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Keys to the Game: Dolphins vs. Saints

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Defense

Sep 22, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan celebrates after a Kenny Vaccaro interception in the fourth quarter of their game against the Arizona Cardinals at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Again, who would have thought the Saints would have a Top 5 defense at this point? We honestly were just hoping for a much improved middle of the road defense at best, but to have this? It’s amazing.

The Dolphins are tied for 31st (2nd to last, tied with the Browns) in Sacks Allowed this season, surrendering 14 to the opposition. Only the Jaguars (15) have given up more. The Saints offense doesn’t have a ton of room to feel great, as they’ve allowed 10 this season.

Here’s some huge differences, the Saints are in the Top 10 in Forced Fumbles (T-4th with 4), and Top 10 in Interceptions (T-7th with 6). The Dolphins are currently 26th in Total Yards/Game with 319.3, and the Saints rank 4th in Total Yards/Game on defense with 295.7.

Pressure is everything, and while Ryan Tannehill isn’t a slouch by any means (he’s matured quite well), if the Saints keep generating the front seven pressure like they have been, they are sure to put Tannehill on his back a few times. Cam Jordan has continued to impress this young season, and he will draw some double teams on the night. Expect this to free up the other Saints pass rushers to wreak some havoc.

You can fully expect Mike Wallace to get some double team looks, and that would actually free up Brian Hartline a bit, so that’s actually the guy I would pay attention to on the night. The secondary has been banged up, so a guy like Chris Carr, who filled in nicely for his first official Saints game, should be a name to watch on the injury report.

Another thing to watch for is Roman Harper’s status. Despite Harper missing Sunday’s game, Kenny Vaccaro filled in adequately. Vaccaro, along with Keenan Lewis, got his first interception as a Saints last week. So, if Harper doesn’t go (and believe me, we would love to have him), expect Vaccaro/Jenkins to go the distance again.

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