By Abraham Gutierrez
After a heartbreaking loss to the New York Giants Monday night, the (5-8) Miami Dolphins will try and get back in the win column when they travel to America’s Finest City for a Week 15 clash with the San Diego Chargers. Qualcomm Stadium will be the site for this AFC East vs. AFC West encounter, which is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 4:25 p.m. ET.
Sunday’s showdown marks the 31st time that the Fins and Bolts have met on the gridiron. Miami comes into this matchup leading the overall series 16-14-0 and riding a two-game win streak. The last time they met dates back to Nov. 2 of last year when the Dolphins pitched a shutout, as they came away with a 37-0 victory.
San Diego Chargers 2015 NFL Season
With three games remaining in the regular season and with both teams eliminated from playoff contention, there’s nothing left to play for but pride. The Chargers enter Week 15 of the 2015 NFL season with a 3-10 record on the year, which is good enough for last place in the AFC West.
Things haven’t exactly gone as planned for third-year head coach Mike McCoy, as the Bolts enter Week 15 losers of two straight games, and have dropped four of their last five decisions. This team is also 2-5 at home, 1-5 on the road and winless at 0-4 versus intradivisional opponents.
Chargers On Offense
The Chargers’ attack is run by offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who’s in his second year at the helm. While their season record does them no justice, this unit is actually more than capable of dominating opposing defenses in two of the four major statistical categories used to measure the quality of an NFL team.
With cunder center, it should come as no surprise that the Chargers rank fourth in passing yards per game (293.2). Subsequently, and given that most of a team’s yards come through the air, it’s only natural that the Bolts also rank a respectable eighth place in the league in total yards per contest (372.8).
Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends for this offensive unit, as this club has left a lot to be desired in run production and points scored. In those two facets, the Chargers are among the worst in the league, ranking 28th in points per game (19.2) and 31st in rushing yards per contest (79.7).
Chargers On Defense
In charge of San Diego’s resistance is defensive coordinator John Pagano, who enters his third season at that position. It’s almost hard to believe how far this team has fallen in the rankings after being one of the top defenses for a number of seasons.
Nevertheless, rankings don’t lie, and unfortunately for Bolts fans, this squad is below average in most areas. Entering Week 15, the Chargers defense ranks 14th in passing yards allowed (240.8), 24th in total yards (367.4) and 27th in both points per game (25.7) and rushing yards per contest (126.5).
Chargers Players To Watch
Anytime a team faces the Chargers, the offensive player to watch is without question quarterback Philip Rivers. For years, the North Carolina State product has been the heart and soul of this offense, and entering his 12th year in the league, very little has changed. Rivers comes into Week 15 completing 66 percent of his passes, going 359-for-541 for a total of 3976 yards (NFL Rank: 3rd), 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a quarterback rating of 94.5.
On the defensive side of the rock, the Chargers players to watch are their two sacks leaders. Considering how much trouble Miami’s offensive line has had over the years, Dan Campbell and his staff must prepare for what outside linebackers Melvin Ingram (6 sacks, 50 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) and Jeremiah Attaochu (5.5 sacks, 42 tackles, forced fumble) will bring on gameday.
Dolphins vs. Chargers Outlook
This is a battle of two teams playing for pride, as playoffs are no longer part of the conversation. Being on the road and on the opposite sides of the country, it’s understandable how the Chargers would come in as the team to beat.
Nevertheless, at least on paper, Miami presents some significant challenges for the Bolts, no matter where this game takes place. That’s why one wouldn’t be surprise weather the Fins are able to come away with the win, or if the Chargers have it in them to protect home-field in a meaningless game.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com and other online publications.