Week one of the NFL season is FINALLY here. The Tennessee Titans will be traveling to Miami to take on the Dolphins on Sunday in Mike Vrabel’s first game as the head coach of the Titans. Here are four things to watch for, and a prediction for Sunday’s game.
- The Opponent
The Dolphins are coming off a 6-10 season in 2017, but they are getting their quarterback, Ryan Tannehill back. With Tannehill and running back Kenyan Drake leading the offense, there are playmakers, but there is a glaring weakness on the outside. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry signed with Cleveland, leaving Devante Parker to be the number one wide out in Miami. Kenny Stills is capable of making big plays, but inconsistency has plagued his career. The Titans secondary should assert dominance over those receivers.
It is a similar story for the Dolphins defense. Cameron Wake is a dominant defensive tackle, but there aren’t any elite players on the Miami defense. Matt LaFleur’s new offense has a favorable draw in week one.
- Must win?
The Titans face a gauntlet in weeks 2-4. They come home to face Houston, then go on the road to Jacksonville before coming home to face the Super Bowl champion Eagles. The Titans are more talented than the Dolphins, but if they drop the season opener they could be facing 0-4 in the face. Only one team has ever started 0-4 and made the playoffs, so the Titans need to ensure that they eliminate that possibility. A win over the Dolphins could give the Titans important momentum and confidence to take on, and beat, the Texans and Jaguars.
- Mariota, Mariota, Mariota
The hopes’ of the Titans 2018 season sit firmly on the right arm of Marcus Mariota. All offseason, the narrative has been the Titans offense, especially Mariota, will be better under offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur. We saw flashes of a good offense in the preseason, but the first-team offense struggled greatly in week three. Week one will be our first chance to see if Mariota is really going to take the next step in his career.
- Who wins?
Titans 31 – Dolphins 17
The Titans are more talented than the Dolphins, and they should win this game convincingly. In the past, the Titans have played down to opponents who they should easily beat. If this really is a new era for the Titans, they should have no problems dispatching the Dolphins. Expect the Titans to jump out to an early lead and roll to a convincing win. A win in this game can give the Titans huge momentum into the toughest part of the schedule. A loss would be a bad sign for the rest of the season.
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