5 Reasons Why the Miami Dolphins Will Beat New Orleans in Week 4
Despite my allegiances, I will predict that the Dolphins lose if I think they will.
So this week, will I be happy to be wrong for a second consecutive week, or will I pick the Dolphins to prevail in a game that looks like a very bad matchup from the outside looking in?
We will find out now as we dive into the five reasons why the Miami Dolphins will beat New Orleans in Week 4.
1. New Orleans Is a One-Dimensional Offensive Team
Take a look at Drew Brees' stats for this season, and you're not surprised by anything.
Brees is tied for fourth in touchdowns with nine other quarterbacks (he has six), which will obviously even itself out as the season progresses.
The only shocking stat thus far this season is that Brees doesn't have the highest quarterback rating among the two quarterbacks in this game, as Ryan Tannehill is ninth with a 94.3 passer rating, while Brees comes in at 15th with a 91.4 passer rating.
This Saints passing offense is prolific, just as it has been ever since Sean Payton arrived with Drew Brees in New Orleans.
Now to quote Vine sensation King Bach: "yea, but that running game though..."
New Orleans is 24th in the NFL with 257 yards on the season. Sure, you could make the argument that the Dolphins are worse (yards-wise they are at 211), but while the Dolphins running game has potential for growth, the Saints running game isn't as big of a factor in their offense.
This hasn't ever really been the case for New Orleans. They simply don't run the ball very often. Because of this, I wouldn't have a problem with Paul Soliai taking a rest for this week to get ready for the Ravens (who do have a running game) the next week.
What does this have to do with the Dolphins? Well, part of what gave Miami a chance against Atlanta was their fourth quarter under-utilization of a running game that was tearing the Dolphins' defense to shreds.
In the fourth quarter the Falcons ran the ball six times out of the 20 plays ran (not counting a Jason Snelling 63-yard run that was called back by a holding penalty on Tony Gonzalez).
Six times out of 20: odds are had the Falcons ran it 10 times out of 20, more time would've come off the clock, giving Ryan Tannehill less time to attempt his come back.
What does this have to do with the Saints? Nothing, but at the same time everything. The Saints boast the same pass-first philosophy, which will net them plenty of yards against the Dolphins on Monday night.
But if they don't run the ball effectively against Miami, it will be for naught, because as we have seen with the Dolphins in the first three weeks of the season...
2. Miami's Defense Is Stingiest in the Fourth Quarter
Yes, the video has nothing to do with the Dolphins per se, but it is a representation of how stingy their fourth quarter defense has been, allowing only three points in three fourth quarters.
That's a nice statistic to have on your side in a game that should very well come down to the fourth quarter between two very good teams.
Can it continue against New Orleans? I don't see why not. The Saints, for their prolific offense yardage wise, is only scoring 23.3 points per game in their first three games, which is 15th in the NFL.
Miami on the other hand, has scored 24.7 points per game, which is 11th. Thus far they have had a common opponent in Atlanta (The Saints scored 23 on them, while Miami scored 27), but as for the other two teams, I feel confident in saying that the Dolphins have had the tougher draw outside of the Falcons.
This game should be one that the Dolphins can keep close, and based off of their first three games, there is no reason to not trust the defense in the fourth quarter, for they have already shown that they can get the stops.
We'll discuss the Dolphins' fourth-quarter offense later on.
3. The Saints Defense Is Good, but It's Nothing That Miami Hasn't Seen Before
The Saints defense is the main reason why New Orleans has gotten off to the hot start that they have.
Thus far this season they have sacked the quarterback eight times, are allowing an average of 184 yards per game, and have recorded four interceptions on the season.
This defense went from being the worst in NFL history last year to starting off the season ranked fourth in total defense after three games, and fifth in points allowed.
The talent, uniforms and Ryan brother are different, but the defense itself is the same defense that the Dolphins have had to face twice a year against the New York Jets since Rex Ryan was hired in 2009.
Miami's record against the Jets in that span: 5-3.
Of course, that defense was plagued by a Mark Sanchez-led offense, leading to low scoring games that the Dolphins won by letting the Jets be the last team to make a mistake, which they can't really afford to do against the Saints (that last team to make a mistake might just be the Dolphins early in the first quarter in this instance), but that doesn't mean that this defense is just a competent offense away from being dominant.
This defense is dominant and likely will finish as one of the better defenses in the NFL this season. But Miami has seen it before, so they better know how to game-plan for it.
