Chargers vs. Dolphins: Who to Watch

Three players to keep an eye on Sunday at The Q

Rivers against Titans

Just in case you all were unaware, the Chargers need to beat the Dolphins on Sunday at Qualcomm Stadium to get to .500 and keep their season alive. If the Bolts fall to 4-6 they can kiss the playoffs good-bye.

Expecting any NFL team to win six straight games is simply asking too much. Realistically, San Diego has one more game to give away and still hope to be in the post-season picture. If they do it this early you can start throwing dirt on 2016’s casket.

The Bolts are 4.0 point favorites against the Miami team that has won three straight games and has one of the better pass rushes in the National Football League. However, the Dolphins are 30th in the league against the run, something the Bolts might want to try and exploit with the red hot Melvin Gordon.

The Phins offense has also shown an ability to run the ball behind Jay Ajayi and his 6.0 yard-per-carry average but their passing game behind Ryan Tannehill, who has yet to develop in to the difference-maker Miami envisioned, still leaves a lot to be desired. So where will this game be won?

Let’s take a look in our three players to watch:

Matt Slauson, C

Gordon is too easy to name so instead we’ll go with the big guy in the middle. Slauson’s presence has as much to do with the Bolts recent running rampage (Melvin has 307 yards on the ground the last two games) as the man with the ball in his hands. Slauson received a lot of credit for the San Diego offensive line run-blocking against the Titans, who had the 5th-ranked rushing defense in the NFL before being put in the meat grinder last week. If he can lead the way again we could see another mammoth afternoon from Gordon and the Bolts offense.

Casey Hayward, CB

If Slauson was not the best free agent signing in the entire NFL this past off-season then Hayward was. The defensive back has five interceptions, tying him with Chiefs corner Marcus Peters for the league lead. Tannehill has thrown eight touchdowns and seven interceptions this year. He has a propensity for letting a few balls get away from him so Hayward could end up with another splash play in the passing game but it’s his run support that will be paramount on Sunday. Hayward has proven to be one of the NFL’s better DB’s against the run and with Ajayi a threat to rip off a big gain at any time Casey’s ability to tackle will be a huge help.

Isaiah Burse, KR

The Chargers have not had a kick or punt returned for a touchdown since the final game of the Norv Tuner era. Micheal Spurlock took the opening kickoff back for a score in the 2012 season finale, the final game of Turner’s head coaching career. After that the Bolts have tried a bunch of different returners and nobody has really made an impact. Big returns are the kinds of plays that can turn a game in a heartbeat and you have to figure they’re due for one. Burse has the ability to break a big return so why not do it this weekend?

Derek’s Prediction

Although he has made a few plays during their 3-game winning streak I do not trust Tannehill to win a game for the Dolphins. This one figures to be like most NFL games, a close affair to the end. Although I still don’t trust Mike McCoy to make the right call in those situations his players are overcoming the bad choices. Expect that to happen again Sunday.

Final Score: Chargers 30, Dolphins 24

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