The Miami Marlins ended the 2013 baseball season in a historic and bizarre manner. Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter, while waiting in the on-deck circle as the Marlins scored on a two-out wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers 1-0 Sunday. It is the fifth no-hitter in Marlins’ franchise history. How many Miamians actually witnessed it? Chances are more Miami Dolphins fans collectively will view the Monday night game as they visit the New Orleans Saints. The Monday night battle of unbeatens is my WWW pick of the week.
The Dolphins are the talk of the town in Miami. After facing the likes of Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan the past two weeks, Drew Brees and the Saints will be an eye test on how good this team looks. After four straight losing seasons and one playoff appearance in the previous 11, Miami is 3-0 for the first time since 2002. The Dolphins finished 9-7 that season, but did not make the playoffs.
Ryan Tannehill proved they are a different team from past struggles. Tannehill recorded his first last-minute comeback victory against the Falcons when he engineered a 13-play, 75-yard drive capped with a 1-yard TD pass to rookie tight end Dion Sims with 38 seconds remaining.
Tannehill has been a much more accurate passer this season, especially on throws traveling more than 10 yards downfield. He has completed 62.9percent of such passes, best in the NFL. Tannehill’s downfall has been literally his down fall, he’s been sacked an NFL-high 14 times through three weeks and could use more support from a running game that averages less than four yards a carry.
The Saints are back on track after asking “Who dat team on the field ”? last season. After giving up an NFL-worst 440.1 yards and 28.4 points per contest while coach Sean Payton served his year-long suspension in 2012, the Saints rank among the league leaders giving up 295.7 yards and 12.7 points a game. New Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan has improved the unit switching to a 3-4 scheme.
Lastly, Drew Brees. Along with the defense, Brees has the team off to its best start since going 13-0 during its Super Bowl-winning season of 2009. Coming off 342 passing yards last weekend vs. the Arizona Cardinals, Brees has thrown for at least 300 in eight consecutive games, averaging 358.1 yards and connecting on 18 touchdowns during that time. The Dolphins will need to contain the Super Bowl XLIV MVP’s favorite target Jimmy Graham.
The third-round pick out of the University of Miami caught 19 passes for 313 yards and three TDs in the last two games. The Saints entered the week ranked fourth in the NFL with an average of 318.7 yards letting the pigskin fly, however also like the fish its running game is suffering near the bottom of the league with 3.5 yards per rush.
The game kicks off Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
WWW Prediction: Miami moves on to 4-0. I have them at 27-24.