MNF - Dolphins at Saints
September 30, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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Week 4 of the NFL season wraps up with a pair of undefeated teams hooking up at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The surprising Dolphins have started 3-0 for the first time since 2002, while the Saints look for their first 4-0 start since 2009, when New Orleans won the franchise's only Super Bowl title.
Miami will be playing its third road game in four weeks after knocking off Cleveland and Indianapolis as short underdogs. Last week, the Dolphins rallied from a 20-10 deficit against the Falcons in a dramatic 27-23 victory as three-point home favorites. Ryan Tannehill threw for 236 yards, including hitting rookie tight end Dion Sims for a one-yard strike with 38 seconds remaining to cap off the comeback. Miami's offense racked up just 285 yards of offense, but the Dolphins cashed the 'over' for the second straight week.
The high-flying Saints have actually finished 'under' the total in all three of their victories this season, including 31-7 rout of the Cardinals last Sunday. New Orleans fell behind, 7-0, but scored the final 31 points of the game to easily cash as 7 ½-point favorites. Drew Brees diced up the Arizona defense for three touchdown passes, while the former MVP also scored a touchdown on the ground. The biggest storyline surrounding the Saints is their much-improved defense, which has now allowed 17 points or less in all three games this season, after finishing dead-last in the league in 2012 in total defense.
Since 2006, the Dolphins have lost six of seven games under the Monday night lights, while last appearing on Monday night in 2011 with a pair of blowout losses to the Patriots and Jets. The last time the Dolphins won a Monday night game away from Miami was back in 2003 against the Chargers, which was actually a neutral-site game played in Phoenix due to a wildfire in Southern California that forced the contest to be moved. Coincidentally, Brees was under center that night for the Chargers and threw three interceptions in the loss.
However, Brees turned around his luck in his most recent meeting with the Dolphins, a 46-34 victory in South Florida back in 2009 to improve New Orleans to 6-0 en route to its Super Bowl title. The Dolphins jumped out to a shocking 24-3 lead in the second quarter before the Saints outscored Miami, 43-10 to close out the game. Brees rushed for two touchdowns and threw another to Marques Colston, while the New Orleans defense took back two interceptions for scores. In spite of Brees throwing three interceptions, New Orleans cashed as six-point road favorites and the 'over' of 47 ½ easily hit.
Miami is actually making its first trip to the Superdome since 1995, as the Dolphins last beat the Saints on the road in 2005 in Baton Rouge. Of course that season was the one that was marred by Hurricane Katrina and forced the Saints to play their home games in Baton Rouge and San Antonio, as New Orleans lost all four contests played at LSU's Tiger Stadium that year.
After last season's suspension-filled campaign for the Saints when head coach Sean Payton was among those banned, it's tough to include the 2012 stats from a historical perspective. However, dating back to 2011, the Saints have dominated at the Superdome from an ATS standpoint by covering 14 of their last 17 games as a home favorite, as the three losses came last season to the Redskins, Chiefs, and Buccaneers.
Since Brees arrived in New Orleans, the Saints have won 10 of his 11 games on Monday night football, including a 7-1 mark at home. The only outright loss came to the Vikings in 2008 in a 30-27 defeat as three-point home favorites, while covering five of the previous six under the Monday night lights.
The Saints are listed as seven-point favorites at most spots, with the number potentially sneaking up to 7 ½ by game-time with the public jumping on New Orleans. The total is set at 48 ½, as things get going from the Big Easy at 8:30 PM EST and the contest can be seen on ESPN.
Week 5 Look-Ahead:
-- Only one team is listed as a double-digit favorite next Sunday, as the Rams opened up as 12 ½-point home 'chalk' over the hapless Jaguars. The last time St. Louis was a 10-point favorite or higher came back in 2004, which was also the last season the Rams qualified for the playoffs.
-- Three 4-0 teams are listed as road favorites next week (Kansas City, Seattle, and Denver), while the 0-4 Giants are an early 2 ½-point favorite against the Eagles. The Broncos' offense once again put up plenty of points against Philadelphia in Week 4, as the Denver/Dallas total is set at 55.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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