NFL Week 4 Preview: Saints vs. Dolphins
Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.
Coverage by: Andrew Fleischer
Matchup: New Orleans Saints offense vs. Miami Dolphins defense
- WR Michael Thomas vs. CB Xavien Howard – Michael Thomas has lined up as the left wide receiver on 53 of his 91 routes through Week 3, and he’s earned an 82.4 overall grade as the Saints’ number No. 1 receiver. His 2.05 yards per route run is 12th out of 39 wide receivers with at least 18 targets. He’ll be opposed by Xavien Howard, who’s graded out poorly through two games so far, to the tune of a 40.8 overall grade. He’s being targeted for every 3.9 snaps he’s played in coverage, the fifth-worst mark among 109 cornerbacks with at least 38 coverage snaps.
- QB Drew Brees vs. EDGE Cameron Wake and EDGE William Hayes – Drew Brees has been pressured on only 21.1 percent of his dropbacks this season, the second-lowest rate among all quarterbacks. When pressured, he’s been accurate on 71.4 percent of his throws, the ninth highest mark among quarterbacks, to go along with a second-best 88.7 overall grade. He’ll be keeping an eye out for the alternating duo of Cameron Wake and Williams Hayes rushing to his right. Wake’s 13.4 pass-rushing productivity mark is 12th of 61 4-3 defensive ends with at least 25 pass-rushing snaps. Hayes has a pass-rushing productivity grade of 19.0, the second-best mark among eligible 4-3 defensive ends.
Coverage by: Cyrus Geller
Matchup: Miami Dolphins offense vs. New Orleans Saints defense
- WR DeVante Parker vs. CB Ken Crawley – DeVante Parker currently leads the Dolphins in yards per route run at 2.04, which is 19th out of 92 qualified receivers in the NFL this year. He is also the team’s top deep threat, with a catch rate of 37.5 on deep balls (20-plus yards) and has the most receiving yards on those deep passes. He will likely draw Ken Crawley a lot on Sunday, who has been one of the few bright spots on the Saints defense. If he was qualified, his overall grade of 88.9 would rank second only to Jalen Ramsey among cornerbacks. Crawley was phenomenal last week against Carolina, as Cam Newton targeted him 10 times but he only allowed 30 receiving yards, and Newton’s passer rating when throwing at him was a lowly 47.9.
- T Ja’Wuan James vs. EDGE Cameron Jordan – James has been the best offensive lineman for the Dolphins thus far, as he easily has the highest overall grade at 82.8 (next closest is Anthony Steen at 51.7). James’ pass-blocking efficiency is at 98.2 this year, which is sixth out of 70 qualified offensive tackles. He will have to deal with Cameron Jordan, who is the fifth-highest graded edge defender this year at 89.7, and has the second highest run-defense grade at 91.0. He has been good rushing the passer as well, as his 12 total pressures is tied for the 10th most among 57 qualified 4-3 defensive ends.
- HB Jay Ajayi vs. LB A.J. Klein – Jay Ajayi hasn’t been as dominant as he was in 2016, but he still is the 11th highest graded running back after two games at 78.9, and he is tied for the fifth most missed tackles forced on rushing plays with 10. A.J. Klein has struggled in the run game this season, as he has missed three tackles in run defense, which is tied with Jonathan Casillas for the most among 19 qualified 4-3 outside linebackers, but his run-stop percentage of 6.2 is 15th out of 32 linebackers.