Dolphins’ task none too easy in New Orleans

Posted: September 30, 2013 in NFL
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Line1_PROOFBy W.G. Ramirez

Five teams remain undefeated heading into the final game of Week 4. After tonight there will only be four, as the Miami Dolphins (3-0) travel to the Big Easy to take on the New Orleans Saints (3-0).

The Saints seem to be revitalized with Sean Payton back under the headphones, running the show. His troops opened the season with a 23-17 win over NFC South-rival Atlanta, then won an ugly divisional-showdown against Tampa Bay, 16-14.

But after looking out of sync in Weeks 1 and 2, New Orleans’ prolific offense looked like its old self, as it racked up 423 yards in a 31-7 rout of Arizona, and quarterback Drew Brees passed for three touchdowns and ran for another. Tonight the Saints take a crack at Miami’s 22nd ranked defense that has increasingly allowed more points over the first three weeks.

In wins at the Browns, at the Colts and versus the Falcons, the Dolphins allowed 10, 20 and 23 points. And while they’re a well-coached team, talented on both sides of the ball and are seemingly playing with plenty of motivation, there are many who don’t think they’re legitimate contenders. Even with wins over prolific quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan the last two weeks.

The Saints will presumably get their points; the question is whether or not the Dolphins can do their thing, which leads us to the big matchup for tonight…

KEY SHOWDOWN: Miami QB Ryan Tannehill vs. New Orleans defense

Tannehill might have wins over Luck and Ryan, but he also leads the NFL in sacks with 14 and fumbles with five. Heading into this game, he’s on pace to challenge for the league records in both categories. That’s not necessarily a good thing against a largely improved Saints defense from last season.

New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has the Saints in a 180-degree turn from last season, when New Orleans allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards (440.1 per game). This year the Saints rank fourth in the NFL, allowing 295.7 yards per game. Even further, the Saints have allowed offensive units a mere four touchdowns over the first three games.

The Saints’ defense is specializing against the pass, which could spell trouble for Tannehill, as they rank fourth in the league with air control.  I suspect we’re going to see Tannehill and wideout Mike Wallace hooking up – are trying to – as Wallace is a New Orleans-native. He has 12 catches for 152 yards and one touchdown this season.

If Tannehill can perform, this could be an entertaining shootout. If the Saints get to him, it could be an easy win in the Big Easy.

BY THE NUMBERS: Miami at New Orleans (-7, 48.5)

The Dolphins are seeking their first 4-0 start since 1995 in what will be the franchise’s NFL-high 79th appearance on Monday night.

If it comes down to the end, don’t be surprised to see the Fins put their trust in rookie placekicker Caleb Sturgis, who is 6 for 6 on field goals, including 3 of 3 from between 40-49 yards, and 2 of 2 from 50 yards or longer.

Tannehill has completed 66.4 percent of his passes for 827 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, resulting in his 94.3 QB rating – higher than Brees’ 91.4 rating.

The Dolphins come in on ATS win streaks of 4-0 in September, 12-4 against winning teams, 22-10 with a suitcase in hand and 5-1 overall.

Brees has completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,021 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions.

And when the all-Pro gunslinger is playing in the final game of the week, it’s an upgrade of sorts. Brees has won his last eight starts on Monday nights, completing 71.1 percent of his passes for 2,467 yards with 24 touchdowns versus five interceptions for a 120.6 rating in those games.

Brees has 300 yards passing in eight straight games, the second-longest streak all-time.

Look for Brees to target tight end Jimmy Graham, who has 19 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns in his past two games, and wideout Marques Colston, who has nine touchdowns in his past eight games in Superdome.

The Saints are in on ATS win streaks of 4-0 on Mondays, 18-5 in the Big Easy, 18-6 on the fake stuff, and 13-5 after a straight-up win, 10-4 against winning teams and 14-6 after cashing at the window.

ON DECK: The Dolphins return home, while the Saints march on the road in Week 5.

Miami is currently -3 at home against the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, while New Orleans heads north to take on the Bears in Chicago, where the Saints are -2.5

  1. wilram says:

    Very nice article.

    I will be rooting for Miami because I am in a “Last Man Standing” pool and there is an overwhelming number of people on the Saints.

    The pool started with over 800 entries and we are down to about 400. It is the kind of pool where you choose one team each week (no point spread). Once you pick a team, you cannot use that team again. So far I have picked, Denver, Detroit, Balt and KC (yesterday). Now I will have to pick a winner for next week.

    • notesquotesanecdotes says:

      Good job. Though Denver and Kansas City are now dusted. Detroit is a good team to have spent. You still have Seattle, which is real deal. And the Patriots.

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