Dolphins (8-4) at Chargers (6-6), Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC, SoFi Stadium
Latest line: Dolphins are favored by 3 points.
Dave Hyde, Sports Columnist (Season record: 9-3): Dolphins 33, Chargers 20
This is a good game for the Dolphins to get back to their identity after their disappointing loss to San Francisco. The Chargers have the 30th-ranked defense and injuries across their offense. This three-game road trip has a donut-sized hole in the middle and the Dolphins have shown they take care of struggling teams.
Chris Perkins, Dolphins Columnist (Season record: 7-5): Dolphins 24, Chargers 21
This is a big game. The Dolphins aren’t just playing for a playoff berth, they’re fighting for the AFC East title and possibly the No. 1 seed, so every victory is crucial, especially against lower-tier teams such as the 6-6 Chargers. The Dolphins’ offense has struggled against good defenses, but the Chargers rank near the bottom in several defensive categories. They are 29th in rushing defense, allowing 151.6 yards per game.
David Furones, Dolphins Writer (Season record: 10-2): Dolphins 31, Chargers 27
Tua Tagovailoa, whose, ankle should be fine, knows he wasn’t good against the 49ers and will be determined to correct his misfires for a bounce-back effort against a bad defense. Maybe the run game can also get back on track against the Chargers’ run defense that is worst in yards per attempt. The Dolphins’ defense has struggled on the road, but Tagovailoa should outperform Justin Herbert in what may amount to a shootout in prime time.
Kathy Laughlin, Sports Editor (Season record: 10-2): Dolphins 24, Chargers 20
On paper, this should not be in question: The 8-4 Dolphins against the 6-6 Chargers. However, the Dolphins’ confidence was shaken in last week’s loss to the 49ers, especially Tua Tagovailoa’s confidence. Speaking of the quarterback, what about the ankle injury that kept him from finishing the game? And Miami is on the road. And the Chargers also have an excellent quarterback, Justin Herbet, who can make things happen. A couple great Herbert throws, and this could slip away. The Dolphins should be able to push past, though.
Keven Lerner, Assistant Sports Editor (Season record: 8-4): Dolphins 23, Chargers 20
The Dolphins look to bolster their playoff chances, while the Chargers hope to stay alive in the AFC Wild Card race. All eyes will be on quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, the No. 5 and No. 6 picks, respectively, in the 2020 NFL draft. Simply put, Tagovailoa has more talent around him. While Miami struggled against San Francisco’s top-ranked defense, the Chargers pose no such problem. Los Angeles is known for giving up explosive plays, allowing an NFL-high 13 touchdowns of 20 yards or more.
Steve Svekis, Assistant Sports Editor (Season record: 9-3): Dolphins 20, Chargers 19
The Chargers have been racked with injuries. Last week, they were without four players who made the 2021 Pro Bowl (DE Joey Bosa, CB JC Jackson, C Corey Linsley and LT Rashawn Slater). All but Linsley are on injured reserve. The Dolphins’ pass rush is one aspect (along with team MVP Tyreek Hill) that maintained its high level while going up in weight class against the 49ers, and I expect that to be the difference in this one. Justin Herbert is a top-5 quarterback, but on this tattered team, he looks a lot like 1986-89 Dan Marino. Those years, Miami went 29-31 in non-strike games, but would have been fortunate to grab even a dozen victories without Marino.