When the NFL schedule was first released, tonight’s game in New Orleans between the visiting Dolphins and the home town Saints didn’t look like the greatest Monday night matchup. The Saints were getting Sean Payton back, but their defense was still suspect, and no one knew just what to make of the Miami Dolphins.
Now, the entire complexion of this game has changed. The Dolphins are looking to keep pace with the New England Patriots by staying undefeated, and the New Orleans Saints are breezing through the NFC South, no pun intended.
In the grand scheme of the NFL season, this may well turn into just another Monday night football game, but with two 3-0 teams squaring off against each other from different conferences, we have to consider the possibility that this could be a preview of the Super Bowl in February.
The Dolphins and Saints both appear to be juggernauts on their own merits. The Saints have won their three games by a total of 32 points, meaning they’re beating teams by more than 10 points per game.
The Dolphins haven’t been quite as adept, but they’ve netted +21 points in their three wins, handing the Colts their only loss of the season and knocking off the Falcons at home just a week ago.
Conventional wisdom suggests that the Dolphins won’t be able to keep up with the Saints’ offensive production, but don’t count Miami out just yet. Although they were a trendy pick in the offseason, some, myself included, wondered if Ryan Tannehill would be up to the challenge of taking the Dolphins’ offense to the next level.
As it turns out, Tannehill may be the next big thing in Miami. Last week, he led a gutsy scoring drive to top the Atlanta Falcons, and he appears to have that clutch factor that’s so elusive in the NFL.
About a month ago, tonight’s game between the Dolphins and the Saints looked like a solid, albeit forgettable, matchup between two middle of the road teams. After three weeks of NFL action, it’s apparent that tonight’s game is more than that.
While I’m not quite comfortable calling the Saints or the Dolphins Super Bowl contenders just yet, they’re getting close. At this point, teams such as the Broncos, Patriots and Seahawks seem to be a step ahead of the rest of the league, but there’s always room for one more team to compete, and after tonight’s game, there may be a fourth team worth mentioning as a Super Bowl contender.