Chargers vs. Dolphins Odds & Picks: How To Bet L.A. On Sunday
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Herbert (left) and Keenan Allen.
Chargers vs. Dolphins
The Chargers enter Week 10 with a disappointing record of 2-6. It feels like we say this about the Chargers every season, but they have played better than their record suggests — in four of their losses, they had a fourth-quarter lead. And in their other two losses, they dropped passes that would’ve given them the win as time expired.
The Dolphins have been doing just the opposite since Tua Tagovailoa was named the starting quarterback. Despite being out-gained 913 to 457 in total yards, the Dolphins are 2-0 in his starts. Their defense and special teams creating points is why they’ve won, as those units have combined for three touchdowns and set up a fourth by taking a fumble down to the goal line.
Miami’s defense creates these opportunities through pressuring opposing quarterbacks with the fourth-highest blitz rate per Pro Football Reference. Against the Chargers, playing aggressively may do more harm than good, as Justin Herbert has a passer rating of 121.3 against the blitz and 99.9 against a normal rush.
Look for the Chargers to take advantage of one of the most blitz-happy teams and finally be the winner in one of their close games.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers offense has been running on all cylinders since Herbert took over at quarterback, ranking second in yards per game. They’ve even peaked since their bye, averaging 470 yards over their last three games, which ranks first in the league.
The reason LA has struggled despite moving the ball has been its inability to finish drives, as the Chargers are tied for the second-most field goal attempts per game. It will be up to Herbert to improve his play in the red zone to help create more touchdowns.
At a completion percentage of 48%, Herbert ranks third-worst among qualified when in the red zone. The Dolphins might just be what the doctor ordered to help get Herbert back on track: They’ve allowed 68% of their opponents’ red-zone trips to end in touchdowns, the 10th-highest mark in the league.
Chargers star receiver Keenan Allen — whose Pro Football Focus grade of 87.2 is third among 116 wide receivers — will be matched up against the weakest part of the Dolphins’ coverage unit: Slot corner Nik Needham, whose PFF grade of 50.7 ranks 90th of 117 cornerbacks. This mismatch will be attacked often as Allen ranks second in targets per game.
Defensively, the Chargers have struggled to stop the run, ranking 29th in yards per carry allowed but seventh in yards per pass attempt allowed. This will likely be a battle of strength vs. strength, as the Dolphins rank 32nd in yards per carry and 16th in yards per pass attempt.
The Chargers will be without defensive end Joey Bosa, their leader in quarterback pressures. Fortunately, they have Melvin Ingram, who is the seventh-ranked edge according to PFF, with a grade of 84. He’ll line up across Dolphins tackle Jesse Davis, who ranks 63rd of 75 in PFF grade with a mark of 59.7.
While the Chargers will miss Bosa, Ingram should be to create problems for the Dolphins on his own.
The Dolphins’ offense looked much better against the Cardinals in Week 9 than it did against the Rams in Week 8. Tagovailoa’s play was the main reason — he had a quarterback rating of 122.3 in Week 9 compared to 80.3 in Week 8.
This passing attack will be without Preston Williams, who showed a developing connection with Tua, logging four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown against the Cardinals before a foot injury took him out of the game. Williams leads the Dolphins with four receiving touchdowns this season and will be missed in the red zone.
Missing their No. 2 receiver, the running game will need to provide more support for the rookie quarterback. Dolphins running backs have gained just 107 yards on 39 rushing attempts with Tagovailoa as the starter.
Miami is still looking for someone to take over lead back duties with Myles Gaskin on IR. It looks to be a competition between Salvon Ahmed, Matt Breida and DeAndre Washington. But facing the Chargers’ weak run defense should be the perfect opportunity for any of these running backs to prove they can take the lead going forward.
Defensively, the Dolphins have played a bend-don’t-break style of football, ranking fourth in points per game allowed but 22nd in yards per game allowed. This is largely due to their aggressive style that’s helped them create the third-most turnovers in the NFL.
We’ll see if this game plan can have the same impact on Herbert, who faces pressure each week as he ranks third in the NFL in terms of percentage of throws under pressure, per Pro Football Reference.
Herbert has played well despite frequently being under pressure. While this is not the optimal situation for a young quarterback, it does prepare him for a matchup such as this one against the Dolphins.
I lean towards taking the Chargers at +1.5, but would prefer to pair this game with another and tease it — teasing the Chargers from +1.5 to +7.5 and Buccaneers down from -6 to a pick ’em would be my suggestion.
PICK: Tease Chargers +1.5 to +7.5