NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans need a win. The team is mired in a three-game losing streak heading into Sunday's game against the Dolphins.
The Dolphins (1-3) know the feeling. They've also lost three straight after a season-opening win.
Here's a look at five keys/things to watch in Sunday's game:
The Titans have stumbled out of the gate on a few occasions this season. They fell behind 21-0 in Cleveland, and 14-0 against the Colts. While the Titans rallied, they ended up losing both games. The Dolphins have really struggled early. They've been outscored 37-3 in the first quarter, and by a combined 77-27 in the first half of their four games. The Titans can't afford to give the Dolphins a reason to get excited early. Jumping on them early is key.
Mariota starts 2nd quarter
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota didn't play a bad game against the Bills, but he failed to throw a touchdown for the first time all season, and he posted a season-low passer rating. He admittedly missed on some throws in the contest. The Titans need Mariota to play well against a Miami defense that's struggled in the secondary in the first four games. After four games, it's the start of the second quarter for the team, and Mariota. Will Mariota continue to use his legs like he did last week?
Match Miami's intensity
The Dolphins have lost three straight games, and they're coming off a bye. Following a loss to the Jets in London, Dolphins ownership fired Joe Philbin, and replaced him with interim head coach Dan Campbell. Since, Campbell has preached toughness, and setting a mindset. He wants his football team to play with an attitude. The Titans should expect a motivated Miami team ready to make a statement in Campbell's debut. They need to match their intensity from the get-go.
Run the ball
The Dolphins are ranked 32nd in the NFL in rushing defense, allowing 160.5 yards per game. Three of Miami's four opponents have run for over 150 yards. The Jets racked up 207 on the Dolphins in the team's last game, with running back Chris Ivory running for 166. The Titans have the NFL's 14th best rushing attack, averaging 118.8 yards per game on the ground while using a number of backs. The Titans need to establish the run in this one to take the pressure off Mariota.
Keep Suh quiet
The Dolphins signed defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh to a whopping $114 million contract during the offseason with the idea that he'd be a disruptive playmaker up front. So far, Suh hasn't made much of an impact. He doesn't have a sack, and he's been credited with just 10 tackles in four games combined. The Dolphins have just one sack as a team through four games. They've been hearing about it all week in Miami. The Titans interior offensive line will be tested by the big man. Can they keep him quiet?