1By Abraham Gutierrez
After a lackluster win over the Jaguars, the Miami Dolphins will have to find their “A” game quickly as one of the best teams in the National Football Conference, San Diego Chargers invade Sun Life Stadium looking to end the Fins win streak. Opening kickoff for this AFC East vs. AFC West clash is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and it will be broadcast live on CBS Sports (CBS Miami-4).
With a record of 4-3, Miami starts Week 9 of the 2014 NFL season in third place in the division, while San Diego’s 5-3 mark is good enough for second place in the out West. Both of these teams are 3-2-0 in their last 5 ballgames, but their most recent efforts have had contrasting results.
Joe Philbin’s Dolphins are riding a two-game win streak and have a home record of 1-2-0 on the year, along with a 3-2-0 mark against intraconference foes. Meanwhile, Mike McCoy’s Bolts have lost two straight, are 2-2-0 away from Qualcomm Stadium, and have a record of 4-2-0 versus fellow AFC rivals.
Chargers on Offense
With offensive coordinator Frank Reich at the helm, San Diego ranks 10th in the league in points per game (25.6) and 15th total yards per contest (353.2). It’s also no secret that their strengths lie in their ability to air out the football, as veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is off to one of the best starts of his career.
The fiery signal-caller out of North Carolina State has connected on 68 percent of his passes this season (185-for-271) for 2,213 yards, 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions for a cool quarterback rating of 109.9.
The Bolts’ passing game ranks eighth in the National Football League with 267.5 yards per game. Rivers’ favorite targets include: Antonio Gates (32 receptions, 417 yards, 9 TDs), Eddie Royal (326 receptions 374 yards, 5 TDs), Malcom Floyd (24 receptions, 470 yards, 3 TDs) and Keenan Allen (43 receptions, 427 yards, TD).
The offense’s Achilles Heel can be found on the ground, where they rank a whopping 30th place in the league with 85.8 yards per game. The Chargers’ leading rushers are: Branden Oliver (85 carries, 352 yards, 4.1 average, 2 TDs), Donald Brown (59 carries, 126 yards, 2.1 average) and Ryan Mathews (23 carries, 71 yards, TD).
Chargers on Defense
The Chargers defensive coordinator is John Pagano, and his defensive unit is one of the finest in all of the NFL. Through eight games, San Diego’s “D” ranks fourth in the league in points per game (18.6), 11th in total yards (330.0), seventh against the pass (219.1) and 15th at defending the run (110.9).
Their leading tacklers are: Eric Weddle (58 combined, 45 total, 13 assist, fumble), Donald Butler (49 combined, 33 assist, 16 assist, sack), Shareece Wright (35 combined, 31 total, 4 assist) and Marcus Gilchrist (30 combined, 24 total, 6 assist, sack). And while their sacks leader, Corey Liuget (27 combined, 21 total, 6 assist, 2.5 sacks, fumble), has only gotten to opposing quarterbacks two-and-a-half times, the Chargers have registered 15 sacks as a unit in the 2014 NFL season.
Chargers vs. Dolphins Head-to-Head
This week’s meeting will mark the 30th time these teams have crossed paths, in what has been a very highly contested rivalry. The Miami Dolphins lead the overall series 15-14-0, outscoring the San Diego Chargers to the tune of 669 to 650.
Their last meeting dates back to the 2013 NFL season, when they collided at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Miami prevailed at home by a final score of 20-16, snapping a two-game losing skid.
San Diego vs. Miami NFL Week 9 Odds
According to NFL Week 9 point spreads, this should be yet another highly contested affair, as the Dolphins are listed as one-point favorites over the visiting Chargers and the OVER/UNDER is set at a combined total of 44½ points.
For more Dolphins news and updates, visit Dolphins Central.
Abe Gutierrez is a criminal justice admin whose love for sports led him to become a writer and editor. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com and its partners. His work can be found on Examiner.com. .