KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Fla. TV -- CBS, Andrew Catalon, Steve Tasker, Steve Beuerlein
SERIES HISTORY: 25th regular-season meeting. Miami leads, 19-5. Miami hammered the Titans, 38-10, last seson. The game was an emotional boost for Miami as interim coach Dan Campbell, in his first game taking over for fired Joe Philbin, rallied the team with his hard-as-nails approach to football. The Dolphins showed swag for the first time in a long time.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Hurricane Matthew, which could make landfall in South Florida late Thursday night, could impact the game in some way, whether a change in practice, venue or time. The NFL is monitoring the situation and, so far, there are no plans to move or reschedule the game.
"Our biggest thing is just making sure everybody's being smart," Miami coach Adam Gase said. "We want the safety of our players and our staff and the people in our building to make sure that everybody is doing the right thing, making sure they're putting themselves in a position to where we get everybody back safe and sound The Dolphins planned on giving players the day off Thursday even before the hurricane threat"
The Dolphins offense, meanwhile, is little more than a light breeze. Miami, tied for 29th in rushing yards per game (77.8), must get its running game going. It appears Arian Foster (hamstring) will miss his third consecutive game so the duties will be left to the unproven foursome of Kenyan Drake, Jay Ajayi, Damien Williams and Isaiah Pead in some form or fashion.
The Dolphins remain unbalanced offensively with 138 passes compared to 74 rushing attempts, but with center Mike Pouncey (hip) back in the lineup they should help. Better balance on the offensive attack figures to make Miami better at third down conversions (26.7 percent, last in the NFL), too.
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill was sacked five times in the team's Week 4 loss to Cincinnati. Since his debut in 2012, Tannehill was sacked five or more time in 13 games, the most of any quarterback in the league.
Last week, the Titans fell to the Texans, 27-20, after yielding 359 total net yards to Houston at NRG Stadium (244 in the air and 115 on the ground). Tennessee has now allowed 300 or more yards in a franchise-record tying 13 straight games, and has gone 3-10 in those games.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Dolphins' third-down offense vs. Titans' defense. Miami has blamed many of its offensive woes on its inability to convert third downs (26.7 percent, last in NFL). The Dolphins struggle on pass protection (11 sacks allowed, tied for 7th-worst) and on the ground (77.8 yards per game, 29th in NFL). That means they must overcome their patterns to show progress.
--Dolphins' pass rush vs. Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota. Miami's 10 sacks are tied for ninth in the NFL. But the pass rush hasn't yet taken over a game. DEs Cam Wake (1.0 sack) and Mario Williams (1.0 sack) haven't yet flexed their muscle. DT Ndamukong Suh (1.5 sacks) has been impressive but more against the run than the pass. Miami's blitz packages haven't yet been effective as many teams have utilized three-step drops to minimize the pass rush risk. Miami must find a way to make its best asset a factor.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dolphins CB Byron Maxwell -- After being torched by Browns QB-turned-WR Terrelle Pryor, Maxwell was benched in favor of second-year CB Tony Lippett against Cincinnati. That the plan didn't work well. Bengals WR A.J. Green had 10 receptions for 173 yards on Lippett and rookie CB Xavien Howard. On Wednesday Howard Howard didn't practice because of a sore knee. Coach Adam Gase clearly wasn't happy with Maxwell but he is clearly a better player than Lippett. It's an interesting dilemma for Gase.
FAST FACTS: Titans RB DeMarco Murray leads Tennessee with 19 receptions. He is the only running back who leads his team in receptions this season, and he could become the first Titan to do so since Chris Johnson (44) in 2010. ... Miami has been outscored 59-23 in the first half of its four games this season and trailed at halftime in each game.
PREDICTION: In a game between two teams that lose more than their share, not sure if we are picking who we expect to win or who we expect to lose.
OUR PICK: Titans, 21-17