Los Angeles Chargers vs. Miami Dolphins
Line: Miami -3.5
Where: SoFi Stadium Stadium, Inglewood, California
When: Sunday, 12/11 at 8:20 p.m. ET
The Dolphins and Chargers will meet for a critical AFC showdown with potential playoff ramifications on Sunday night at SoFi Stadium.
Miami had its five-game winning streak snapped in a 33-17 loss to San Francisco last week, but it is still in the current playoff picture at 8-4. Los Angeles (6-6) is on the outside looking in after losing three of its last four games, including a 27-20 setback against the Raiders in Week 13.
Oddsmakers opened Miami as a 3-point favorite in this matchup before the early betting action moved the Dolphins to -3.5. The total opened at 51.5, which is where it remained as of Thursday evening.
However, by early Sunday, most books had the tally at 54.5 or 55 points. These teams have gone ‘under’ the total in 15 of their last 17 head-to-head games.
Miami has been one of the streakiest teams in the NFL so far this season, winning three straight games to open the campaign before losing its next three in a row. The Dolphins responded by putting together a five-game winning streak, but they had that hot stretch snapped in a 33-17 loss in San Francisco last week.
Quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 18 of 33 passes for 295 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in that game, while also losing a fumble that was returned for a touchdown. He threw a 75-yard touchdown on the first play of the game before struggling to do much the rest of the outing—he had only thrown three interceptions all season coming into that contest.
“Guys were a little off, just in general collectively,” Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel said. “But I know one thing: It wasn’t because of preparation, lack of detail. It was one of those things that you have to go through.”
Miami is still a heavy -650 favorite to make the playoffs at DraftKings, so the Dolphins can essentially lock up a spot with a win on Sunday night. They have gone 0-3 straight up and against the spread as underdogs this year, but they are 6-1 SU (4-3 ATS) as favorites.
Tagovailoa leads the NFL’s fourth-ranked offense that is averaging 380.2 yards per game. Wide receiver Tyreek Hill has been his top target, catching 96 passes for 1,379 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle has 57 catches for 972 yards, while running back Raheem Mostert is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
They will be facing a Los Angeles defense that is No. 26, allowing 371.7 yards per game. The Chargers were sitting at 5-3 in early November, but they have now fallen to 6-6 after losing three of their last four games.
Their most recent setback came in a 27-20 loss to Las Vegas last week, as Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr connected with wide receiver Davante Adams on a pair of late scoring plays. Los Angeles signal caller Justin Herbert finished 28 of 47 for 335 yards and one touchdown.
The Chargers have relied on an offense that is No. 13, averaging 351.2 yards per game. Herbert has completed 66.7% of his passes for 3,339 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Running back Austin Ekeler has 589 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, while also catching 85 passes for 564 yards and five scores.
Los Angeles is still in a decent position as far as a playoff spot is concerned, priced at +150 to make the field. The Chargers will close the regular season with games against the Titans, Colts, Rams and Broncos, which are all beatable teams.
Miami has only covered the spread three times in its last nine games, but it has gone 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games against the Chargers. Los Angeles has failed to cover in five straight games against AFC East teams and is winless in its last five games as an underdog.
The pick: Los Angeles +3.5
Miami picked up some nice early season wins over the Ravens and Bills, but I am still not sold on the Dolphins as a whole. Their recent five-game winning streak came against five teams that are all below the .500 mark, and they struggled to hold up when returning to quality competition last week. Los Angeles is basically in a must-win position on Sunday night, as its playoff hopes are going to be drastically moved one way or another. The Chargers are built to win shootouts, which is exactly what this game is shaping up to be. I expect it to come down to the final drive of the game, creating value on the home underdogs getting 3.5 points.