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San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins: Preview and Pick
San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins: Preview and Pick
The Miami Dolphins have a very good football team, but recently they cannot escape the off the field scandal involving bullying and hazing on the team. The rest of the team are hoping to fight on and get some wins and perhaps even make the playoffs. The San Diego Chargers are also hoping to make the playoffs but are looking up at the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos in the standings. The Chargers hit the east coast again and are looking to make a run at making the playoffs.
San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins Odds
The opening NFL point spread for this game will change leading up to game time as the off the field scandal is affecting the offensive line of the Dolphins. This unit was not good enough to begin with. So with that in mind this line could change leading up to kick off so make sure to look for the latest line when it is released by the top rated online sportsbooks.
The Chargers moved the ball well against the Broncos but could not finish the deal. The Chargers closed the gap late in the second half but couldn't catch up. The Chargers were inside the Denver 23 three times in their first four possessions and had to settle for field goals of 26 and 40 yards by Nick Novak. Novak was wide left on a 37-yard attempt with 1:38 left before halftime. That would not be enough and Peyton Manning pulled away crushing the Bolts in this game. Now the Chargers are in a must win spot against the Dolphins.
The latest football betting trends for this game reveal some very interesting betting angles for both teams. The total has gone under in 5 of San Diego's last 5 games when playing Miami and the total has gone under in 4 of San Diego's last 5 games when playing on the road against Miami. San Diego is 2-5 straight up and against the spread (ATS) in its last 7 games when playing Miami.
Miami is 7-2 straight up in its last 9 games when playing San Diego and Miami is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games at home and 1-4-1 straight up in its last 6 games overall. The total has gone over in 16 of San Diego's last 23 games on the road and this could end up being a highs coring game.
San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
King Dunlap had to leave the game again with possibly his third concussion of the year or he had a neck injury, either way, Dunlap has not been reliable to stay on the football field. The Chargers next guy on the depth chart would be Mike Remmers, but is he a better option over D.J. Fluker? Fluker has kicked over to the left side a couple of times already this season. He has been alright on the left side of the line, but he has had his struggles over there. He still may be the best option if Dunlap has to miss any time.
Who knows how much time Dunlap will have to miss though. If this is indeed his third concussion of the season, that issue doesn’t seem to be leaving any time soon and he has to take some time off. The offensive line’s depth is getting tested over and over this year. The Chargers will have to figure something out.
The San Diego Chargers have taken two bites out of the meat of the schedule and it's clear they're reaching for something to settle their stomach.
Sunday's loss, their second straight, is stuck in their throat after falling to the Broncos, 28-20. The Chargers rallied from a 21-6 deficit to make it a one-possession game with more than four minutes remaining.
But a dreadful series -- fumble, sack, incomplete pass -- forced the Chargers to punt and that would be the last time they saw the football.
The latest loss comes on the heels of the overtime heartbreaker in Washington, D.C., when the team couldn't score late in regulation from the Redskins' 1-yard line despite having a first down.
Up next are trips to Miami, Kansas City and a visit by the Bengals.
Where or where did the Chargers momentum go?
Truth is, this team is in a rebuilding phase and they are proving it as the season matures. The Chargers (4-5) have sunk below .500 and of their four wins, but one has come against a winning team (Colts).
Chargers coach Mike McCoy got beat by his old team, the Broncos -- he was Denver's offensive coordinator last year.
He was in no mood to compare how good this year's Broncos team is to last year, with his hands full on trying to get the Chargers back on track.
"It's a new football team, very similar to here," McCoy said. "I'm not worried about how they were last year. We have to try and find a away to beat them this year."
The Chargers will have trouble beating anyone as long as their offense continues to struggle when deep in rivals' territory and a pass defense which gets torched on a weekly basis.
Add the mounting injuries that any NFL team faces this time of the year and the Chargers seem closer to producing their second straight losing season than breaking their three-year streak of not making the playoffs.
"It's all about winning and losing," inside linebacker Donald Butler said. "And we lost."
