NFL Betting Online: While history tells us that preseason results are not always indicative of regular season performance, it’s difficult to envision either the New Orleans Saints or Miami Dolphins being all that different than what they’ve displayed in their exhibitions.
Obviously, the Saints are highly unlikely to go undefeated during the rigorous regular season; but the passing game is already humming (without Marques Colston), and the defense appears to be competent, at least – a would-be vast improvement on last year’s mess of a unit. Meanwhile, the Dolphins, who received an extra week of game action due to the Hall of Fame game, are 1-3 and possess an offense littered with question marks.
However, the Dolphins’ backups may be a bit stronger than those of the Saints, according to BookMaker. Miami is a 6-point favorite at home in Week 4 while the point total sits at 36 – the lowest of all contests.
Drew Brees failed to take a snap in last year’s final warmup game so bettors should assume head coach Sean Payton will take the same approach this week. Second-stringer Luke McCown will most likely join Brees on the sidelines, so expect the majority, if not all, of the snaps to be given to rookie Ryan Griffin. For the preseason, Griffin has gone 17 of 28 (61-percent) for 182 yards while throwing one touchdown and no interceptions.
The backfield trio of Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas will likely be spectators as well, giving Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson the running workload. Thus far, Cadet has rushed 22 times for just 51 yards but has reeled in six catches for 59 yards. Robinson has been more effective on the ground, carrying the rock 27 times for 113 yards while also catching five passes for 53 yards.
Establishing the tailbacks as receiving threats is something Payton loves to employ in order to create mismatches all over the field; all five running backs remaining on the roster bear this ability. Ingram, who strictly lined up in the backfield at Alabama in college, sees a huge advantage in this versatility.
“Well, we’ve got five backs that can line up anywhere on the field and that can run routes and catch the ball very effectively,” Ingram said. “It just depends on the personnel and play call. If it happens to be they call, ‘Empty,’ and I’m in there, I can line up in the slot and run the route as well, so can (RB Travis) Cadet, (RB) Khiry (Robinson), (RB Darren) Sproles, as you know. We all can contribute in every phase of the offense.”?
Not that the Saints need more wideout threats. Even without Colston, New Orleans has averaged the third-most passing yards per game after three preseason weeks. Standouts that should be available for pass consumption against the Dolphins on Thursday include rookie Kenny Stills (seven receptions, 140 yards, two touchdowns), Nick Toon (six receptions, 133 yards), Andy Tanner (six receptions, 92 yards, two touchdowns) and Preston Parker (seven receptions, 81 yards, two touchdowns).
Payton is 18-15 during his tenure in The Big Easy; however, Week 4 has not been kind as the Saints own a 1-6 record under Payton in the final week.
While Miami finished 7-9 last season, expecting even that moderate success in 2013 is a bit optimistic (even in a division that features the quarterback train wrecks that are the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills).
The preseason has revealed that underrated, second-year signal caller Ryan Tannehill (34 of 56 for 377 yards and three TDs) still looks comfortable under center. However, it’s the rest of the roster that gives reason for worry: the offensive line, a below-average unit in 2012 that lost left tackle Jake Long, played together for the first time in last week’s loss to Tampa Bay; the tailbacks are averaging just 3.2 yards per carry; and Dustin Keller, expected to be a Tannehill-favorite in the passing game, tore every knee ligament possible last week and will miss the entire season.
Tannehill played a couple series in last year’s final tune-up, but that probably won’t happen again this year. The QB reps should be split between Matt Moore and Pat Devlin in his stead. Moore has not experienced the type of success you expect from a veteran playing against mostly backups, completing just 55 percent of his pass attempts for 311 yards, a touchdown and two picks. Devlin has been moderately better in the limited sample, tallying a 60-percent completion rate in a handful of fewer attempts for 248 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
On the bright side, the defense has played well through four games, ranking 6th in yards per game and 7th in points allowed per contest. The first team has been particularly stout, limiting opposing starting quarterbacks to a combined 51 percent completion rate and only one touchdown while nabbing two interceptions and sacking them six times for 36 yards. This unit won’t be on display Thursday night, but their progression throughout the season will be vital if the team wants to hit the over (currently going at +120) on the 8 season wins currently posted at BookMaker.
Miami coach Joe Philbin is 1-7 in the preseason during his two seasons as head coach. The under is 4-3 in his games with one push occurring as well.
The NFL odds for this Thursday game were first available at BookMaker sportsbook. The Dolphins were pegged as 6-point chalk while the total opened at 36. You can bet on this matchup live at BookMaker.
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