coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/24/2013 06:22 PM in NFL

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints: Preview and Pick

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints: Preview and Pick

The Monday night football game for week four in the NFL looks like it will be a good one. The surprising Miami Dolphins have yet to lose and they have two victories away from home and will have plenty of swagger when they head to the Big Easy. The New Orleans Saints go their head coach back and they have not missed a beat this season as they have started out with a perfect record under quarterback Drew Brees.

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Saints as (-5) point favorites in this prime time affair. The public realizes that the Saints are a difficult team to beat in the dome and 70 percent of the early betting money is coming in on the home team. Because of this push of public betting the line has moved up and can now be found at (-6) at several of the top rated online sportsbooks.

The Saints are known for this high powered offense, but the defense I splaying well too. The Saints' defense has held all three opponents this season to 17 points or less. Last season, New Orleans allowed 17 points or less in three games all season. That defense will face another good defense in the Dolphins.

The defense is good for the Fins, but the offense deserves praise too. The Dolphins have scored at least 20 points in each game, the first time they've done that since 2002. Miami fell behind 10-0 and 20-10 and trailed much of the game, but nonetheless improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2002. This team does not quit and that makes them a dangerous opponent for the Saints this week.

The NFL betting trends in this game are very positive for both teams entering this battle. The Saints are 8-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last 11 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game, 18-5 ATS in their last 23 home games and 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games after allowing less than 250 total yards in their previous game. The Dolphins are 27-9 ATS in their last 36 road games when playing a team with a winning home record, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game and 5-1 ATS in the last six games overall. This game could be one of the best to watch of the week.

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/25/2013 03:10 PM

There are a lot of interesting matchups in Monday's battle of undefeated teams between the Miami Dolphins (3-0) and New Orleans Saints (3-0). One that stands out most is a pair of weaknesses for both clubs.

The Dolphins struggle running the football, and the Saints have had issues stopping the run. Something has to give when these two unbeatens clash on ESPN's "Monday Night Football." Miami is 28th in rushing at 70.3 yards per games. New Orleans is 20th in run defense, allowing 111.3 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry.

Miami has been unable to get its running game going through three games. It’s been a combination of poor blocking by the offensive line and the tailbacks being unable to elude tacklers. The Dolphins are averaging just 3.2 yards per rush, which has prompted them to throw more with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill.

The Dolphins finally showed early signs of life in the first half with a 49-yard run by starting tailback Lamar Miller last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. However, Miami rushed for just 41 yards on 14 carries the rest of the game.

“Lamar hits that long run, then we are in-and-out of it a little bit,” Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. “It never really felt like we got it unleashed.”

This would be a good time for the Dolphins to get back to running the football more efficiently. Controlling the clock on the road will be key for the Dolphins, who must keep New Orleans' high-powered offense off the field. The Saints have been terrific rushing the passer once they get a lead this year. But they have struggled stopping the run when teams come right at them.

It’s stunning to think that Tannehill is playing this well with virtually no help from Miami’s running game. Tannehill has a 94.3 passer rating and has been terrific in the second half. He was 9-of-12 passing on the final touchdown drive in Miami’s 27-23, come-from-behind win over the Falcons.

But Miami cannot continue to be one dimensional on offense and expect to beat quality teams. The Dolphins will need their running game this week if they want to remain undefeated.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/26/2013 01:41 PM

Perhaps the biggest question facing Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill this season is whether he's capable of taking over games, especially late in the fourth quarter. Making key drives in the second half and producing come-from-behind victories is not something we saw much of from Tannehill in his rookie year.

However, the light has come on quickly for Tannehill in Year 2. He has been locked in late in games, which was evident in Miami’s 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons. Tannehill was 9-of-12 passing on the final drive and threw the game-winning touchdown to rookie tight end Dion Sims with 38 seconds remaining. It was a major step forward in a big game for Miami’s young quarterback.

Tannehill is not surprised by his fourth-quarter success.

“I expect to be calm,” Tannehill said. “If you’re out there panicked, then you’re going to give panic to everyone else. You have to be in control of the situation, be confident in the guys you, and I think that was the biggest thing.”

The Dolphins are outscoring opponents 41-16 in the second half in the first three games. It’s one of the biggest reasons Miami (3-0) is undefeated heading into its huge game against the New Orleans Saints (3-0) on “Monday Night Football.” It’s been a combination of Tannehill leading the offense to touchdown drives and the defense making the proper adjustments at halftime to get key stops.

Thanks to Tannehill’s improvement, Miami also is getting more touchdowns than field goals. They are leading the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage and actually scored more points (74) than the high-powered Saints (70) through three games.

