NFL Picks: Motivated Dolphins Defense to Silence Titans Offense in Low-Scoring Game

Mark Lathrop

Friday, October 16, 2015 1:40 AM GMT

The Dolphins visit the Titans in Week 6 action with identical 1-3 records trying to salvage their season. Our handicapper analyzes the matchup and presents excellent value for your NFL picks.

The Miami Dolphins are coming off of their Week 5 bye with a new attitude and new head coach, now being led by former TE Dan Campbell after Joe Philbin was fired after the Week 4 loss to the New York Jets. Trying to salvage their poor start the Dolphins are 1-3 and face the Tennessee Titans, also 1-3 and who have also lost three games straight. Miami is in the cellar of the AFC East already; however, the Tennessee Titans are behind only the Andrew Luck-less 3-2 Indianapolis Colts in the pathetic AFC South.

The opening NFL odds in this game suggest a pretty even matchup, with the line opening at -3 but settling in at pick’em at 5Dimes. The O/U total opened up at 44.5, but has since gone down to 43.5 at the same book. Early consensus is very heavy on the Dolphins, with 79.28% of wagers placed on Miami through Thursday night. Everyone must like the new coach, I guess.

Oddly enough, with a 1-3 record the Titans have a +11 scoring differential through 4 games of the season. Only Philadelphia and Seattle also have a plus scoring differential with a losing record. Miami, on the other hand, has a -36 scoring differential with to go with their 1-3 record. Pathetic. 

You don’t have to search very hard to see why Miami didn’t wait until the end of the season to make a coaching change. Their offense has been awful. They are dead last in the league in 3rd down conversions at 26.9%. They are 31st in the league in scoring at 16.3 PPG. They are 31st in the league in rushing yards per game at 69.3. They are 31st in the league, and a few seconds from being last, in time-of-possession.

What happens when your offense goes three and out all of the time and can’t stay on the field? The defense gets tired. The Dolphins run defense especially, as teams have been able to pound the rock against them late in games. This has led them to be dead last in the league in rushing defense, giving up 160.5 rushing yards per game. Overall, the Dolphins give up 399.5 yards per game in offense, which is only 10 yards away from being the worst in the NFL.

Tennessee’s positive takeaway over their first four games is their excellent defense against the pass. The Titans find themselves leading the NFL by far in passing yards allowed per game at 166.5. This also puts them 3rd in overall defense in yards allowed per game with 283.5.

Overall their 1st round QB, Marcus Mariota, has had a solid start to his career, but has struggled since Week 1. His QBR as the season has gone along: 158.3, 96.3, 84.2, 68.1. The NFL adjusts quickly to game tape.

At the end of the day, I think this game will boil down to any new motivation that Dan Campbell can get out of the Dolphins. Their defense wasn’t this bad last year and they still have plenty of talent on the roster, including prized free agent signing Ndamukong Suh, who hasn’t done much yet in the Miami scheme. All signs point to the Dolphins rallying around their new coach well. The local press has reported spirited practices over the bye week and new coordinators are eager to prove themselves. We should see maximum effort from the Dolphins on Sunday and I think this will have the most effect on their defensive play. If you are following my train of thought here, you’ll follow that the value in this game is on the Under. I’m backing a prepared Miami team coming off of the bye week to keep Tennessee under wraps, and taking the Under of 43.5 at Bovada as one of my Week 6 NFL picks.

NFL Picks: 'Under' 43.5 at Bovada

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