Saints’ defense rises seven spots to fourth in NFL rankings

With three encouraging defensive performances behind them, the Saints continued their rise up the NFL stats on Tuesday.

After allowing a season-low 247 total yards in a smothering 31-7 win against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, the Saints’ defense jumped up seven spots to fourth in fewest yards allowed at 295.7 yards per game.

The 3-0 Saints, who play the Miami Dolphins (3-0) on Monday night, also moved up four spots from eighth to fourth against the pass at 184.3 yards a game and improved seven spots against the run, going from 27th to 20th at 111.3 per game.

In scoring defense, the Saints dropped their season average from 15.5 points per game to 12.7 and now rank fifth after being tied for sixth a week ago.

After allowing an NFL single-season record of 440.1 yards per game in 2012, the Saints’ defense actually is ranked higher than its record-setting offense — for one of the few times since Sean Payton arrived in 2006.

The Saints’ offense ranks sixth at 404.3 yards per game, up three spots from last week, and are fourth in passing with 318.7 yards a game and remained 24th in rushing despite a 12.2-yard increase over last week at 85.7 yards a contest.

The Dolphins, who shocked the Atlanta Falcons 27-23 on Sunday, rank 26th in total offense at 319.3 yards per game and are 22nd in total defense in allowing 372.0 yards per game.

The Saints and Dolphins are tied for ninth in turnover differential at plus-2. Both teams have six takeaways and four giveaways.

Here are the pertinent numbers for Monday night’s game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:

SAINTS

Offense: Total yards, 404.3 (6); rushing, 85.7 (24); passing, 318.7 (4); scoring, 23.3 (t15).

Defense: Total yards, 295.7 (4); rushing, 111.1 (20); passing, 184.3 (4); scoring, 12.7 (5).

Turnover differential: plus-2 (t9)/4 giveaways, 6 takeaways.

DOLPHINS

Offense: Total yards, 319.3 (26); rushing, 70.3 (28); passing, 249.0 (14); scoring, 23.3 (t15).

Defense: Total yards, 372.0 (22); rushing, 108.7 (19); passing, 263.3 (20); scoring, 17.7 (8).

Turnover differential: plus-2 (t9)/4 giveaways, 6 takeaways.