Florida Football Friday: Dolphins Look to Stay Hot in Tennessee

by Mike Ferguson
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Photo courtesy of Miami Dolphins

At 1-7, many had justifiably written off the Miami Dolphins. With two weeks left in the 2021 regular season, they are now two wins from the playoffs.

Miami will go for its eighth straight win on Sunday as it heads to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans. The Dolphins improved to 8-7 and won their seventh straight game on Monday night with an impressive 20-3 rout of the New Orleans Saints.

During Miami’s winning streak, the Dolphins have allowed less than 12 points per game and have held three opponents without touchdowns. Emmanuel Ogbah and Jaelen Phillips have led the pass rush while linebacker Jerome Baker has been lights out. In the secondary, cornerback Xavien Howard remains one of the NFL’s best.

On Sunday, Miami will see a familiar face. Tennessee quarterback Ryan Tannehill spent seven years in Miami and made 88 starts. Tannehill’s best seasons have come with the Titans, but he has taken a big step back this season.

Tennessee has continued to run the ball well even without running back Derrick Henry. A.J. Brown will be a tough cover for the Miami secondary.

On offense, the Dolphins have been given a spark by second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The southpaw leads the NFL in completion percentage and ranks ninth in QBR. Out wide, Jaylen Waddle, also an Alabama product, is five catches away from tying Anquan Boldin’s rookie record. He’s just 59 yards from 1,000.

The Titans are solid defensively. Harold Landry III, Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry have combined for 26.5 sacks this season. Safety Kevin Byard is the team’s top tackler and ranks fourth in the NFL with five interceptions this season.

Miami has won the last two and two of the last three meetings between the teams. The last was a 27-20 win in the 2018 season opener with Tannehill at the helm.

At 10-5, the Titans can clinch the AFC South with a win on Sunday or a loss by the Indianapolis Colts to the Las Vegas Raiders. Sunday’s contest begins at 1 p.m. ET and airs regionally on CBS.

Prediction: Tennessee 20, Miami 17

Other Games Across the State

NFL

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-13) at New England Patriots (9-6)
Sunday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

The New England Patriots will try to avoid a 3-game losing streak as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. With some help and a win, New England can clinch a playoff spot this week. Jacksonville’s two wins this season have come against AFC East teams with winning records.
Prediction: New England 31, Jacksonville 12

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4) at New York Jets (4-11)
Sunday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

With last week’s win over the Carolina Panthers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clinched their first NFC South title since 2007. Quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL in passing yards and touchdown passes. Brady spent 20 years with the New England Patriots, playing the New York Jets twice each season. The Jets haven’t defeated him since 2015.
Prediction: Tampa Bay 38, N.Y. Jets 17

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.

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