The Los Angeles Chargers have their playoff hopes on the line when they host the Miami Dolphins
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Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
- Location: SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, CA
- Time: Sunday, December 11th at 8:20 p.m. ET
- Channel: NBC
- MONEYLINE: MIA (-170), LAC (+143)
- SPREAD: MIA -3.5
- OVER/UNDER: 54.5
The Chargers come into this game at 6-6 and have lost three of their last four games to put their playoff hopes in question. However, they finish the season with a string of winnable games against the Titans, Rams, Colts, and Broncos, so a win over the Dolphins on Sunday would be huge for them.
On the season, the Chargers’ once-dynamic passing attack has faltered due to injuries to Keenan Allen and Mike Williams; however, both veterans will be on the field this week, which is great news since the Dolphins’ pass defense is not that good. They allow a 68% completion rate to opposing QBs, which is 28th in the NFL, and also allow 233.5 yards per game, which ranks 21st.
While Justin Herbert hasn’t been overly efficient without his stud receivers, he has led the Chargers to 3,198 passing yards, which is 6th most in the NFL, and 20 passing touchdowns, which is 7th, so they will sling it and can certainly take advantage of this Dolphins secondary.
Miami has been solid but not great against the run, allowing the 16th-most yards per carry. They rank 21st in the NFL in expected points added by their run defense, but Los Angeles running back Austin Ekeler has not been effective on the ground behind this offensive line, rushing for 589 yards on 4.3 yards per carry in 12 games. He does, however, have 564 receiving tards and another five touchdowns, so he remains a key part of this Chargers offense.
On the other side, Miami’s five-game winning streak was stopped in a convincing loss to the Brock Purdy-led 49ers last week. Prior to that loss, Miami’s wins had come against the T.J. Watt-less Steelers, the Lions, Bears, Browns, and Texans. So one of the easiest stretches you can get.
However, we also know how dynamic this passing attack is. Miami is 1st in the NFL in yards gained per completion, 2nd in passing yards per game, and 4th in passing touchdowns.
Tua Tagovailoa has really benefited from the pairing of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, and Hill himself has been unstoppable of late raising his season totals to 1,379 receiving yards on 96 catches in just 12 games. Considering the Chargers will be without star safety Derwin James and cornerback Bryce Callahan, which is in addition to earlier injuries to defensive end Joey Bosa and cornerback J.C. Jackson. That could be a problem against Miami.
In addition to those secondary concerns, the Chargers have the worst rushing defense in the NFL and just gave up 144 yards on 26 carries to Josh Jacobs last week. The Dolphins are without both starting tackles (Terron Armstrong and Austin Jackson) and starting guard Liam Eichenberg, so it’s unclear how effective they will be at running the ball or protecting Tua, but one of these injury-depleted units will need to step up and help their team secure a big win.
Dolphins 34 Chargers 31
Austin Ekeler under 46.5 rushing yards
We mentioned that Ekeler hasn’t had much success on the ground this year, and I think Los Angeles will be trying to keep up with Miami’s passing attack, so I expect this to be a pass-heavy game. Pair that with the fact that Ekeler has gone over this total just four times this season and has more than 14 carries just once in his last seven games, and I think the under makes sense here.
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Tua Tagovailoa over 286.5 passing yards
We already mentioned the issues in the Los Angeles secondary. Plus, Tua has hit this total in five straight games, even last week’s loss. I like my chances here.
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Jaylen Waddle anytime touchdown scorer
I don’t usually do too many anytime touchdown scorer bets, but they’re fun and I expect there to be a lot of touchdowns here. Tyreek Hill makes sense as a pick, but the odds aren’t as enticing. With Waddle coming off of a down game last week due to injury, I expect Miami to try to get him going in big situations on Sunday night, so I like Waddle to find the end zone.