#277 Miami Dolphinsvs.#278 Los Angeles Chargers
Written by Chris Kubala
Miami Dolphins (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (0-1 SU, 0-0-1 ATS, 1-0 O/U)
NFL: Sunday, September 17, 2017, StubHub Center, Carson, California, 4:05 pm ET
Spread: Los Angeles -4.5; Over/Under: 45
It’s a matchup of AFC opponents in the City of Angels in a week 2 NFL clash. The Miami Dolphins make the long cross-country trek to face the San Diego Chargers Sunday afternoon. Miami opens their season here after their week 1 contest with Tampa Bay was postponed due to Hurricane Irma. San Diego came up a 24-21 loser to Denver on the road on Monday Night Football. Miami has a 15-13 edge in the regular season series and the teams split four postseason matchups. The Dolphins took a 31-24 road win in the most recent matchup on November 13, 2016.
Miami is in the same boat as Tampa Bay as their week 1 matchup was moved to week 11 thanks to Hurricane Irma. That means the Dolphins play 16 consecutive weeks as their bye week just went out the window. Miami went 10-6 last season and earned a wild card berth but there are some changes for the team in 2017, some made by design, others by necessity. The Dolphins were fortunate to make the postseason and have a winning record last season as they ended the year being outscored by 17 points. Miami went 8-2 in one score games last season and that sort of fortune isn’t usually sustainable. Can coach Adam Gase pull another successful season out of his hat and bring the Dolphins to the postseason in back to back seasons for the first time since a five season run from 1997-2001?
It will be a new quarterback running the show after Ryan Tannehill (261 of 389, 2995 yards, 19 TD, 12 INT, 164 rushing yards, TD) went down with a torn ACL in preseason during a non-contact drill. Rather than turn the reins over to Matt Moore (55 of 87, 721 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT) for the season, the Dolphins made the curious move to bring Jay Cutler out of the press box. He was 81 of 137 for 1,059 yards with four touchdowns, five picks and six fumbles in five games with the Bears before getting hurt last season. The run game will be anchored by Jay Ajayi, who busted out with 260 carries for 1,272 yards and eight scores last season. Kenyan Drake (33 carries, 179 yards, 2 TD) is next in line. When Cutler looks to throw, Jarvis Landry (94 receptions, 1136 yards, 4 TD), DeVante Parker (56 grabs, 744 yards, 4 TD) and Kenny Stills (42 catches, 726 yards, 9 TD) provide a solid trio of targets. Tight end Julius Thomas, who came over from Jacksonville, will be looked at to contribute as well. Cody Parkey, who was 20 of 21 on extra points and 20 of 25 on field goals for the Browns last year, takes over as the kicker.
Los Angeles was listless for large chunks of their game against the Broncos. They woke up in the fourth quarter, slicing a 24-7 deficit to 24-21 in the closing seconds. San Diego drove into field goal range in an attempt to force overtime: they made the first attempt but Denver called time out right before the snap. The second attempt was blocked, leaving the Chargers on the wrong end of a three point decision. San Diego was outgained 321-249 in the game. In addition, they lost the first down battle 22-17 and the time of possession battle 34:13 to 25:47 in the contest. The Chargers did force two turnovers while committing only one.
Philip Rivers completed 22 of 33 passes for 192 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Melvin Gordon had 18 carries for 54 yards in the game while Branden Oliver carried the ball four times for 10 yards. Gordon (25 yards, TD), Tyrell Williams (54 yards) and Keenan Allen (35 yards, TD) each had five catches for the Charters in the game. Travis Benjamin added three catches for 43 yards and a score. Younghoe Koo hit all three extra point attempts but his lone field goal attempt that counted, from 44 yards with seconds to play, was blocked.
Miami had an extra week to prepare for this one after Irma wreaked havoc on Florida. The Dolphins, for better or worse, are stuck with Cutler at quarterback barring a sudden change of heart that leads them back to Moore at some point. San Diego looked lifeless for three quarters but had a furious fourth quarter rally which fell just short. Fortunately for the Chargers, Miami doesn’t have that kind of defense like the Broncos. Look for Los Angeles to get their first win back in the city where they started back in the AFL days.
Los Angeles had their problems in all three facets in the opener. They gave up 24 points to a pop gun Broncos offense who gashed them on the ground. The offense forgot to show up for much of the first three quarters and the special teams had the potential tying field goal blocked, yet they were in a three point game. Miami had the week off and has to face 16 straight weeks, you know, like the NFL used to be before the advent of bye weeks. The Dolphins will have their toughness and resolve tested this season and it’s a safe bet that they don’t have the same sparkling success in close games.
The over is 7-1 in the Dolphins last 8 vs. AFC opponents, 6-1 in their last seven overall, 6-1 in their last seven against teams with a losing record, 4-1 in their last five contests in week 2 and 6-2 in their last eight on grass. Los Angeles has seen the over go 7-1 in their last eight Sunday games after playing on Monday night the week before and 14-3-1 in their last 18 games in week 2. Seeing that the Chargers hung 21 on a very good Broncos defense and gave up 24 to a subpar Denver offense, this one seems to point toward going over.
Aaron Nola and the Philadelphia Phillies will clash with Yu Darvish and the L.A. Dodgers Tuesday night from Citizens Bank Park.... Read More
Trevor Williams and the Pittsburgh Pirates will clash with Chase Anderson and the Milwaukee Brewers in NL Central action Tuesday night from PNC Park.... Read More
Vance Worley and the Miami Marlins will clash with Seth Lugo and the New York Mets in NL East action Monday night from Marlins Park.... Read More
The American League Central battles the American League East as the Minnesota Twins take on the New York Yankees in a matchup of playoff-hopeful teams. The game will take place at ... Read More
It’s the middle game of a big series between a pair of AL East rivals in the Inner Harbor. The Boston Red Sox are on the road as they play the second of three games against the B... Read More
It’s the opening game of a series between a pair of teams who have seen the light on their postseason hopes just about flicker out north of the border. The Kansas City Royals are... Read More
Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.