NFL Week 4: New Orleans Saints vs. Miami Dolphins Preview and Prediction

The league's second London tilt of the year pits the Saints, coming off an upset win on the road, against the Dolphins, who put in a clunker last week.

The Saints got off the turf following two straight ugly losses to dump Carolina 34-13. The biggest news from this contest was the improved play of the New Orleans defense. After allowing more than 1,000 yards  through the first two weeks of the season, they rallied to shut down Cam Newton and the Panthers under 200 for the game. That allowed the offense to work at a more reasonable pace, as Drew Brees threw for three scores and the Saints running game tallied 149 yards. New Orleans is now 1-2.

After a nice win in their opener over the Chargers, most expected the Dolphins to take care of business against the rebuilding Jets. Instead, they took a complete face-plant, getting outplayed in every phase of the game en route to a 20-6 loss to fall to 1-1. Miami couldn’t get anything going offensively for much of the contest as they didn’t score until a meaningless touchdown on the game’s final play. Running back Jay Ajayi was stuffed for just 16 yards on 11 carries while the defense allowed Josh McCown to control the game with his passing.

What happened?

Almost everything that could go wrong dig go wrong in the Dolphins ugly loss to the Jets. Most teams dread the hurried week of travel and the early start that go along with the London game, but it might actually be a blessing for Miami coming off such a rotten performance. There is some concern about the health of Jay Ajayi after such a lackluster effort, but, if he’s OK, the Dolphins will likely welcome the odd week.

Are they for real?

The Saints went from one of the worst defensive performances in NFL history through two weeks of the season to a team that appeared stout in shutting down the Panthers. The question now becomes whether that performance was a byproduct of a better defense or if it was because of the Panthers broken passing game. In any case, the Saints defense should have restored confidence as it looks to shut down Ajayi, Jay Cutler and the Dolphins.

Hey, Willie

Drew Brees has been sharp as usual through three contests to date, but the Saints passing game hasn’t yet clicked at the level most expect it to on a regular basis. That could be due in part to defenses taking away top option Michael Thomas. Thomas had his best game of the week ago, however, and he should get much-needed assistance with the return of fellow receiver Willie Snead, who makes his first appearance of the season after sitting out the first three games.

Dolphins RB Jay Ajayi vs. Saints LB Manti Te’o

Ajayi will try to shake off the ugly performance he put up in the loss to the Jets and prove that he can be the bell cow back once again. Te’o is limited, but his strengths as an aggressive run defender will be put to the test in this one. The Dolphins don’t want to become one-dimensional on offense and put everything on Cutler’s plate, and Te’o can help make that happen by helping to contain Ajayi.

Fantasy football tip: Dolphins QB Jay Cutler

Cutler was lousy with the rest of the Dolphins last week. But the Dolphins are unlike the Panthers in that they have a full contingent of receivers to bedevil the Saints shallow secondary depth. Every once in a while you have to dip into the streaming pool at quarterback, and, if this is one of those weeks for you, you could do a lot worse than Cutler.

Betting tip: Saints (-3)

The Saints are three-point favorites, which would have been unthinkable after Week 2. Ride the hot team and give the points.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints 34-27 Miami Dolphins

Lost in the ugly offensive performance against the Jets was the fact that the Dolphins let Josh McCown control the game with short passes, and nobody is better at that than Brees.

  1. Who do you think will win? Vote below!

    1. New Orleans Saints
    2. Miami Dolphins
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