Matchup Analysis: Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Chargers

Vegas Prediction

Vegas says: Dolphins 22, Chargers 25

FBG Projections

TeamRushYardsTDCompAttPass YdTDINT

Miami Dolphins Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Dolphins Offense0.0 (+0.0) (31)0 (+0) (32)0 (+0) (32)
Chargers Defense24.0 (+3.8) (24)140 (+47) (28)181 (-39) (14)

Los Angeles Chargers Offense: overview

Points (vs AVG) (rank)Rush Yards (vs AVG) (rank)Pass Yards (vs AVG) (rank)
Chargers Offense21.0 (+0.8) (14)64 (-28) (20)185 (-35) (18)
Dolphins Defense0.0 (+0.0) (2)0 (+0) (2)0 (+0) (2)

Dolphins Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Chargers defense.

Jay Ajayi broke out in a big way in 2016, of course, averaging 105.0 rushing yards over his 11 starts. But it’s worth noting just how sporadic his excellence was. A whopping 49.1% of his rushing yardage came across his three 200-yard games, and he failed to top 4.0 yards per rush in 6 of his 15 contests. The Miami offensive line was extremely inconsistent and again looks a bit overmatched, and it’s worth noting that Laremy Tunsil, who excelled at guard last season, will kick outside to left tackle in 2017. That would again leave the line undermanned on the interior. Still, we can’t merely turn up our noses at Ajayi’s 2016 dynamism, and while the Chargers run defense is improving, it may be wise not to overthink this matchup. He’s probably locked into a floor around 65-70 ground yards, which would likely help make for a solid (if low-end) RB1 performance.

The Chargers run defense is generally stout: in 2016 they allowed the league’s seventh-lowest yard-per-rush average, and they held 9 of their 16 opponents under 100 yards. But it fell apart down the stretch and was simply caved in by six of its final seven, and it was ground down by C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles in the second half of Week 1. The absence of Denzel Perryman was felt in the opener, and the team will work to adjust without him for the better part of the season. Also troubling here is the fact that this unit can’t seem to keep opposing backs out of the end zone. Dating back to the start of last year, they’ve allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns (1.24 a game) in the league. Much of that stems from their goal-line defense, which has given up touchdowns from inside the 5-yard line at a high rate (54.8%, third-worst). The Dolphins don’t project to spend a ton of time at the Chargers’ goal line Sunday, but whenever they do, we have to like Jay Ajayi’s chances of scoring.

Dolphins Passing offense

Tough matchup vs. the Chargers defense.

With Jay Cutler under center, the Dolphins can expect plenty of downfield football – Cutler isn’t a huge fan of checking down or throwing quick slants. In other words, he’s the polar opposite of Ryan Tannehill, who was almost loath to throw downfield. As a result, we should see a noticeably different passing game under Cutler, one in which he attempts to force the offense’s issue with splash plays. He showed a lot of interest in DeVante Parker over the preseason, so it’s safe to expect the two will look to connect in Week 2 – and that slot extraordinaire Jarvis Landry’s role is up in the air. With such a shift at quarterback, it’s hard to tell just how effective they’ll be off the bat. But they’re built to push the football, so we can expect plenty of fireworks – or, at the very least, attempts at fireworks.

The Chargers boast two shutdown cornerbacks in Casey Hayward and Jason Verrett who offer both blanket coverage ability and jump-the-route dynamism. They did a great job against Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in Week 1; the Broncos duo combined for just 8 receptions and 93 yards on 14 targets. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram providing a consistent pass rush, there’s room for growth into one of the NFL’s best pass defenses. They led the league in interceptions last season, and they’ve now held 6 of their last 8 opponents under 250 passing yards. Jay Cutler’s gunslinger style plays right into what the Chargers do.

Chargers Rushing offense

Good matchup vs. the Dolphins defense.