Tannehill has outdueled quarterbacks Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Matt Ryan of Falcons in back-to-back weeks. Next up is future Hall of Famer Drew Brees of the Saints on a national stage. Another win for Tannehill could really put the second-year quarterback on the map.

“It’s exciting,” Tannehill said. “I’ve never been a part of it obviously, so it’s something I’m looking forward to. It’s going to be a tough environment, especially a really deafening crowds in New Orleans. We’re going to have to be good, we’re going to have to be crisp with our communication, confident in what we do and just play our game.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/26/2013 01:46 PM

Miami Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake had a blistering start to the 2013 season, notching 2.5 sacks and 4 tackles in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. Week 2 facing the Colts he was more quietly disruptive and in Week 3 against the Falcons he had to leave the game with what is now reported as a mild MCL sprain. Wake hasn't been ruled out of Monday night's game against the New Orleans Saints but a South Florida Sun-Sentinel report said that Wake will likely miss 2-3 weeks. The Pro Bowl pass rusher's shoes are not easily filled but the Dolphins showed they do have some depth on the defensive line.

Third year man Derrick Shelby and 2013 No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan were the primary fill-ins in for Wake on Sunday. The Dolphins had problems containing the run overall but did a fairly good job in the pass rush. Jordan had his best game this season, finishing with four quarterback hurries, a quarterback hit and a plus grade for his run defense, according to Jordan was drafted to be a star and the more early reps he gets, the more dangerous and deep the edge of the Dolphins line becomes.

Wake is not the only defensive player to have sustained an injury. DT Paul Soliai, cornerback Dimitri Patterson, and linebacker Koa Misi are all in question for Monday so it's not as if DE is the lone hole that can be exploited.

It will be interesting to see how Drew Brees does against the Dolphins this weekend. He's been sacked 10 times already this year, tied for 25th in the league. He's already thrown for over 1,000 yards and is completing nearly 64 percent of his passes. If the Dolphins rush is weakened, he and his receivers will be more likely to have big days. We'll keep an eye on Wake's status and look forward to how opposing quarterbacks do this week and in future weeks if Wake is out and Jordan has to step up.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 11:26 AM

Those reports that Cameron Wake will miss several weeks with a knee injury appear premature.

Wake went through individual drills during Wednesday’s practice and is hopeful to play Monday night against the Saints.

But Wake, who wore sweatpants over top of a knee brace, did not participate in team drills that were open to the media. The Dolphins will release their first injury report of the week on Thursday.

Wake was not made available to reporters in the locker room after practice.

“All great competitors want to play,” Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. “We certainly would not put out a player that we had thought wasn’t ready to play the game and protect himself, so we’ll see how practice goes.”

Just seeing Wake on the sidelines is a bit shocking. He hasn’t missed a game since early in 2009, his rookie season.

The news wasn’t as encouraging for defensive tackle Paul Soliai and cornerback Dimitri Patterson, however. Neither practiced despite warming up with the team.

Soliai was wearing an unwieldy brace on his injured knee.


Ryan Tannehill has been sacked more times (14) than any quarterback in the NFL but again didn’t place all the blame on his offensive line. Tannehill told reporters Wednesday that he needs to do a better job of getting the ball out of his hands.

“The one early in the game, the first drive, I definitely held the ball too long,” Tannehill said. “It wasn’t playing out downfield the way we thought it was going to, and I didn’t get rid of the ball in a situation I should have, so that one was definitely on me.”

Tannehill also said some of the sacks have been because of good coverage on Dolphins receivers.


Through three weeks, Tannehill is the league’s most efficient quarterback in the red zone, with a rating of 144.4 while inside the 20.

“If you kick a lot of field goals, you’re giving up four points [at] a time, is the way we look at it,” Tannehill said. “We put a lot of emphasis on getting in the end zone.”

• When asked specifically what needs to improve on the defensive side of the ball, Philbin listed tackling and run defense.

• Philbin on Monday will return to the stadium where his coaching career began. He was a graduate assistant at Tulane in 1984 and 1985, with home games at the Superdome.

“I think we had an average of about 15,000 fans a game there,” Philbin said. “But it could be very loud.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/27/2013 11:27 AM

When it comes to the New Orleans Saints, the first thought that comes to mind usually is their high-powered offense led by quarterback Drew Brees.

So why is there so much chatter about New Orleans' defense from the Miami Dolphins' players and coaches?

The Dolphins are very mindful and wary of New Orleans’ revamped defense led by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Through three games, the Saints -- yes, the Saints -- are ranked fourth in total defense and fifth in points allowed. Opponents are averaging just 12.7 points per game against New Orleans, which is a huge reason why the Saints (3-0) are undefeated.

