Miami Dolphins vs. New Orleans Saints MNF Predictions
Miami Dolphins (7-7 SU, 7-6-1 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (7-7 SU, 7-7 ATS)
Date/Time: Monday, December 27, 7:15 PM EST
Where: Mercedes Benz Superdome, New Orleans
Point Spread: MIA +3 / NO -3 at MyBookie
Over/Under Total: 39
Monday Night Football travels to New Orleans as the hometown Saints play host to the Miami Dolphins. Betanysports.EU is making the Saints 3 point favorites and setting the game total at 39. These are two teams going in opposite directions, so I’ll back the Dolphins to continue to play well and cover the field goal spread against New Orleans at the Superdome. Here is the handicap.
Miami Is Finding Ways to Win
Two months ago, the Dolphins sat at 1-7, and it looked like a completely lost season. Heading into week 16, Brian Flores has led his squad to 6 wins in a row and into the log jam of teams within one game of wild card playoff berth. Tua Tagovailoa has started the last five games for the Fins, and his play has been a big part of the team’s resurgence. Tua has completed over 73% of his passes in three of those games and totaled seven touchdowns against three interceptions over that stretch. Much of Tua’s improvement can be credited to fellow Alabama alumni Jaylen Waddle, who has caught over 80% of his targets during Miami’s winning streak. Waddle missed Week 15, which impacted Tagovailoa’s efficiency, but should be back on the field after last week’s Covid absence. Tua will look to Waddle early and often on Monday but also can utilize tight end Mike Gesecki and DaVonte Parker. Both are big targets that Tua will use in traffic and the red zone. Miami will also try to get their running game going against the Saints. Duke Johnson came back from the dead last week to lead the Dolphins in rushing. He reeled off 107 rushing yards, 20 receiving yards and reached the endzone twice. Miami is 31st in rushing yards per carry at 3.4, but last week they ran the ball 42 times for 186 yards. That was against the Jets, so don’t expect similar results in New Orleans, and don’t ever expect Duke Johnson to top 100 yards in a game again. With that said, Miami will try to run the ball to keep Tua in favorable 3rd down distances. Look for Tua to take care of the ball and work the ball to his playmakers. The game total of 39 implies 20 will win this game, and it’s easy to see Miami getting there.
The real driver to the Fins recent success is their defense. They average giving up 23 points per game on the season, but over their six-game winning streak, they have only allowed 13 points per game. Miami matches up very well with the Saint offense that wants to run the ball as much as possible. Miami’s secondary can shut down New Orleans receivers, allowing the linebackers to focus on Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill. Miami is 8th in the league allowing just over 100 rushing yards per game, but have cut that number to 85 over their six-game winning streak. The defense has also taken the ball away 12 times during the winning streak and will have a good chance for some picks when Hill decides to throw. Miami is excellent in the red zone, ranking 7th in the league at keeping opponents out of the endzone. I think Miami’s D has another strong performance on Monday night. They are physical enough to stand up to the Saints running game and should have no trouble with Hill throwing the ball.
This Isn’t New Orleans Year
The Saints have been on the exact opposite trajectory of Miami, losing 5 in a row before a win against the Jets and last week’s domination of division rival Tampa Bay. Sean Payton has finally had to play Hill at quarterback, and the results are as expected. Hill is a great gadget player and can make some big plays, but he should not be a starting NFL quarterback. He has started the team’s last three games and completed less than half of his passes in both games that were not against the Jets. Hill is really working with practice squad level receivers, and they will have almost no chance to contribute against Miami on Monday. New Orleans only hope for their offense is Alvin Kamara. Kamara was out for four weeks before returning in week 14 to light up the Jets. It was tougher sledding for Kamara last week against the Bucs, totaling only 31 yards from scrimmage. Miami will have all hands on deck to not let Kamara get going and should have success. The Saints managed only three field goals and 212 offensive yards on Sunday night, and I look for a similar showing this Monday.
The Saints defense had been getting pushed around in November and December, but you wouldn’t know it if you watched the Sunday Night. They played inspired football, taking the ball away twice while shutting out the Bucs. New Orleans has played their best in the past two years when lining up across from Tom Brady, but for the year, they allow 21 points per game, and in the six games prior to the Jets games, they gave up over 29 per game. They are middle of the pack against the pass but boast one of the strongest rush defenses going. New Orleans will be able to shut down Miami’s run game, but the Fins should be able to move the ball with their quick passing game. Points will be at a premium, but don’t look for back to back shutouts from the Saints D.
There Is Line Value with Miami
The world watched the Saints defense manhandle the defending champs on national TV, and the Saints are all of a sudden back. Did the world miss watching the Saints offense in that same game? New Orleans is one of the most limited offenses in the league since Jameis Winston went on IR. Had the Bucs won last week 10-9 or 7-6, this line would be Saints -1, but now we are getting a field goal for the team that has won 6 in a row against the team that has lost 5 out of 7. Both teams are on the edge of the playoffs, and the Superdome will be a tough environment for Tua, but this will be a slugfest toss-up that one team will probably win by a field goal or less. If we can 3 points with a team that has a 50% chance to win outright, that’s the side we want to be on.
Take the 3 Points with the Dolphins
Play the Dolphins to keep this game within a field goal and maybe sneak out a win in the Big Easy.
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