This Monday night the Miami Dolphins will face the New Orleans Saints in a battle of unbeaten teams. Miami will be looking to defeat their second NFC South opponent of the season, not to mention the team atop the NFC South standings.
Both teams will be looking to catapult themselves into, not only the play-off picture (yes, I know it’s a little early to be talking play-offs), the Super Bowl contention picture.
Now, I understand that there is a long way to go before we can really be talking play-offs or even Super Bowl contention for that matter, but a win for Miami would prove a lot for this young and electric Miami squad.
Let’s take a look at a few keys to victory:
- Continue to ride Tannehill’s arm: QB Ryan Tannehill has been one of the most surprising players to watch in this very young season. Tannehill has lead his team to a perfect 3-0 start over two very tough teams in Indianapolis and Atlanta, while also beating a Cleveland Browns team to open the season on the road. Not to mention the former Texas A&M Aggie has a 4 to 2 touchdown to interception ratio all while throwing behind one of the NFL’s shakiest offensive lines allowing a league worst 14 sacks in 3 games. Tannehill has the hot hand for Miami right now, therefore offensive coordinator Mike Sherman must continue to ride his second-year quarterback’s arm to the top.
- Establish the run game: The Saints are fourth overall in total defense this season. They’re good against the run and they’re good against the pass. Miami must establish a run game early on to bring an eighth defender into the box to help QB Ryan Tannehill find his weapons. RB Lamar Miller had a decent first half against Atlanta last week, we saw his burst and explosiveness on a nice scamper, but the team did not give him much of an opportunity to establish a run game in the second half. Miami has only run the ball 65 times this season while throwing the ball 107 times. Utilizing Miller and RB Daniel Thomas can only help this team.
- Give DE Dion Jordan more playing time: With DE Cameron Wake questionable this week – there are conflicting reports that he will sit out or he will play primarily in pass rushing situations – Miami must unleash their prized third-overall selection, Dion Jordan. Jordan played well last week against Atlanta and has slowly, but steadily improved throughout the first three weeks of the season. Jordan will have his hands full against RT Zach Strief, who has done a respectable job protecting QB Drew Brees this season. If Jordan can finally put together his game and have a break-out performance by getting to Brees and forcing some mistakes, Miami could have a realistic shot in this game.
- Play a game of keep-away: Similar to that of Atlanta, New Orleans has quite an offense. No they may not consist of stars, but the team has consistent players who are always ready and eager to contribute. Miami needs to play a game of keep away. What I mean here is that the team must establish a running game and try to milk every single drive to keep QB Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense off the field. Remember, if Brees and his offense are not on the field, they cannot score any points. That is unless we do not….
- Play a clean game: Miami currently has a +2 turnover ratio. This must remain consistent. If Miami wants absolutely ANY chance in this game then the team MUST take care of the football. QB Ryan Tannehill has done a decent job with his decision making so far this season – the second-year QB has only thrown 2 interceptions. That being said, Tannehill has also fumbled the ball 5 times when sacked. Tannehill must hold onto the ball in all circumstances. DC Rob Ryan is going to come after this shaky Miami offensive line which has allowed 14 sacks so far this season. Tannehill must be able to hang onto the football or get rid of it quickly.
This game could do wonders for this team and this fan base’s morale. A win over a team like New Orleans would be HUGE. But could it actually happen?
Prediction: New Orleans 33 Miami 30
I really would like to pick Miami here, but I cannot. New Orleans has a great offensive scheme and their defense is much improved. I think it will give Miami’s offense trouble early, especially if Miami cannot establish a running game. Miami’s offense will surge during the second half to give Miami fans a prayer of hope, but the team will ultimately come up short this week. 3-1 and on to Baltimore.