Kathy Laughlin Sports Editor Prediction: Dolphins 20, Titans 16
Comment: The Dolphins have a chip on their shoulders, and they open at home. That might be enough. Miami wants to prove its high-profile departures haven’t hurt, and Ryan Tannehill wants to show that he is fully recovered from knee surgery. The Titans, a playoff team last year, will be tough and physical, and their rushing defense presents a major hurdle. How RBs Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake hold up will be key.
Dave Hyde Sports Columnist Prediction: Dolphins 21, Titans 17
Comment: You want to enter a season with optimism, and this is a game both teams’ fans enter thinking they should win. Tennessee’s physicality and running game are a concern. But their overall talent isn’t a cut above, they’re learning new coach Mike Vrabel’s ways and the steamy September game is a plus for the Dolphins. Omar Kelly Dolphins Writer/Columnist Prediction: Titans 21, Dolphins 17 Comment: Styles matter, and when they contrast it usually leads to troublesome results. The Titans play a physical style that has given Miami problems the past few years. Adam Gase wants to change that, but it won’t happen overnight, or in the season opener.
Keven Lerner Assistant Sports Editor Prediction: Titans 20, Dolphins 17
Comment: The Dolphins are an underdog at home against the Titans, who are coming off the franchise’s first playoff win in 14 years. Mike Vrabel, who has three Super Bowl rings as a linebacker with New England, makes his head-coaching debut for the Titans, who have won five straight road openers —the NFL’s longest such streak. The Dolphins will have a tough time stopping the run as the Titans will grind it out on the ground. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill returns after missing the past 20 games because of knee injuries. Steve Svekis Senior Content Editor Prediction: Titans 26, Dolphins 24
Comment: Marcus Mariota’s lone game at Hard Rock Stadium (in 2016) was one of the best of his career. His mobility opens up so many run-pass options and is complemented by massive bludgeoning back Derrick Henry (6 feet 3, 247 pounds). The Dolphins duo of linebackers who are making their first NFL starts need to come up huge for the Dolphins to open with a win.