Melvin Gordon’s Week 1 kicked off beautifully, with 21- and 5-yard runs off the left side of the line, where the team looks strong behind Russell Okung and Matt Slauson. But he stalled soon after, failing to generate anything of note up the middle. The Chargers’ interior line would be in better shape had second-round guard Forrest Lamp not torn his ACL during camp. As it stands, Gordon will need better line play to reach his true heights, but he’s a volume dominator who flashes plenty of dynamism. Dating back to the start of 2016, he’s forced missed tackles at a higher rate than Ezekiel Elliott and created more breakaway runs than David Johnson.

The Chargers run unit isn’t a particularly consistent group, but it could find easy sledding in Week 2. Last year’s Dolphins were thoroughly gashed by the run – 14 of their 17 opponents topped 100 ground yards (including 7 that topped 160), and only the 49ers gave up a higher per-rush average. They did clamp down nicely near the goal line, allowing just 4 of their opponents’ 17 rushes from inside the 5 to score. But overall, this was a unit to target weekly, and it’s hard to find an area that improves much entering 2017. Star safety Reshad Jones returns to action, which is nice, but likely too little to provide a massive boost. They’ll be forced to lean heavily upon 31-year-old Lawrence Timmons, who’s slowed noticeably over the years, on running downs.

Chargers Passing offense

Neutral matchup vs. the Dolphins defense.

Philip Rivers and the Chargers passing game have declined of late, and it may not be a fluke. Dating back to the start of 2016, they sit 17th in the NFL in adjusted yards per attempt, a marked dip from Rivers’ typical standing. Some of that stems from Keenan Allen’s 15-game absence, of course, and they’re a better passing game with him on the field. But Rivers’ age and the shoddy state of his offensive line could be harbingers of an extended drop-off. Allen dominates volume, but doesn’t inject a lot of explosiveness into the offense. He’s settling in as a trusted yet limited target from the slot – exceptionally valuable to the Chargers, but capped in eruptive upside. Their best shot at downfield dynamism probably lies in Tyrell Williams, who was truly great in his first NFL action in 2016. Williams averaged a studly 8.9 yards per target and tied for sixth league-wide in receptions of 20+ yards, catching 7 touchdowns along the way. He’s talented enough to provide dimension to the offense, if only a complementary role, but the Chargers look like only a slightly above-average passing offense right now.

The Dolphins secondary is becoming a later-stage home for formerly elite cornerbacks. Byron Maxwell, once the prize of the 2015 NFL free agency class, will battle his 2014 counterpart, Alterraun Verner, for one of the starting spots. Maxwell was quite solid in his Dolphins debut, and youngster Xavien Howard posted a strong half-season on the other side, but this was still a shaky unit last year on the whole. They were picked apart down the stretch, allowing big passing days to the mediocre offenses of San Francisco, Baltimore, and Buffalo. Reshad Jones’ return will definitely help their outlook, but they’ll likely struggle sporadically. Their tight end defense is definitely one to target – especially with Timmons and Maualuga pressed into hefty roles. Last season they allowed 60.3 yards per game and 10 touchdowns to the position, so the Chargers duo of Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates could feast.

Chargers vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)27 (+8.0)27 (+8.0)27 (+8.8)26 (+7.9)
1Trevor Siemian69172821921619125.925.923.723.7

Jay Cutler (FanDuel: $6900, DraftKings: $5400)

2PROJ-Dodds23342441.41290.118.318.318.3 (H=44)18.3 (H=56)
2PROJ-Tremblay19302201.31270.116.516.516.5 (H=37)16.5 (H=47)
2PROJ-Bloom22332131.71.1260.117.617.617.6 (H=41)17.6 (H=53)

Chargers vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)10 (-4.7)4 (-9.4)4 (-8.9)4 (-10.9)
1C.J. Anderson482081031708.
1Jamaal Charles211040010004.

