If the Chargers want to stay in the AFC playoff hunt, this is a must win against a Miami Dolphins team that is in complete disarray because of all the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin fiasco. A playoff team takes care of business here on the road, regardless of the early start time, but I’m not so sure this Chargers team has the mental fortitude or skill to pull this off. Lets get to the three keys of the game..
I know that this didn’t lend itself to victory last week, but Peyton Manning is no normal quaterback. This week, they get Ryan Tannehill who is not quite on Manning’s level, shocking I know, and doesn’t lead a quick strike offense with playmakers galore. They are not equipped to take advantage of the minimal amount of time the Chargers almost assuredly will give them. In three of the last four games, San Diego has won the time possession battle by 14 minutes each time, as coach Mike McCoy has made a stronger commitment to the run game and short passing game. It seems to me they know they can’t really stretch the field with their receivers and have reacted accordingly, and with Philip Rivers having a renaissance, this is a pretty good game plan. This is all taken into account knowing that the Dolphins possess a pretty good defense, because I truly trust Rivers to keep up his great play this year. I hope we get to see some more scrambles from him too.
As a California Golden Bears fan, I’ve watched him for several years now and I can tell you he is a beast. Now did I expect him to be the top receiver on the team already? (not best pass catcher, that’s the immortal fat, basketball player Antonio Gates) No, but I can say I thought he would be an above- average receiver. He is so fluid in his routes and snaps off defensive backs with headfakes and quick, sharp cuts. This week, he’s going to need to step up again and provide Rivers with about 7 catches and 85-90 yards in order to really make these long drives result in touchdowns instead of field goals. His matchup with cornerback Brent Grimes, who has allowed less than 25 yards in coverage 5 times this year, is going to be a great one to watch. I like Keenan’s routes and Philip’s accuracy, so I’m going with Allen to win this matchup.
Charger’s Front 7 vs Dolphins Run Game
Once again the Chargers front 7 is being called on to have a big game, but this week it’s in the run game and not the pass rush. After seeing the Dolphins run game gain 2 yards last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, I feel that putting the game on Tannehill’s shoulder is exactly what needs to be done. The Buccaneers run defense is decidedly better than the Chargers, but with Incognito and Martin out and only one above-average lineman starting, Mike Pouncey, I see the Chargers needing to assert their dominance in the trenches. Corey Liuget will be counted on to have a big game as the run stuffer Charger fans are hoping he can continue to develop into. This will also be an interesting game to see how Manti Te’o can hold up in the run game. His ability to traverse the confusion around the line of scrimmage to find Dolphins backs Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas will be vital, as this is a game to show the Chargers they made the correct pick in choosing the playmaker from Notre Dame.
In all honesty, I have no idea how this game is going to turn out. The Chargers seem like a team wrought with some bad luck this year (Texans, Titans, and Washington losses), a team that is destined for 8-8. This means that they are looking at a win this week to get to 5-5, so it’s Chargers (-2.5) in a 24-20 win. I just don’t like the Dolphins toxic locker room situation and having the Chargers favored by under a field goal is very generous of Vegas.