Miami Dolphins (4-4 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (4-5 SU, 6-3 ATS)
Week 10 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, November 13, 2016 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: MIA +3.5/SD -3.5
Over/Under Total: 48
The Miami Dolphins come to Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday to face the San Diego Chargers in a pivotal week ten matchup. Both teams have overcome a lot this season to be in a position to still make a move. The Dolphins have won three in a row, as they came off the bye on Sunday to score a 27-23 win over the Jets at home to push their record to the .500 mark. That's quite an accomplishment considering how bad they looked in the first month-plus of the season, when their only win was in overtime to the winless Browns. The Chargers have now won 3 of 4, following Sunday's 43-35 win over the Titans at home. Can San Diego get to 5-5 this week with another big performance at home?
Both the Chargers and Dolphins have gotten a big assist from emerging second-year running backs. In Miami's case, it's Jay Ajayi. After consecutive 200+ yard rushing performances, he was key against the Jets with 111 yards and a TD score, in addition to three catches. It's no coincidence that Miami's spurt coincided with Ajayi's rise. Through the air, Ryan Tannehill was only at 149 yards on Sunday in the win against the Jets. Still, he hasn't thrown a pick in the last three games, key to Miami's success. And the growth of Ajayi has given this offense infinitely more balance. When Tannehill takes to the air, he has guys like Jarvis Landry to rely on and Dominique Jones scored his first NFL touchdown on Sunday, but the rush is what keeps this offense relevant.
Through the first five games of the season, Ajayi barely had 100 yards on the ground. His 529 yards in the last three games has been most unexpected, but he's suddenly become the major contributor in this offense. At the same time, let's see if he can do it away from Hard Rock Stadium. With four straight home games and a bye week, this is Miami's first road game since September 29.
The Dolphins' defense did give up a decent game to Matt Forte on Sunday, but were at least better than they had been recently with one of the league's worst defenses against the run. They have given up some pretty big totals to opposing running backs this season and with San Diego's Melvin Gordon hitting his stride in a big way that could be a problem this week. They're halfway decent against the pass and have allowed an average of just over 22 points a game. They got two interceptions on Sunday after picking off just three balls all season. They struggle in making big plays to help the offense, which can use all the assistance they can get.
Conversely, the San Diego defense was a major factor in the win on Sunday. Granted, they did allow 35 points to a road Tennessee bunch. They still were able to keep DeMarco Murray from doing much on the afternoon. And the turnovers the Chargers got were key, as defensive pressure led to two Mariota interceptions and a fumble, which led to Chargers scores, with a pick-six and a fumble recovery for touchdows. The return of Brandon Flowers just adds to the San Diego playmaking ability on defense. Casey Hayward picked off his 5th pass of the season on Sunday. Too see the Chargers' defense play so well in the face of injuries was really impressive. Their entire linebacking corps is sidelined at this point, as they're digging deep into the barrel on that front. Joey Bosa got banged up on Sunday. Safety Jahleel Addae is still working his way back. They've lost Jason Verrett and Manti Te'o for the season already. Corner Craig Mager is dealing with concussion issues. And still, they're making good things happen.
The San Diego offense has also had to overcome a bunch of injuries. Their playmaking ability has taken major hits this season, as reserve receivers have been thrust into key roles. So far, it hasn't worked out so badly, with Philip Rivers commandeering the San Diego vessel through stormy waters this season with a cool veteran's touch. A line that has been battered at times by injury saw G Orlando Franklin put into concussion protocol on Sunday. And still, the offense is the third highest-scoring group in the league. It's really quite remarkable, though some better early-season late-game play would have the Chargers in better shape in a heavy-duty 2016 AFC West division.
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Key to the Chargers' success is the growth of Melvin Gordon. On Sunday, he was electric with 196 yards on the ground with a TD and 65 yards receiving, including a key late-game 35 catch-and-run. This season, Gordon seems to realize he can do this and is running with gusto. He's no longer intimidated and is running with great speed and is not afraid of contact. We see aging tight end-extraordinaire Antonio Gates getting back into the swing of things lately, as he led the Chargers in receiving on Sunday. Tyrell Williams has been great in an enhanced role and he hauled in a TD grab on Sunday. Against Tennessee, the Chargers had 31 first downs. Four times in the last six games, they've scored at least 31 points.
Miami is on a nice little roll, while the Chargers have gotten their season at least partially back on the right track with wins in three of their last four games. And let's not forget, the Chargers could easily be 6-2 if not for multiple late-game collapses that were of mammoth proportions. The one thing that is changing is the location of Miami's games, Not that their rise in the past several weeks is a mirage, but let's see how well this translates against on the road against a dangerous opponent like San Diego. I see the Chargers getting it done.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the San Diego Chargers minus 3.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Miami vs. San Diego game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!