The Miami Dolphins will be hosting the San Diego Chargers this Sunday at 4:05 PM eastern time. This game has been switched from it’s original 1:00 PM start time. Both teams are sitting at a 4-5 record and are looking to inch closer to the 6th and final wild-card spot in the AFC, setting “must win” implications.
Both Miami and San Diego have a few things in common. First off, they both have beaten the Indianapolis Colts, whom possess the only win over the AFC favorite Denver Broncos. Secondly, and most importantly, both teams are the absolute definition of inconsistency.
Both teams opened the season up with quite a fast start…..and then it went downhill from there. Both Miami and San Diego will be looking to bounce back Sunday, setting the stage for an interesting match-up.
Here are some keys to victory for Miami:
1—- QB Ryan Tannehill needs to be on target with his weapons. We have seen it throw after throw after throw for weeks now, Ryan Tannehill simply cannot dial in his weapons consistently. When he can, Miami’s offense is amongst the best of them. When he cannot, Miami’s offense is arguably the worst in the league – we don’t count Jacksonville as a real football team. Miami’s young signal caller needs to be on point with every single weapon he has at his disposal. If he can do this, Miami could end up winning this game by a large margin. If he cannot, Miami may end up losing big time.
2—- The defense needs to actually tackle somebody for god’s sake. Miami spent a ton of money this past off-season revamping their linebacking corp swapping Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett out for the younger and faster duo of Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler. Many fans were excited. They no longer exist. Ellerbe and Wheeler seem like they have missed more tackles than they have actually made this season. Miami’s run defense has not been the same, nor has their pass defense. It’s been awful having to sit through three and a half hours of a Miami football game watching defenders bounce off ball carriers like a fricken ping pong ball.
3—- The San Diego Chargers rank 20th in rush defense allowing a little under 115 yards per game. While their pass defense allows 279 yards per game, good for 28th in the league, Miami must establish a run game. And that starts up front with this lackluster offensive line. This offensive line was absolutely owned Monday night by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive line. Miami could not establish a push up front which resulted in a putrid 2 yards rushing. TOTAL. FOR THE ENTIRE GAME. 2 FRICKEN YARDS! Miami’s big men up front need to get their shit together and play some hard nosed football and push San Diego’s young defensive line around. Oh and by the way, Miami will be without T Will Yeatman who recently suffered an ACL tear. Son of a b*tch.
4—- Rishard Matthews, its your time to shine big dog. Late in the preseason this year, some were projecting this guy to be off the roster. Monday night, Matthews broke out for 11 receptions 120 yards and 2 touchdowns. Matthews was Tannehill’s go-to guy for the majority of the night. Honestly, I have no problem with that. Matthews clearly has the best hands on the team and fights for the ball better than anyone Miami currently has at their disposal – in my opinion, both Keller and Gibson fight for the ball better than Matthews, but both are stuck on IR. Matthews needs to continue to etch himself into his new niche as the team’s slot receiver. That being said, Hartline and Wallace still need to come to play.
5—- Show us you belong. It’s time for the Miami Dolphins to, as they say, put up or shut up. Miami was once seen as a potential AFC East contender, then was seen as a sure play-off team, and is now seen as a clear play-off pretender. Miami can “up” their status with a big win over the San Diego Chargers this weekend, but a loss likely puts Miami out of the play-off chase and will send me reeling to talk about the draft rather than throw together these “keys to victory” articles. Miami has a chance to get themselves going in this one with a win over a potential play-off team in San Diego. A win here would likely give this team confidence heading into game against teams like Carolina, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New England and the Jets twice. A loss here and Miami likely has a chance at finishing the season with a putrid 5-11 or 6-10 record which looks awful considering this team started the season 3-0.
I’ll definitely be watching Sunday to see which Miami team decides to show up. The one which beat the Colts, Falcons, Bengals and Browns? Or the one that blew leads against, well, every team they have lost to except the Saints.
San Diego – 30 Miami – 23
Sorry, but I just can’t see a scenario in which this team beats San Diego. Miami’s defense is a mess right now and cannot generate a pass rush. Miami’s offense is even worse. They cannot generate a running game and cannot drive the field when they need a fricken field goal to tie a winless team. Hell the special teams unit was underwhelming Monday night as well. I hope they prove me wrong in this one, but I just can’t see it.