Odds are, they will do just that, which only strengthens the possibility of a Miami victory.
Halftime/NFL Picks of the Week
I'm not giving an explanation with any of my picks except two (one explanation is obviously the Dolphins game). Here they are, accompanied by Outkast.
HOME TEAMS IN CAPS.
San Francisco (-3.5) over ST. LOUIS
Nailed it! (That's my explanation, really more to prove to you guys I'm not B.S.-ing you guys on that pick.)
Seattle (-2.5) over HOUSTON
Chicago (+3) over DETROIT
Cincinnati (-2.5) over CLEVELAND
Indianapolis (-7.5) over JACKSONVILLE
KANSAS CITY (-4.5) over New York Giants
Arizona (-2.5) over TAMPA BAY
Baltimore (-3) over BUFFALO
TENNESSEE (-3.5) over New York Jets
Washington (-3.5) over OAKLAND
DENVER (-11) over Philadelphia
SAN DIEGO (+1) over Dallas
New England (+2) over ATLANTA
Miami (+6.5) over NEW ORLEANS
This article will explain why I'm picking what I'm picking.
Last week: 6-10 (5-10-1 ATS)
This week: 1-0 (1-0 ATS)
Season: 29-20 (20-23-4 ATS)
Why New Orleans Could Win
Here's a list of reasons why the Saints could win the game.
I think this one goes without saying.
The Saints are nearly unbeatable at home in night games
That's a record of 11-2 on Monday Night same Sean Payton and Drew Brees came to town.
That defense is still pretty good.
I'm a believer in the Saints defense, and just because the Dolphins have seen it before like I said earlier, doesn't necessarily mean that they know how to score on it (yet).
Jimmy Graham can (and likely will) torch the Dolphins.
Somehow the Hall of Fame tight end is the one that the Dolphins did a good job shutting down. Despite that, Jimmy Graham is out of this world at the position.
The injury bug.
No Paul Soliai, and while there is a chance that Cameron Wake plays, it's not guaranteed (nor is it guaranteed that he will be the same Cameron Wake). This one scares me more than any other factor, save for one.
Again, goes without saying once. You say it twice.
4. Miami's Running Game Is Prime for a Big Game
I feel like this is something I've predicted for the past three weeks.
This week, I'm right about this (at least I hope if the Dolphins want to win this game).
Lamar Miller will have a breakout week, and Miami's running game will do well.
This isn't due to the faith I have in Miami's run offense, but the confidence I have that they can run against New Orleans' defense.
The Saints have thus far allowed their opponents to run for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.
Can Lamar Miller run for 5.3 yards per carry? Yes he can.
Will he run for 5.3 yards per carry? I have faith that he will, and then some.
It's not just per carry where the Saints are smarting, but look at how much they've allowed per game: 111.3.
It's not like they've gone against top tier running offenses either. The best running game they've seen was Atlanta's, with a healthy Stephen Jackson.
However even in that game, the Falcons only ran the ball 14 times, but averaged 6.3 yards per carry.
Miami should (and likely will) run the ball more than 14 times against the Saints, and will get the production to match that.
This will keep the game close with Miami leading in time of possession, setting up my number five reason why the Dolphins will defeat the Saints.
5. You Can Trust the Dolphins to Close the Game
Earlier we talked about how Miami's defense has only allowed three points in the fourth quarter all season long.
Now let's look at the other side of the ball: Miami's offense has scored 17 points in three fourth quarters.
The average isn't too good (blame a scoreless fourth quarter against the Colts), but overall this inspires confidence.
Also inspiring confidence: Ryan Tannehill. His fourth-quarter drive against Atlanta was masterful enough that I feel like I can trust him to lead the team to a game-winning score when down in the fourth quarter.
That's likely where the Dolphins will find themselves, but in a one score game.
The reasons aren't just the reasons I listed, but other things like Tannehill's calm under pressure (he was 13-of-14 passing the ball when the Falcons blitzed him, per Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald citing Pro Football Focus), Miami's discipline (no penalties against the Colts and only two against Atlanta), and the fact that this is a team looking for respect.
If the first three games doesn't make you respect the Dolphins, this one will. I have them winning this game, but if they lose it, it will be by less than the 6.5-point spread the Saints are favored by.
Either way Miami will come out of New Orleans victorious, whether it's a real win or a moral one. I'm banking on the real victory in another game featuring a stout fourth-quarter defense and a great kill by Ryan Tannehill.
Miami 31, New Orleans 27
Statistics provided by Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.