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Ben Gretch is here to preview the New Orleans Saints and Miami Dolphins Week 16 matchup.
ANALYSIS

Monday Night Football Week 16 Preview and Prediction: New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins

New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: December 27, 2021

Game Time: 8:15 pm ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

  • Key Note: Both Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian are on the reserve/COVID-19 list, leaving fourth-round rookie Ian Book as the expected starter at quarterback for New Orleans

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New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins Prediction

The Dolphins head to Miami Monday night for a matchup with the banged-up Saints, who have been without both starting offensive tackles for some time. Terron Armstead and Ryan Ramcyzk were both listed as DNPs on New Orleans’ Thursday practice report, and while that was just an estimation because they didn’t actually practice, it’s not a great start in terms of their potential to return for Monday night’s game. 

That’ll be key because the Saints also announced Thursday that they placed nine players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including each of their top two quarterbacks, Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian. Reports indicate they will prepare for fourth-round rookie Ian Book to start Monday. Book has not taken a snap this season, and went 9-for-16 for 126 yards and an interception with no touchdowns in his lone preseason appearance. A fringe prospect who some evaluators thought wasn’t draft-worthy, Book was the winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history in part because he played with a lot of NFL talent in guys like Chase Claypool and Cole Kmet. 

But he did flash mobility in college, rushing for over 1,500 yards in his career. We know about Sean Payton’s willingness to tailor his offense to Taysom Hill, and I have to imagine Book’s mobility will factor into the game plan. While the pass protection may be an issue and the skill position talent for the Saints is more or less nonexistent outside Alvin Kamara, mobility is a virtue for what a no-name quarterback may mean to the excitement level of a game. Book’s dual-threat nature plus his inexperience as a passer could lead to anything from some surprising effectiveness as a scrambler to multiple turnovers that lead to easy points for the Dolphins, either on pick-sixes or because of great field position. 

The Saints feature a high-level defense that’s well-equipped to contain this version of the Dolphins’ offense, with Tua Tagovailoa looking unwilling to push the ball vertically down the field. The key for Miami might be the return of Jaylen Waddle, who has feasted from his slot role all season. DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki provide enough of a vertical threat to keep Waddle from being a centerpiece of defensive gameplans in his underneath role, but Waddle has been a key chain-mover. He also has high-end speed, and while the big after-the-catch plays haven’t been there in bunches this season, it’s clearly a trait he possesses. 

The Dolphins also got some surprisingly effective running from Duke Johnson last week. The Saints boast an impressive run defense that typically pushes teams more toward the pass, so Johnson and the rest of the Dolphins’ backfield don’t figure to be major players in this one, but that may push Miami’s offense to be a little more aggressive. Starting safety Malcolm Jenkins was one of the Saints’ players placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, as well as four other defensive players. 

The tough-on-paper matchup for the Dolphins, plus Book starting, has this over/under at an astonishingly low 37.5 points. Dolphins’ games have gone under that number in four of their past seven contests, and six times total for the season. The Saints have gone under that number in two of their past four, but just four times overall. You can certainly see the shape of a 13-7 contest here if Book is a total dud, but 37.5 is just not a high bar to clear. The fact that Book can move around the pocket a little bit, and the uncertainty around who might even be available for the Saints on the defensive side of the ball, has me on the over.

New Orleans Saints vs Miami Dolphins Pick

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Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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