Game Preview: Titans (1-3) and Dolphins (1-3) Set to Battle the Storm in Week Five Matchup
MIAMI, Fla. -- With mother nature possibly not on their side, the Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins will brave the storm in week five, as the two 1-3 teams square off in the center of Hurricane Matthew.
All week doubt had been placed on the game, as Titans' head coach Mike Mularkey, a Ft. Lauderdale native, claimed that the NFL had been in talks to move the game from Hard Rock Stadium in Miami to potentially Nissan Stadium in Nashville.
On Friday the NFL announced the game would be played as scheduled, even with the potential storm coming in on the weekend. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 p.m. (ET) in Miami this Sunday.
Tennessee is coming off yet another loss to the Houston Texans in week four. The 27-20 loss was a sour one to take, as Tennessee committed two crucial fourth down penalties that resulted in two Houston field goals.
The Titans drove the length of the field late last week before turning the ball over on downs. Had the penalties not occurred, Tennessee could have attempted a relatively short field goal to take a 23-21 lead.
Miami is well rested after having played their last game on Thursday Night Football against Cincinnati last week. The Bengals were victorious 22-7.
Week five will be the second consecutive week the Titans will take on a team with an extended rest, as Houston was coming off a Thursday game of their own. Tennessee plays Thursday Night Football against Jacksonville in week eight.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota is looking to snap a two game streak in which he has not thrown for a touchdown pass. Mariota threw for 202 yards and an interception last week.
Running back DeMarco Murray again had a big game against the Texans, as he rushed for 95 yards and two scores. Rookie Derrick Henry only saw the field for nine plays.
Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie called out his receiving core this week, stating they are "impatient", and that they need to let their routes develop more to allow Mariota more chances to make completions.
Wide receiver Kendall Wright made his season debut last week, and Robikie described Wright's outing as "rusty", stating he was consistently short on his routes.
"(Kendall Wright) is coming along," commented Mularkey on Wright's progress. "I think better than last week. I'm not sure he's at the place we need him to be. I think it's game reps, really. As much as we can get him game reps, the better off we'll be."
Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April was let go from his position on Monday. Special Teams Assistant Steve Hoffman will assume April's role for the remainder of the season.
Houston returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown in the week five loss, and Tennessee was also flagged for too many men on the field in the first half, allowing the Texans to move up five yards and kick a field goal instead of punting.
Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed for 189 yards with a touchdown and an interception against the Bengals. Tannehill has a touchdown to interception ratio of 6-5 this year, and is averaging 270 yards per game.
Running back Arian Foster, whom the Dolphins signed this offseason, is doubtful to play Sunday with a hamstring injury. Jay Ajayi will likely get the start.
Miami and Tennessee squared off in 2015, with the Dolphins taking the victory 38-10 in Nashville. Mariota suffered a sprained MCL in the loss after a late hit from linebacker Olivier Vernon. Vernon signed with the New York Giants in the offseason.
These teams squared off in week four of the preseason this year, with Tennessee taking the victory 21-10. Mariota did not play in that game.
Hurricane Matthew is expected to hit Southern Florida hard this weekend, causing Florida governor Rick Scott to urge citizens to evacuate the area. It is unknown how many, if any, fans will be in attendance Sunday.
The NFL discussed the option of moving Sunday's game to Nashville, or even potentially keeping the game in Miami while postponing kickoff until Monday or Tuesday.
Weather problems are nothing new to these two franchises. In 2004, the Titans and Dolphins were scheduled to play in Miami on opening day, but the game had to be played a day earlier on Saturday September 11, 2004 due to a potential storm threatening the area.
All of the next five games on Tennessee's schedule are against opponents with a losing record, creating a chance for the Titans to battle their way back into contention within the AFC South.
GAME DAY INFORMATION
Game Time: Sunday October 9, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Broadcasters: Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker
Referee: Craig Wrolstad
Game Line*: Miami -3.5
*As of Friday October 7
All information provided via www.titansonline.com and espn.com. Stats provided via www.pro-football-reference.com.