It isn’t often that two teams who face off in the preseason meet again in the regular season. That, however, will be the case on Thursday night when the Miami Dolphins host the New Orleans Saints. The clubs are scheduled to battle on the final night of the 2013 preseason and are also set to play each other in Week Four of the regular season.
The opponents have had very different results in their exhibition games. Miami, along with the Dallas Cowboys, plays one more preseason game than the rest of the league. They are 1-3, while New Orleans has been extremely successful, winning all three of their games. The Washington Redskins are the only other team without a loss.
With Drew Brees at quarterback and Sean Payton at head coach, the Saints are bound to have one of the top offenses in the league. Despite missing the playoffs in 2012, New Orleans didn’t have any trouble scoring. They were second with 427.9 yards per game and ranked third in points scored.
Unlike New Orleans, Miami still has some questions to be answered on offense. In his rookie campaign, Ryan Tannehill showed glimpses of an above-average quarterback. In 16 games, though, he still managed to throw more interceptions than touchdowns, and 19 other quarterbacks threw for more yards.
Through four preseason games, Tannehill appears ready to make the leap to becoming a quarterback that the Dolphins can rely on. He has yet to thrown an interception, while completing over 60 percent of his passes and three throws for touchdowns. After recording a 98.6 passer rating in the preseason, he won’t get a lot of playing time against the Saints.
The depth chart for the rest of the offense, though, is incomplete. The offensive line that protects Tannehill has struggled to find consistency. Former second-round pick Jonathan Martin has improved at left tackle after struggling in training camp, but, as a whole, the unit needs to do more to give Tannehill more time in the pocket.
Lamar Miller appears to be ready to get the bulk of the carries this season, but Daniel Thomas still has time to impress head coach Joe Philbin. Neither player ran for more than 325 yards last season, so Thomas can earn some more playing time. However, he must put up better numbers than the three yards on seven carries he accumulated last week.
Only two teams are heavier favorites on Thursday than the Dolphins. According to most Las Vegas casinos, Miami is a 5.5-point favorite.
Locally, the 7:30 p.m. ET start can be seen in Miami on WFOR (Ch. 4) and in New Orleans on WVUE (Ch. 8). A live stream online is available at NFL Preseason Live.