Jay Ajayi (FanDuel: $7900, DraftKings: $6400)

2PROJ-Dodds18870.52160.113.915.914.9 (H=27)15.9 (H=37)
2PROJ-Tremblay18810.4213011.813.812.8 (H=20)13.8 (H=29)
2PROJ-Bloom20870.63210.1151816.5 (H=32)18.0 (H=46)

Damien Williams (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $3800)

2PROJ-Dodds280.12120. (H=5)5.2 (H=9)
2PROJ-Tremblay280.1190. (H=3)3.9 (H=5)
2PROJ-Bloom130.1250.1243.0 (H=2)4.0 (H=5)

Kenyan Drake (FanDuel: $4900, DraftKings: $4000)

2PROJ-Dodds2100.11602.23.22.7 (H=2)3.2 (H=3)
2PROJ-Tremblay290.11702.23.22.7 (H=2)3.2 (H=3)
2PROJ-Bloom31102140. (H=4)5.1 (H=8)

Chargers vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+4.7)21 (+4.4)22 (+4.7)21 (+3.9)
1Bennie Fowler384321200014.117.115.617.1
1Demaryius Thomas60856700006.711.79.211.7

DeVante Parker (FanDuel: $6400, DraftKings: $5400)

2PROJ-Dodds5610.40008.513.511.0 (H=19)13.5 (H=33)
2PROJ-Tremblay5640.30008.213.210.7 (H=18)13.2 (H=32)
2PROJ-Bloom4610.50009.113.111.1 (H=20)13.1 (H=31)

Jarvis Landry (FanDuel: $6500, DraftKings: $5500)

2PROJ-Dodds5600.20007.212.29.7 (H=15)12.2 (H=27)
2PROJ-Tremblay5580.30007.612.610.1 (H=16)12.6 (H=29)
2PROJ-Bloom5480.31707.312.39.8 (H=16)12.3 (H=28)

Kenny Stills (FanDuel: $5400, DraftKings: $3900)

2PROJ-Dodds3370.20004.97.96.4 (H=9)7.9 (H=18)
2PROJ-Tremblay2300.30004.86.85.8 (H=7)6.8 (H=14)
2PROJ-Bloom3410.30005.98.97.4 (H=11)8.9 (H=22)

Chargers vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)23 (+3.3)23 (+4.0)23 (+3.6)23 (+3.9)
1Virgil Green45114404.

Julius Thomas (FanDuel: $5000, DraftKings: $2800)

2PROJ-Dodds3330. (H=10)8.1 (H=26)
2PROJ-Tremblay3280. (H=10)8.2 (H=27)
2PROJ-Bloom3230. (H=7)7.1 (H=21)

Anthony Fasano (FanDuel: $4500, DraftKings: $2500)

2PROJ-Dodds190. (H=1)2.5 (H=3)
2PROJ-Tremblay1110. (H=1)2.7 (H=4)
2PROJ-Bloom000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Chargers vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)15T (-1.0)15T (-1.0)12T (-2.0) (+0.0)
1Brandon McManus1233666.00.0

Cody Parkey (FanDuel: $4600, DraftKings: $--)

2PROJ-Dodds1. (H=14)7.6
2PROJ-Tremblay1.622. (H=15)8.0

Chargers vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG)8T (-4.4)8T (-4.4)15T (-3.6)15T (-3.6)
1Denver Broncos2124911000335.05.0

Miami Dolphins (FanDuel: $4400, DraftKings: $2600)

2PROJ-Dodds24.903862.210.600. (H=14)7.3 (H=24)
2PROJ-Tremblay24.753622.51.20.600. (H=17)8.3 (H=30)

Dolphins vs QB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG) (-17.8) (-17.8) (-14.9) (-15.8)

Philip Rivers (FanDuel: $7000, DraftKings: $5800)

1@ DEN5922331923100020.620.618.718.7
2PROJ-Dodds24372801.8113020.520.520.5 (H=53)20.5 (H=64)
2PROJ-Tremblay243826421.2000202020.0 (H=51)20.0 (H=61)
2PROJ-Bloom23342531.9100019.219.219.2 (H=47)19.2 (H=57)

