It’s not too often that you see a pair of undefeated teams do battle on Monday Night Football a month into the season, but that is the case this week as the surprising 3-0 Miami Dolphins travel to New Orleans (3-0) to take on the Saints in the Superdome.
The home crowd looks to be the difference maker in this matchup. The Saints are 15-4 against the spread in their last 19 games at home, and already covered in both their home games this year: Week 1 vs. Atlanta and Week 3 vs. Arizona. From Miami’s perspective, the Dolphins are just 2-4 against the spread in their last six road games.
The Saints are a team that is built to pass first, led by All-Pro Quarterback Drew Brees. The captain has already passed for 1021 yards, good enough for fourth in the league, and six touchdowns total. Brees will likely be the key as the Dolphins are in the bottom half of the league against the pass, sitting at 21st allowing 263.3 yards a game.
Saints improved defense big difference this year
Drew Brees has been his usual brilliant self, but there’s no secret that the key to the team’s turn around this year is the defense. Last year, the Saints were abysmal on defense, raking dead last against the rush and second to last against the pass. However, Rob Ryan has helped turn things around, and the Saints are now 4th against the pass. They are still struggling against the rush, allowing over 111 yards a game, but the good news for Saints fans is that the Fins are 28th in the league running the ball.
There are question marks at the running back position for the Saints coming into this game. Mark Ingram, who has been ineffective as the top back on the depth chart, is hobbled by a bad toe and may not play Sunday. The Saints will be leaning on Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles to carry the load, though Sproles will be used more on the outside and as a receiving back, rather than a pound between the tackles back.
Dolphins need to run the ball to beat the Saints
The Dolphins have been arguably the biggest surprise in the NFL so far, jumping out to a surprising 3-0 start. The offense has been the model of consistency, scoring 23, 24, and 27 in their first three games respectfully. We already mentioned that Miami is struggling to run the ball, and that could come back to bite them against New Orleans. The Saints defense is known to constantly blitz and pressure the quarterback, an attack plan that is made more lethal when their opposition can’t run the ball.
There isn’t much in the way of history with these two squads. They have only played twice in the last fifteen years, with the road team taking the win each time. The Dolphins have won their first two road games this season, matching their 2-6 record on the road last year.
Home field advantage is a huge benefit in the NFL, and that benefit is amplified when it is a primetime night game. This Saints roster is used to playing under the bright lights, and they still have a handful of players who were on the championship squad of three years ago. While the Dolphins are a solid up and coming team, they aren’t used to winning big games just yet. When you consider all of these factors, I think the Saints will stay undefeated, defeating the Dolphins 27-17, covering the -5 spread in the process. The Dolphins also tend to struggle to score on the road, as they have gone under on the points spread in six of their last eight road games. The 48 point spread is pretty much perfect, as you would expect from Vegas, but I’m leaning slightly towards the under, as I like the Saints to win at home 27-17.