Chargers vs. Dolphins: Who has the edge?

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CHARGERS (0-1) vs. DOLPHINS (0-0)
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
Where: StubHub Center
Line: Chargers by 3.5 points
TV/Radio: CBS; 640-AM, 980-AM (Spanish)

CHARGERS OFFENSE vs. DOLPHINS DEFENSE

The Chargers’ offense was stop-and-go in Denver this past Monday, but that was against a top-tier Broncos defense. Miami’s aging unit, even with star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, isn’t nearly as stout. The Dolphins gave up 2,247 yards on the ground last year, more than anyone else in the NFL except the Browns and the 49ers. Anthony Lynn reiterated this week that he wants to run the ball, so don’t be surprised if Melvin Gordon tops 20 carries for just the seventh time in his career. Philip Rivers threw four interceptions the last time he faced the Dolphins, but he should be much fresher than he was in that Week 10 loss. EDGE: CHARGERS

DOLPHINS OFFENSE vs. CHARGERS DEFENSE

Melvin Ingram isn’t worried about Jay Cutler. Maybe he should be. Chargers cornerback Jason Verrett is week-to-week with a knee injury, which means Cutler has a chance to pick on Trevor Williams, an undrafted second-year pro. Williams is moving from nickel to outside corner, which means more snaps for fifth-round pick Desmond King. After playing just three defensive snaps in his NFL debut, King could find himself matched up with two-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry, arguably the best slot receiver in the league. And don’t forget Jay Ajayi; the third-year tailback is the engine of the Miami offense, and had three 200-yard games last season.

But Ingram wasn’t just spouting off. He and defensive end Joey Bosa make for one of the league’s top pass-rushing duos. If they knock Cutler around and cause turnovers, they could swing the game. EDGE: EVEN

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Chargers allowed a potential game-tying field goal to be blocked in Denver, as well as two returns for more than 30 yards. Receiver Travis Benjamin also managed to lose three yards on his only punt return. The Dolphins added a new punter and kicker, respectively, in rookie Matt Haack and former Pro Bowler Cody Parkey. They also finished top-10 last season in both kick and punt return coverage. EDGE: DOLPHINS

COACHING

Miami hired Adam Gase over Lynn two years ago, and ended up going to the playoffs for the first time in nearly a decade. Gase has forged himself a reputation as one of the profession’s young stars, and could be the ideal person to squeeze the last bit of juice out of Cutler’s career. Lynn could still very well turn into an excellent coach, he doesn’t have much of a record to lean on after a season-opening loss. EDGE: DOLPHINS

INTANGIBLES

Hurricane Irma not only delayed the Dolphins’ Week 1 opener, but prompted them to move to California early to practice. That Miami has yet to play a game means players will be fresher — but perhaps a bit rusty. StubHub Center might not provide a rowdy home crowd, but the Chargers will be itching for a win after Monday’s comeback in Denver fell just short. EDGE: CHARGERS

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Chargers cornerback Trevor Williams vs. Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker: Parker hasn’t recorded a 1,000-yard season since high school, but Miami is still counting on the former first-round pick to break out as a true No. 1 receiver. With Landry and Kenny Stills drawing their own share of defensive attention, Parker could find himself one on one with Williams — who represents a noticeable step down from the injured Verrett.

PREDICTION

The Dolphins had a remarkable turnaround last year, but they also went 8-2 in one-score contests. There’s plenty of room for regression, and given how unlucky the Chargers have been as of late — 1-9 in such games dating to last season — the balance may finally tilt in their favor. Chargers 28, Dolphins 24



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