Miami Dolphins (5-8 SU, 4-9 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (3-10 SU, 5-8 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIA +1.5/SD 1.5
Over/Under Total: 45
The Miami Dolphins come to face the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday. Its been a tough season for both teams, especially the Chargers, who sit at 3-10, a team that many felt would usurp Denver as the AFC West kingpins this season. On Sunday, they had another awful offensive showing in a 10-3 loss to the Chiefs. They face a Miami team on Sunday that fell to the Giants at home on MNF, 31-24. The Dolphins have to now come out for the long road trip on the short week.
This game could carry a little extra emotion with it for the Chargers, with this possibly being their last home game in San Diego. One wonders how that will resonate in this game. Truth be told, theyve been unable to respond to any urgency this season and its iffy if theyre even able to do anything about it with the state of their football team. For the second straight game, they scored 3 measly points on Sunday.
A lot of the same issues keep plaguing the Chargers. The injury bug outbreak this season has been impossible to negotiate and the same would apply to most teams who have been stripped this dry from injuries. And a lot of those injuries have hit the offense, with Philip Rivers top weapons sidelined and an offensive line that has been playing at a slapstick level. Not a lot of offenses would be thriving under these conditions. Their receivers are now guys basically off the street.
While the injuries provide a good excuse for a 3-10 season thus far, the Chargers just havent played well. Guys havent stepped up to fill in voids. But this just might be the most dysfunctional O-line in all of football. Watching them, you might even wonder if they would be managing to thrive in the Sun Belt Conference. Rivers will take the snap and more often than not, defenders are immediately in his face, almost as if the offensive linemen were helping hasten the defenders pass rush. Literally, there have been times where defenders are hovering over him as hes dropping back to pass.
And the San Diego line cant open up a hole. The run game is second-last in the league and though Melvin Gordon shows flashes of potential, it doesnt matter with this line. They have been giving Gordon nothing to work with. Rivers, despite his receivers suffering an unending series of injuries, has still managed to make the SD aerial attack the 4th-ranked passing offense in the NFL. It just hasnt resonated into points very often, with their 19.2 points a game toward the bottom of the league.
Now that weve established how bad the Chargers are, they are at home and playing a Miami team that has their own issues. But In the Chargers last two games, theyve scored a measly 2 combined field goals. In fact, in three of their last four games, they only scored a field goal. But despite being hung out to dry, the defense has been stout, giving up just 20 combined points in their last two games against division studs Denver and KC. They even managed to pick off Alex Smith, who threw his first pick in 10 games.
Miami was off-key on MNF, though Lamar Miller had a good game with two TD runs and Jarvis Landry caught 11 balls. The defense was far worse, allowing a nearly-perfect game from Eli Manning and a huge performance to Odell Beckham, who added two TD receptions. The Chargers have had issues that surpass Miami perhaps, but at least San Diego has an excuse. Miami just didnt fire this season. And like San Diego, they were identified as a team that would be on the rise this season. The fact that they are 5-8 with an interim head coach now in charge speaks to how short those plans fell in 2015.
The Miami offense seems to be regressing. Monday was the first time they surpassed 20 points in the last 7 games and they still lost. Their last two wins were a two-point win over Baltimore and a 1-point win over Philly. So theyre able to hang in there with sub-.500 teams a bit and thats what theyre facing this week. The offense just doesnt thrive in any one area and are solidly below average in most categories.
The Miami defense isnt picking up the slack. Their 26th-ranked passing defense was exploited on Monday, as they were picked apart by Manning. Even the Giants dormant run-game had their moments against the 30th-ranked Dolphins run D in the league. And its not a good sign when your teams sack leader has missed the last 6 games. This defense has recovered only three fumbles all season.
These teams are playing out the string at this point. They both have lame-duck coaches in there with both teams almost certainly facing a major offseason revamp. At the same time, neither team has given up. Theyre at least trying, just struggling so mightily to get the breaks. I look for a little extra emotion from San Diego, as they hit the wire with their nose ahead.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 1.5 points.
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