What has to be found, for the second straight week, is amnesia. This one, like the debacle in D.C., has to be put away early with another East Coast trip on the horizon.
"We have to find a way to turn this thing around this week," McCoy said.
The man making the offense tick continues to be Philip Rivers. The quarterback is on track to set a new NFL single-season record for completion percentage, connecting at a clip of 71.6 percent. Overall, he’s completed 232 of 324 attempts for 2,691 yards with 18 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. In addition to his outstanding completion percentage, Rivers is also on track to set a new career-high for season passer rating and his current mark of 105.9 is more than 10 points higher than his career rating of 95.5. Rivers is averaging 299.0 yards per game, which if it continues would also set a career high as his previous best was 294.4 in 2010.
- On Offense for the Dolphins
Second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill will line up under center for the Dolphins on Sunday. He’s completed 202 of 331 attempts (61.0 percent) for 2,206 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for an 81.2 passer rating. While he’s had his fair share of success this year, he’s also been hit hard, having been sacked 37 times. Tannehill’s top targets include Brian Hartline (43 catches for 534 yards and two touchdowns) and free agent acquisition Mike Wallace (40 receptions for 495 yards and one touchdown). On the ground, the Dolphins feature a two-headed rushing attack spearheaded by Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Miller has carried the ball 100 times for 450 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns, while Thomas has toted it 64 times for 214 yards (3.3 yards per carry) and a pair of TDs as well.
- On Defense for the Chargers
The Chargers are coming off an outing against Denver in which they held the Broncos to just 84 yards on the ground, only the third time this season the Broncos failed to reach the century mark. Injuries have opened the door for several young players to contribute big plays, particularly at outside linebacker where last week Thomas Keiser managed to get a team-high three hits on quarterback Peyton Manning, while Tourek Williams recorded his first-career sack, along with a forced fumble that led to a Chargers’ touchdown . Meanwhile, for the second week in a row, inside linebacker Manti Te’o set a new career-high with nine tackles.
- On Defense for the Dolphins
Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler pace the team in tackles with 66 and 63 respectively. A dangerous pass rusher, Cameron Wake leads the Dolphins with 5.5 sacks, followed by Jared Odrick with 3.5. The team has also had a knack for picking the ball off, totaling 12 interceptions on the season, which ranks fifth in the NFL. Dmitri Patterson boasts four of them, while Brent Grimes has two, including a 94-yard pick six against the Cincinnati Bengals.
After a disheartening loss to the NFL's last winless team, the Miami Dolphins are looking to end their struggles and move past the distractions caused by the Richie Incognito saga.
Tied with the Dolphins on the outside of the AFC playoff race, the San Diego Chargers also hope to get right Sunday when they seek their first win in Miami in almost 32 years.
Playing for the first time since allegations of bullying between starting offensive linemen engulfed the locker room in controversy, the Dolphins (4-5) lost for the fifth time in six games with a 22-19 setback at previously-winless Tampa Bay on Monday night.
Second-year tackle Jonathan Martin alleges he was harassed daily by teammates, including Incognito, who has been suspended. Martin left the team before last week's game and is scheduled to meet with an NFL special investigator, while owner Stephen Ross has formed two committees to study the team's locker room culture.
"We have good guys on this team who understand adversity and understand how to handle it," quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. "This is a good test. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not saying it's fun to deal with. But I have faith in these guys."
Now Miami coach Joe Philbin faces the challenge of keeping his team focused on its goal of reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Despite their recent swoon, the Dolphins trail the New York Jets by just one game for the AFC's sixth and final postseason spot.
While the Dolphins have allowed the most sacks in the league (37) and figure to be even more vulnerable up front with Martin and Incognito sidelined, San Diego's pass rush has only managed a pair of sacks over its last two games.
The Chargers (4-5) - also one game back in the playoff hunt, but in 11th place when you include tiebreakers - hope to bounce back after dropping games to Washington and Denver by a combined 14 points.
Since giving up a total of 15 points in consecutive wins over Indianapolis and Jacksonville, San Diego has allowed 58 over the past two weeks. Robert Griffin III and Peyton Manning combined to complete 70.5 percent of their passes for 621 yards against the Chargers, who rank 28th in the league with 279.6 passing yards allowed per game.
