphins need to pay attention to are the tight ends, Erron Kinney and Ben Troupe. Kinney has been hobbled by a knee injury, but there's a chance he'll play on Saturday. Troupe, meanwhile, is coming off the first 100-yard day of his two-year career.

Tennessee hasn't had that much success throwing the ball deep this season, in part because of the inconsistency of their wide receiver corps, most notably Tyrone Calico.

The Dolphins have given up at least 20 points in each of their last six games, so it's not likely they'll totally be able to shut down McNair and Co., but Tennessee won't be lighting up the scoreboard either.

Offensively, the Dolphins have been on a roll lately, particularly the passing game with Chris Chambers and Marty Booker.

But don't be surprised if this is the week Ricky Williams brings us back to 2002. Ronnie Brown isn't expected to play because of ankle and knee injuries, which means Williams will start and get more carries than he has all season.

The Titans are in the middle of the pack when it comes to run defense, so Williams could be in for a big day.

Seattle beat the Titans through the air last week, so can expect Gus Frerotte to put it up and good deep a few times. The Titans secondary is young and mediocre.

One of the cornerbacks is first-round pick Pacman Jones, and the Dolphins will have to deal with him on punt returns. He had a 52-yard punt return for a touchdown a couple of weeks ago against Houston and is a dangerous returner.

This will mark the second time in two years these teams are meeting on a Saturday afternoon. You may remember last year's game being switched from Sunday to Saturday because of a hurricane threat and then the Dolphins flopping in a 17-7 loss.

They have come a mighty long way since then, and the Titans are about to find out first-hand.


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