Dolphins vs RB

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG) (-17.5) (-23.2) (-20.2) (-23.7)

Melvin Gordon (FanDuel: $7600, DraftKings: $7000)

1@ DEN45185406525113.918.916.418.9
2PROJ-Dodds19810.63260.114.917.916.4 (H=33)17.9 (H=42)
2PROJ-Tremblay18810.55360.215.920.918.4 (H=40)20.9 (H=55)
2PROJ-Bloom20850.54240. (H=35)19.1 (H=47)

Branden Oliver (FanDuel: $5100, DraftKings: $4000)

1@ DEN1141001000111.01.0
2PROJ-Dodds5170.111003.34.33.8 (H=3)4.3 (H=6)
2PROJ-Tremblay4170.11803.14.13.6 (H=3)4.1 (H=5)
2PROJ-Bloom41200001.21.21.2 (H=0)1.2 (H=0)

Dolphins vs WR

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG) (-18.7) (-30.0) (-24.2) (-30.5)

Keenan Allen (FanDuel: $7100, DraftKings: $5800)

1@ DEN531053510009.514.512.014.5
2PROJ-Dodds5650.40008.913.911.4 (H=19)13.9 (H=32)
2PROJ-Tremblay5590.50008.913.911.4 (H=19)13.9 (H=32)
2PROJ-Bloom6710.500010.116.113.1 (H=24)16.1 (H=42)

Tyrell Williams (FanDuel: $6300, DraftKings: $4700)

1@ DEN55755400005.410.47.910.4
2PROJ-Dodds4560.30007.411.49.4 (H=15)11.4 (H=28)
2PROJ-Tremblay4510.30006.910.98.9 (H=13)10.9 (H=26)
2PROJ-Bloom4510.40007.511.59.5 (H=15)11.5 (H=29)

Travis Benjamin (FanDuel: $5500, DraftKings: $3500)

1@ DEN394343100010.313.311.813.3
2PROJ-Dodds3330.20004.57.56.0 (H=8)7.5 (H=18)
2PROJ-Tremblay3410.30005.98.97.4 (H=11)8.9 (H=25)
2PROJ-Bloom4560.30007.411.49.4 (H=17)11.4 (H=38)

Dontrelle Inman (FanDuel: $4700, DraftKings: $3400)

2PROJ-Dodds1150.10002.13.12.6 (H=2)3.1 (H=4)
2PROJ-Tremblay1140.1000232.5 (H=2)3.0 (H=3)
2PROJ-Bloom000000000.0 (H=0)0.0 (H=0)

Dolphins vs TE

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG) (-6.5) (-10.8) (-8.7) (-10.9)

Hunter Henry (FanDuel: $5700, DraftKings: $3600)

1@ DEN230000000.00.0
2PROJ-Dodds3360.4697.5 (H=11)9.0 (H=24)
2PROJ-Tremblay2260. (H=5)5.8 (H=11)
2PROJ-Bloom2250. (H=5)5.7 (H=11)

Antonio Gates (FanDuel: $5300, DraftKings: $3000)

1@ DEN39321701.
2PROJ-Dodds3290. (H=8)7.7 (H=22)
2PROJ-Tremblay3290. (H=8)7.7 (H=22)
2PROJ-Bloom3260. (H=8)7.4 (H=21)

Dolphins vs PK

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG) (-7.0) (-7.0) (-8.0) (+0.0)

Younghoe Koo (FanDuel: $--, DraftKings: $--)

1@ DEN0133333.00.0

Dolphins vs TD

Season FPPG allowed rank (vs AVG) (-7.4) (-7.4) (-8.6) (-8.6)

Los Angeles Chargers (FanDuel: $4300, DraftKings: $2800)

1@ DEN24.0032141100888.08.0
2PROJ-Dodds20.503322.310.700. (H=22)9.3 (H=33)
2PROJ-Tremblay21.25325210.700.5999.0 (H=20)9.0 (H=32)