"What happens when you play a good team like this, the little mistakes blow up in a hurry," said coach Mike McCoy after Manning burned his team for four touchdown passes.
Tannehill will look to take advantage of San Diego's scuffling pass defense after completing 67.1 percent of his attempts for 437 yards with two scores and one pick in his last two games. He connected on only 54.5 percent for 942 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions during the team's four-game losing streak.
Tannehill, however, would like to get some help from a running game that was limited to a franchise-low two yards against the Buccaneers. One game after posting the first 100-yard effort of his career, Lamar Miller carried seven times for two yards - with a long of four.
"We didn't have any type of way to keep them off balance because we weren't able to establish the run," Philbin said.
In the most recent meeting on Oct. 2, 2011, Philip Rivers completed 21 of 31 passes for 307 yards and a touchdown in a 26-16 win over visiting Miami.
On Sunday, Rivers threw for 218 yards on 19 of 29 passing with one score in a 28-20 home loss to the Broncos. He fired a seven-yard scoring strike to Danny Woodhead, who has a team-high 53 catches for 408 yards and four touchdowns.
Rivers, who has a career-high 71.6 completion percentage, has connected on 74.3 percent for an average of 328.0 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions in five road games.
He could find the going a bit more difficult against Miami, which has allowed an average of 176.0 passing yards while causing seven turnovers over its last four contests.
Making matters worse, San Diego left tackle King Dunlap went down with a strained neck against Denver and doesn't know if he'll be able to play. The Chargers also have lost outside linebacker Larry English for the season due to a pectoral injury.
San Diego has lost on its last six trips to Miami, including a pair of playoff meetings. The Chargers' last victory in south Florida was the well-known 41-38 overtime thriller in the AFC Divisional playoff game on Jan. 2, 1982.
The Miami Dolphins' fast start to the season has become a distant memory, lost in a current 1-5 slump that has featured struggles on the field and turmoil in the locker room.
The San Diego Chargers are in the midst of their own struggles that has them chasing a playoff spot and they'll try to get right this Sunday with their first victory in Miami in nearly 32 years.
Under second-year head coach Joe Philbin, the Dolphins raced out to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 2002 season, but that quickly gave way to a four-game losing streak.
Miami snapped that slide with a 22-20 overtime victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Oct. 31, but reports began to surface days before that game that tackle Jonathan Martin had left the team due to emotional issues following a prank at the team's lunch room earlier in the week.
Then, on Nov. 4, guard Richie Incognito was suspended by the club for his alleged role in bullying Martin, putting a lot of negative focus on the Dolphins ahead of their Monday night matchup with winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers were winless no more after besting the Dolphins 22-19.
Miami did rally from a 15-point deficit with 19 straight points, but Tampa Bay scored the winning touchdown early in the fourth as its defense stood up from there.
"(The Buccaneers) did a great job but we had plenty of opportunities and they played better in the fourth quarter and deserved to win," said Dolphins coach Joe Philbin. "They played better than us out the gate and the film will say that when we watch the tape. They had better tempo, they controlled the line of scrimmage better and you don't want to go on the road and dig yourself into a 15-0 hole, which is what we did."
Ryan Tannehill connected on 27-of-42 passes for 229 yards with two touchdown throws, while second-year wide receiver Rishard Matthews broke out with 11 receptions for 120 yards and two scores.
Miami, though, ended the game with a mere two yards rushing and allowed 140 on the ground.
"It's definitely tough because we want to be a balanced team," said Tannehill. "We want to be a team that can establish the run game and then use it to set up play-action and things like that, so it's something that we'll definitely try to get back on track."
The Dolphins will look to do so against a Chargers team they have bested at home in six straight meetings, including playoffs. San Diego has not picked up a win in Miami since Jan. 2, 1982 in a divisional playoff matchup at the Orange Bowl.
The Chargers have won the last two meetings overall, including 26-16 in 2011, and the all-time series is even at 14-14.
