As the New Orleans Saints prepare for a game against the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, one matchup to keep an eye on will be that of the Saints run defense and the Dolphins run defense.
The Saints are currently 3-point favorites to the Dolphins, according to DraftKings sportsbook, and the running threats on their team are a big reason why.
While Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram may not be having the greatest rushing seasons ever, with both under the 4.0 yards per carry mark so far this year, the threat that Taysom Hill brings as a runner from the quarterback spot brings another dimension to this Saints running game.
They weren’t able to get much going against the Buccaneers last week, as not many teams are against that front seven, but in order to have a chance against a hot Miami Dolphins team, they’ll have to get the ground game going.
Hill is averaging a team-high 5.9 yards per rush to go along with 311 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and the advantage of having an extra blocker when he keeps it on the ground makes it a tougher stop for a defense. His influence causes some hesitation for defenders when he hands the ball off to his running backs as well.
Despite this, the Saints are still 27th in the league in rushing yards per carry (4.0). This is mainly due to the lack of receiving threats on the team, allowing teams to stack the box and stop the run with little worry about getting beat over the top
So in order to have success on Monday night, the Saints are going to have to run into some loaded boxes to hopefully try and set up some play-action shots later in the game.
The Dolphins run defense has been pretty solid this season, allowing only 103.7 yards on the ground per game so far (eighth-best), but also have allowed 4.3 yards per rush (19th-best). They have the sixth-highest graded run defense, according to PFF team grades.
Big guys like Christian Wilkins and Zach Sieler on their defensive interior have done a good job of stuffing things up the gut – both with PFF run defense grades over 80.0.
So, it seems like the edges might be the best avenue to run through for the Saints in this game.
We’ll see how successful they are in doing so, but whoever wins this battle might decide the winner in the game outright.
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