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The Miami Dolphins look to bounce back from last week's loss with a home date against the Tennessee Titans. The 3-6 Titans have lost two in a row, but feature one of the best running backs in the game in Chris Johnson.
The Titans are coming off an embarrassing 51-20 loss against the Chicago Bears that prompted team owner Bud Adams to say this week, "In my 50 years of owning an NFL franchise, I am at a loss to recall a regular-season home game that was such a disappointment for myself and fans of the Titans."
With a win, the Dolphins can keep pace with the New England Patriots, who hold a one-game lead in the AFC East standings. "We've had some good games, some not-so-good games, and some bad games," QB Ryan Tannehill said this week. "You have to realize where you are at and push forward. We are at a critical point in the season, halfway through, and it can go either way from here."
When the Dolphins have the ball: The Dolphins spoke of reviving its lagging rushing attack this week, and the Titans are the perfect opponent for Miami to face. The Titans have the third-worst rush defense in the NFL, allowing Chicago RB Matt Forte to gain 103 yards on just 12 carries last week.
With Reggie Bush expected to get more carries than he has lately (he has averaged 12 carries a game over the past three weeks), rookie QB Tannehill should be feeling less pressure. He has not thrown an interception since Week 4.
The Titans offense is keyed by LB Akeem Ayers, who leads the team with 74 tackles and 3 sacks. DEs Derrick Morgan and Kamerion Wimbley have combined for 6 sacks, and could test Miami LT Jake Long, who looked startlingly human against Indianapolis last week.
When the Titans have the ball: Titans QB Jake Locker is expected to return to the saturating lineup for the first time since Week 4, having recovered from a shoulder injury suffered September 30 against Houston. He had completed 62% of his passes for 781 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions before the injury.
The Titans' offense revolves around Johnson, who has come on strong as of late with 526 yards rushing in his last four games. But Miami's difficulty against the pass could lead Tennessee to test the Dolphins' banged up secondary.
Miami placed CB Richard Marshall on injured reserve this week, claiming Bryan McCann off waivers and signing free agent Brandon McDonald to beef up a secondary that has given up more passing yards than all but two teams in the NFL.
Who has the edge? Johnson will get his yards against the Dolphins, who have failed to keep him under 100 yards in each of their previous two meetings with the Titans. But Tennessee's defense will not be able to pick up critical stops in crunch time, which will allow Miami to pull out a squeaker.
The pick: Dolphins 20-Titans 17
Details: Tennessee Titans (3-6) at Miami Dolphins (4-4)
TV: CBS, 1:00, Spero Dedes, Steve Tasker
Line: Dolphins by 6
Previously: Miami won 29-17 at home in 2010