“They’re playing very well,” Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin said Wednesday. “They’re very multiple from a front standpoint, a personnel standpoint and a coverage standpoint. [Ryan] probably has a great reputation as a pressure coach, and that’s certainly true. But they are fundamentally sound.”

The Dolphins will have their hands full with the Saints on “Monday Night Football.” New Orleans could be a Super Bowl contender now that its defense is playing just as well as its offense. They are plus-32 in point differential, which is tied for third in the NFL.

The Saints’ defense is blitzing well, forcing turnovers and keeping teams out of the end zone. The blitz, in particular, could be an issue for the Dolphins. Miami has allowed 14 sacks on quarterback Ryan Tannehill in three games, and there’s plenty of blame to pass around. At various times, the issues have been with the offensive line, running backs picking up the blitz and the quarterback holding the ball too long.

“It’s an offensive stat -- it takes 11 guys to protect the quarterback,” Dolphins right tackle Tyson Clabo explained. “There’s no one reason for any number of sacks. When you put them all together, it’s always a multiple thing. We just have to get better. There’s no doubt.”

Miami’s sluggish running game will play a big role against the Saints. If New Orleans has shown a weakness on defense through three games, it’s stopping the run. The Saints are 20th in stopping the run and allowing 5.3 yards per carry.

On the other end, Miami is getting little production running the ball and is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry.

“It’s not to our standard in our locker room and with our coaches,” Dolphins fullback Tyler Clutts said. “So we have to improve that. But we’re winning games.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/28/2013 10:49 AM

But here is an preview on the Dolphins' injured players based on observations during the week:

DE Cameron Wake:
This is the big injury everyone wants to know about for Monday’s game. Wake suffered a knee sprain in the win against the Atlanta Falcons. He wasn’t expected to have much of a chance to play this week, but Wake is such a physical freak who stays in terrific shape that he’s practiced everyday in a limited role. Wake is trying to convince the coaching staff that he can contribute in some capacity on Monday. But that decision will be out of his hands. Look for Wake to be questionable and possibly a game-time decision.

DT Paul Soliai:
Miami’s starting defensive tackle missed the last game with a knee injury. But Soliai is progressing well and did practice on Thursday for the first time in a limited role. Soliai’s knee injury didn’t require surgery. He just needed rest, and Miami has three days before kickoff. Soliai is probably 50-50 at this point.

CB Dimitri Patterson:
The Dolphins’ starting cornerback has missed the past two games with a groin injury, and hasn’t practiced this week. Do not expect to see him in this game. Patterson probably needs a couple more weeks to get healthy, which means Nolan Carroll is expected to start his third straight game.

LB Koa Misi:
Miami’s starting linebacker injured his shoulder against Atlanta, but will be ready to play against the Saints. He’s practiced every day this week for Miami, and will play a big role in guarding New Orleans Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham.

LB Dannell Ellerbe:
The big free-agent pickup has been bothered by pectoral and rib injuries. To his credit, he’s been gutting it out and making a lot of tackles. Ellerbe isn’t playing at 100 percent, but he will be ready to play.

S Chris Clemons:
Miami’s starting safety has had hamstring and quad issues since the Indianapolis Colts game in Week 2. However, Clemons and the Dolphins’ training staff have done a good job of managing it and keeping Clemons ready to play.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/28/2013 10:51 AM

The New Orleans Saints' injury report got a little thinner Friday, but five players were still held out of team drills -- receiver Lance Moore (hand), safety Roman Harper (knee), tailback Mark Ingram (toe), defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley (calf) and defensive end Tom Johnson (hamstring).

Defensive lineman Tyrunn Walker (knee) and guard Tim Lelito (calf) returned to practice on a limited basis.

The Saints didn’t offer specific details on any of those injuries. But with each passing day that those players miss practice, their chances of playing Monday night against the Miami Dolphins decrease.

Harper, Ingram, Bunkley and Johnson all missed last Sunday’s game, as well. But the Saints demonstrated that they were deep enough at each of those position groups to absorb those losses in a 31-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

That should also be the case if Moore can’t play. Although Moore has been a huge part of the Saints’ offense for eight years, the Saints have great depth in the passing game.

They will obviously continue to feature veterans like receiver Marques Colston, tight end Jimmy Graham and tailback Darren Sproles. They can also lean more heavily on backup receivers Kenny Stills, Robert Meachem and Nick Toon and backup tight end Benjamin Watson.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/29/2013 08:07 AM

Pick: Saints -6

The Dolphins are good, really good but they have too many injuries up front on defense. They also have trouble protecting teh QB. The Saints at home are too tough to beat.