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Friday, November 15, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 11: Chargers vs Dolphins

San Diego Chargers vs Miami Dolphins: SD -1 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

Why is this line not -3 at the least? The Chargers are the better team, the Dolphins home field advantage isn't worth as much as most NFL teams, and Miami didn't respond very well to all the controversy surrounding the organization. San Diego also got a break when the game was moved to 4PM EST. The whole "west team playing out east" is overrated to begin with, but the time change certainly can't hurt.

A week ago this game was a 'pick em' on the LVH look-ahead line. It reopened at -1 after Week 10 action and it's bounced around in this area ever since. Most sportsbooks have it between -1.5 and -2, but sharper books like Pinny and 5Dimes are keeping it out of the teaser window, which gives us a bit of extra value on the Chargers.

Keep an eye on

Against the Bucs, the Dolphins only managed two rushing yards. That's amazing. They'll be thankful that they get to face the Chargers defense though. They've been god awful trying to stop the run all season. ProFootballFocus has Liuget and Reyes as two of the worst run stopping defenders in the NFL at their positions. Jarret Johnson has been strong in this area, but he hasn't had much support around him and he's questionable to play.

But for Miami to win this game, they'll have to win the battle in the air on both sides of the ball. There might be too much pressure on the young Tannehill in this situation. With all the negative mojo going on, the QB is the guy who should step up and lead the team out of trouble. He showed some glimpes last week, but it wasn't nearly enough.

The Chargers give up a ton of passing yards, but surprisingly they are a pretty solid unit when push comes to shove. Their third down and red zone ranking are above average. They might not pass the eye test when we watch them, but they do have some fight in them during the bigger moments.  The Dolphins offense haven't been bad in these areas, but they also have a problem that should tilt things in San Diego's favor ... blocking.

San Diego don't have the personnel to exploit Miami's front, but they haven't been terrible in the sack department either. The Dolphins blocking is just horrendous, so this is a prime opportunity for San Diego's D to build some confidence.

On the other side, San Diego's offense hasn't been as good since coming out of the bye, but all the pieces are still in place. Keenan Allen vs Brent Grimes should be a good matchup, but look for the Chargers to target other areas of the field.

Miami still can't stop the run and they are vulnerable in the middle of the field. All the usual suspects will be involved in moving the chains - Mathews, Woodheed, and Gates are nice options to exploit the underneath areas.

Bottom Line

As we stand now, the Dolphins defense isn't as good as they looked in September, and the same goes for their offense. The OL is still a monster problem and Tannehill is still struggling to take that next step.

Rivers and company should be able to put up enough points for the win and cover. Their defense is a liability, but Miami is their own worst enemy of late.

NFL Pick: SD -1.
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