COMMENTARY | The New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins game on Monday Night Football will likely resemble an NFL playoff gridiron rumble.
For starters, Drew Brees' stats -- namely his player rating (91.4) -- trail Ryan Tannehill's (94.3), according to NFL.com. While the margin of difference is ever so slight, stat gods use the rating to show which quarterback is getting it done - or not.
Will Brees' New Orleans Saints debunk the player rating myth?
When the smoke clears, will the Saints be upset by the Dolphins and the game is decided by the "better" quarterback on paper?
It's a fair question, in my opinion. If numbers had no relevance, pundits and prognosticators wouldn't use a player's rating to bolster their claims as they often do.
It's only fitting that the two quarterbacks like Brees and Tannehill are put to the test Monday night to see which squad remains undefeated, while the other's winning-streak ends. Additionally, if player stats predict future performance -- to some degree -- in actual or simulated contests, the Dolphins get the nod.
Perhaps, it's a long shot at best to think New Orleans and Miami will square off in Super Bowl 2014, but Drew Brees and Ryan Tannehill's teams are undefeated so far. With over 70 percent of teams starting 3-0 earning playing playoff spots, Monday night's game will be a good simulation for that potential scenario.
"T" for "TEAM," not Tannehill, is the difference
When it comes down to it, the Dolphins' success against the Saints will weigh mightily on every player putting forth their A-games.
Miami leads the NFL in red-zone scoring percentage (87.5 percent), up from 11th last year (55.26 percent), according to Team Rankings. That's nothing to sneeze at and take lightly. It's a testament to where the franchise has grown since last year.
New Orleans understands. The Saints had many years of growing pains until they executed a formula that ultimately led them to their first Super Bowl (44) in 2010. After many years of coming up short, the boys in the black and gold gave the bedraggled post-Hurricane Katrina city its first NFL championship. Ironically, they did it in front of a packed Sun Life Stadium in Miami.
Tannehill, who tends to linger in the pocket beyond his shelf life, will have to depend on receivers coming up big like Rishard Matthews did Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons in the 3rd quarter.
With New Orleans' No. 4 spot in total defense (887 yards) compared to Miami in the 22nd spot (1116 yards), Tannehill will have to use more of the running game, while linemen build a wall against blitz packages when he goes to the air.
In all likelihood, Saints coach, Sean Payton, and his defensive coordinators will put double coverage on Dolphins' fifth year receiver, Brian Hartline.
However, this strategy could backfire on New Orleans because Miami, in the AFC's fifth spot in total receiving yards (827) and average receiving yards per game (275.7), has eight other credible targets. Running backs, Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller, round out the mix.
It's notable to point out that the Dolphins' offensive threat trumps Tom Brady (79.4 player rating) and his New England Patriots, another 3-0 team in the AFC.
Drew Brees' Saints or Ryan Tannehill's Dolphins? Ask a bookmaker
Las Vegas isn't putting much stake in Tannehill's player rating or simply believes the Dolphins' QB is a fluke, likely to crash and burn in the end.
Assuming the two teams even get there (not necessarily in a face-off), current betting odds through the fourth week favor the Saints (12/1) over the Dolphins (33/1) in winning Super Bowl 48, according to Bovada.
What are the bookmakers smoking? If it's true that over 70 percent of teams going undefeated at this stage will make the playoffs, how in the world can the San Francisco 49ers have higher odds (12/1) to win it all? For crying out loud; the 49ers struggled through their first three games this season.
The long and short of this anomaly is it's purely a sentiment bet and somewhere out there, someone believes Colin Kaepernick is going to suddenly catch on fire, get his game together and will San Francisco to a fairytale ending. And by the way, Kap's player rating is currently 72.5.
Things that make you go, "hmmm."
Well, what say you? Will Drew Brees and the Saints remain undefeated come Monday night, or will the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill prove that numbers don't lie?
Bradley is a professional writer, journalist, sportswriter and avid fan of the NBA, NFL, NCAA, PGA and tennis. He keeps a watchful eye on Miami Heat and Miami Dolphins developments.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Ryan Tannehill
- Miami Dolphins
- New Orleans Saints
- Drew Brees
- New Orleans