GAME PREVIEW: DOLPHINS VS. CHARGERS
- Game: Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
- Line: Dolphins (-3) | O/U 52.5
The Miami Dolphins and the Los Angeles Chargers will battle Sunday night in a pivotal AFC encounter at SoFi Stadium. The Dolphins can clinch their first division title in 14 years with wins in their final five games, including next week’s clash against the Bills. The Chargers are just one game back in the hunt for a wild-card spot and have a favorable schedule after matchups with the Dolphins and Titans.
The Dolphins had their five-game winning streak snapped last week in a lopsided loss against the 49ers. Miami is also 8-1 this season when Tua Tagovailoa starts and finishes a game. The unlucky Chargers have dropped three of their last four games, with a slew of injuries proving too much to overcome. Los Angeles has three home games left on its slate but is just 2-3 at SoFi Stadium this season.
Miami’s high-octane offense is ranked eighth in scoring with 24.9 points each week and has posted 30-plus points in four of their previous six games. However, a lack of a consistent running game is a significant reason the Dolphins are 25th in the league in time of possession, with 29:15 per game.
Tua is the conductor of the NFL’s second-ranked passing attack, with 304.9 yards per outing. The third-year quarterback is No. 2 with a 77.4 Total quarterback rating, and his 21 touchdown passes rank sixth despite attempting just 317 passes heading into Week 14.
Raheem Mostert is the leading rusher for a Miami ground game, ranked 28th with just 89.7 rushing yards per game. Mostert has 573 yards and three scores on 125 carries, while Jeff Wilson is averaging a team-high 5.3 yards per rush on 40 carries for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns since being acquired from the 49ers.
Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle headline a Dolphins’ offense ranked fourth in total yards with 394.6 per game. Hill leads the NFL with 96 receptions and has a league-high 1,379 yards, and Waddle has caught 57 balls for 972 yards and six touchdowns. Trent Sherfield (25-355-2) and tight Mike Gesicki (24-269-4) have combined for 49 receptions, 624 yards, and six scores.
Linebackers Elandon Roberts and Jerome Baker are the top tacklers for a defensive unit that has allowed the ninth-fewest rushing yards each week. Roberts has a team-high 74 tackles and has added 2.5 sacks, while Baker has tallied 72 tackles and three sacks.
Edge rusher Melvin Ingram leads the team with six sacks, and linebacker Jaelan Phillips has posted five sacks for a defensive unit that is ranked 17th with 29 quarterback takedowns. Bradley Chubb has notched 2.5 sacks in four games since coming over in a trade with the Broncos.
The Dolphins’ 22nd-ranked pass defense allows 233.5 yards an outing and has the 10th-fewest interceptions with seven. Safety Jevon Holland has a team-high two interceptions, while five players have one pick each.
Los Angeles has the NFL’s 14th-ranked scoring offense with 22.7 points per game despite a rash of injuries on the offensive line and the receiving corps. The Chargers are averaging 24 points over their last three games and have scored 20-plus points in eight games this season.
Third-year quarterback Justin Herbert is ranked fourth with 3,339 passing yards and has thrown 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Oregon product has tossed three scoring passes in a trio of games and has six outings with multiple touchdowns despite missing his top two receivers for most of the season.
Austin Ekeler is the leading rusher for one of the league’s worst rushing attacks. Ekeler has picked up 589 yards and seven scores on 138 carries, while Joshua Kelley (32-138-1), Sony Michel (36-106-0), and rookie Isaiah Spiller (18-41-0) have combined for 285 yards and one touchdown.
Ekeler also has a team-high 85 receptions for 564 yards and five touchdowns for the league’s fifth-ranked passing offense. Second-year receiver Joshua Palmer has reeled in 57 passes for 612 yards and three scores, and tight end Gerald Everett has 43 catches for 462 yards and three touchdowns.
Injury-plagued top wideouts Mike Williams (38-510-3) and Keenan Allen (22-308-2) have played in parts of eight and five games, respectively.
Safety Derwin James has notched a team-high 106 tackles to go with four sacks and one interception for a defensive unit that has allowed the third-most points with 25.8 per game. Linebacker Drue Tranquill has tallied 101 tackles, three sacks, and one pick.
Los Angeles has struggled mightily to stop opposing running games and allows the fourth-most rushing yards each week with 151.5 yards. Pass-rushing specialist Khalil Mack leads the Chargers with seven sacks, and cornerback Bryce Callahan has a team-best three interceptions.
DOLPHINS VS CHARGERS PREDICTION
Both squads have bottom-5 rushing attacks in a projected shootout with an over/under of 52.5 points. Pass-catching running backs have torched the Dolphins for 513 yards and four touchdowns on 64 catches, which bodes well for Ekeler. The Chargers have surrendered the second-most rushing yards and the fourth-most touchdowns to enemy ball carriers.
Los Angeles wideout Mike Williams will suit up for his first game since reaggravating his ankle injury in Week 11 after only a few plays. Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle will also be in the starting lineup after suffering a leg injury (deep bruise) against the 49ers.
The Chargers have not played well at SoFi Stadium against teams not named the Chiefs, but the Dolphins are not a good road team. The game has all the ingredients to be a high-scoring affair, and the Dolphins will prevail in one of the season’s most entertaining games.
Prediction: Miami Dolphins 27, Los Angeles Chargers 26
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Marvin is a sports fanatic who enjoys writing, daily fantasy sports, and coaching baseball. The native Texan loves traveling overseas and experiencing new cultures. Marvin is an avid fisherman and his favorite hobby is cooking Asian cuisine with his wife. People-watching at outdoor cafes, visiting different zoos, and watching vintage wrestling videos are among his favorite pastimes. He is fascinated with King Cobras, the Himalayan mountains, and the street dogs of Bhutan. His favorite TV shows include The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and Have Gun – Will Travel. Marvin has coached baseball in Switzerland, Philippines, Brunei, and Bhutan.