It may only be week 4, but a meeting between two undefeated teams deserves plenty of attention, especially when it happens on Monday Night Football. Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s matchup between the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Neither team’s season will crumble with a lost, but both have plenty to gain with a win. Miami could really make a statement with a win at New Orleans, especially after beating Atlanta last week. A 4-0 start for the Dolphins would leave no doubt that they’re for real this season, and would put a scare in the New England Patriots that their dominance of the AFC East could be in jeopardy. For the Saints, a win would allow them to retain a sizeable lead in the NFC South, which could help them runaway with the division early on in the season.
MIAMI OFFENSE VS. NEW ORLEANS DEFENSE
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Ryan Tannehill is off to a great start, but he’ll face his toughest test of the season, as Rob Ryan has completely turned around the Saint’s defense this season, turning them into a more than respectable unit. Last week, the Saints allowed just 161 yards passing against Carson Palmer and the great trio of wide receivers of the Arizona Cardinals, which was quite impressive. However, the Dolphins have a quartet of quality receiving options with Charles Clay providing a nice option at tight end alongside the wide receiver trio of Brian Hartline, Mike Wallace, and Brandon Gibson. Wallace had just two catches last week, but if can break out the way he did in week 2 against the Colts, the Dolphins will pose a challenge for the Saint’s defense. The x-factor to this matchup will be Miami’s running game, which has been slow to get going this season. Lamar Miller averaged over seven yards a carry last week, but only had eight carries. Miami will need to make more of an effort to get Miller involved and keep their offense balanced or else Ryan is likely to come after Tannehill with a lot of blitzes, which could make things difficult for a young quarterback, even one that’s played so well this season.
NEW ORLEANS OFFENSE VS. MIAMI DEFENSE
As expected, the Saints have been great at throwing the ball up and down the field, with tight end Jimmy Graham and wide receiver Marques Colston doing most of the damage. So far this season, Graham has continued to create mismatches and been a nightmare for opposing teams to defend, and that should be the case again this week. Miami’s secondary has struggled to slow down quality quarterbacks each of the past two weeks, and they’ll need their pass rush to step up in order to help out their secondary and slow down the Saint’s passing attack. Like Miami, New Orleans hasn’t gotten their running game going this season, but running back Darren Sproles does provide another option in the passing game, which will make things even more difficult for the Dolphin’s defense, who will likely have their hands full all game and will need to be at their best to have a chance to win on the road.
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As impressive as Tannehill has been this season, being able to out duel Drew Brees in the Super Dome on a Monday night might be asking too much. The Miami defense hasn’t provided a ton of support this season, and that’s unlikely to change against the Saint’s offense. Tannehill will have his moments, but Ryan’s defense will eventually get to him, while Miami will have no way of slowing down Brees, Graham, and Colston. Miami has a good showing, but can’t get the win. New Orleans 31, Miami 20.