San Diego comes in with an identical 4-5 record, having lost two straight following a bye. After an overtime loss two weekends ago in Washington, the Chargers were unable to capitalize early and dropped a 28-20 decision to the Denver Broncos this past Sunday.
The Chargers trailed 28-6 early in the third quarter before Philip Rivers threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to running back Danny Woodhead in the third frame and Ryan Mathews scored on the ground from a yard out early in the fourth.
However, settling for two field goals in the first half ended up being the difference.
"Offensively early on there we weren't able to get touchdowns," said Bolts head coach Mike McCoy. "We had the three field goal attempts there. Against a good team like this you have to finish drives with touchdowns in the red area. That's something we did not do a good job of early in the game."
Rivers threw for 218 yards while completing 19-of-29 pass attempts, getting sacked four times. Mathews ended with 59 yards rushing and Ronnie Brown, the second-overall pick of the 2005 draft by Miami, added 36 yards on nine carries.
San Diego lost despite holding the ball for more than 38 minutes compared to Denver's time of possession of 21 minutes and 57 seconds.
"We kept battling and made it a one-score game and had a chance," said Rivers. "Our defense gave us enough opportunities."
Probably a popular waiver claim in fantasy football this week, Matthews had a coming out party on Monday night with his game. It was unexpected to say the least, given his previous career highs in a game were four catches and 42 yards.
However, the 24-year-old became the first player in club history to have 11 or more catches and two touchdowns in a single game.
Lost in the mix behind Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline, who have combined for 83 catches and over 1,000 yards this season, Matthews has stepped into the inside role left vacated due to Brandon Gibson's season-ending knee injury.
"I have to be honest with you, Matthews has exceeded my expectations at that position," Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said. "I see him more as an outside receiver than an inside receiver. The inside guys have to be nifty and he's a little more niftier than I gave him credit for."
Sherman will now be tasked with getting Miami's 25th-ranked ground game going after the horrid performance versus Tampa Bay. A return home could help as running back Lamar Miller, who had two yards on seven carries Monday night, had a career-high 105 yards rushing in the win over visiting Cincinnati and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry at home this season.
Tannehill has also done well at home this season, completing six touchdown passes to three interceptions, but will be behind a shorthanded offensive line.
In addition to missing Martin and Incognito, backup tackle Will Yeatman reportedly suffered a torn ACL in practice on Wednesday that would end his season.
That isn't good news for Tannehill, who has been sacked 37 times this season.
Miami's secondary did grab its 12th interception of the season on Monday after having just 10 all of last year. No. 12 came from safety Jimmy Wilson, his second of the season.
Defensive end Cameron Wake had three sacks versus the Bengals before coming up empty against the Bucs, while linebacker and leading tackler Dannell Ellerbe is coming off a solid game in which he had 11 tackles and a sack.
Miami will need to knock Rivers out of rhythm given his success this season. He has completed 71.6 percent of his passes with 18 touchdown throws to seven picks for an excellent 105.9 passer rating.
Rivers' average of 328 passing yards per game on the road this year is second- best behind only Peyton Manning and he has three games this season in which he completed at least 20 passes and 80 percent of his attempts. That matches Brett Favre and Drew Brees for a single-season high.
Rivers' top weapons are Woodhead, who has caught a club-high 53 passes with four touchdowns out of the backfield while also running for 220 yards and a score, and tight end Antonio Gates.
Gates caught four of eight targets last Sunday for 62 yards and is 67 yards away from 9,000 in his career. He is set to play in his 157th career game and has a chance to pass Dallas' Jason Witten (160 games) for the quickest to 9,000 yards.
Gates is also just six receptions shy of becoming the third-fastest to 700 career catches.
Rookie linebacker Tourek Williams notched his first career sack and also forced a fumble. He could see increased playing time with Larry English having gone on injured reserve due to a biceps injury suffered versus Denver.
Other young contributors on San Diego's 29th-ranked defense include linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te'o as well as cornerback Derek Cox and defensive end Corey Liuget.