After a 31-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the New Orleans Saints (3-0) host the Miami Dolphins (3-0) at the Superdome in this weekend's matchup of two of the NFL's seven undefeated teams (went to press prior to Oakland-Denver Monday Night game). This also opens up a stretch where after the matchup against the undefeated Dolphins the Saints will successively travel to the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots, both 3-0 clubs.
A methodical offense, attacking defense and headhunting special teams have spurred the Saints to their seventh 3-0 start ever, their third under Head Coach Sean Payton. The team has improved to 4-0 three times, in 1991, 1993 and 2009
The Saints ran up 423 total net yards, their highest total in 2013, led by QB Drew Brees, who completed 29-of-46 passes for 342 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and six carries for 21 yards, including a seven-yard run into the end zone. Brees
compiled a 98.3 passer rating as his top target was TE Jimmy Graham, who led the team in receiving with nine receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. The defense faced Arizona's high-powered passing attack and only allowed one touchdown on the opening drive of the game and two entries into the red zone. DE Cameron Jordan had two sacks, while DE Glenn Foster and OLB Junior Galette added takedowns and CB Keenan Lewis and S Kenny Vaccaro each intercepted Cardinals QB Carson Palmer.
!(http://www.neworleanssaints.com/media-center/videos/Preview-Miami-Dolphins-vs-New-Orleans-Saints/cff2ae2b-57d5-4f38-9a17-19bd5023c0b4)The Saints face a stiff challenge from a rejuvenated Dolphins team under second-year Head Coach Joe Philbin who has the fins off to their first 3-0 start since 2002.
While the NFL traditionally explosive offense has been a key ingredient in the Saints start, several other factors have played role. The Saints are ranked sixth in the NFL in offense and fourth in the league in passing. A ball hawking defense is ranked fifth in the NFL in both opponent net yards per game (295.7) and in opponent points per game (12.7). Special teams has been aided by solid performances in the kicking game by K Garrett Hartley and P Thomas Morstead, while RB Darren Sproles ripped off two long returns in the punt return game on Sunday against the Cardinals.
Joining the consistent performance of Brees, who has completed 81-of-127 passes for 1,021 yards, and has posted six touchdown passes, while throwing for 300 yards in every game this season and a streak dating back to last season of eight, other contributors have also sparked the offense.TE Jimmy Graham leads the club in all receiving categories with 23 receptions for 358 yards with four touchdowns, following a performance of nine grabs for 134 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday against Arizona.
Coordinated by Rob Ryan, the defense has been bolstered by old and new. The secondary has been significantly upgraded by the additions of Lewis and Vaccaro. Lewis has combined with CB Jabari Greer and successfully defended some of the top receivers of opponents, while Vaccaro, S Roman Harper and S Malcolm Jenkins each have one pick apiece. ILB Curtis Lofton, who shares defensive team captain duties with Jenkins, leads the club with 23 tackles (17 solo), while Jordan leads the team with three quarterback takedowns.