San Diego Chargers (5-3) at Miami Dolphins (4-3)
The Chargers were blown out in Denver last week, but there are a few reasons why I see them bouncing back this week. The most obvious is that this is a much easier game than last week. As solid as Miami has been this season, they definitely aren’t Denver. The Dolphins move the chains at a 73.13% rate, as opposed to 70.62% for their opponents, a differential of 2.51%, 10th in the NFL. The Chargers, meanwhile, rank 7th in the NFL, moving the chains at a 77.24% rate, as opposed to 74.35% for their opponents, a differential of 2.89%. This line at Miami -1.5 is about right, before you take into account situational trends.
The situational trends all favor San Diego. The second reason why they’ll bounce back this week is that they’re in their 2nd straight road game. For one, they’re in their 2nd of two road games. Teams are 108-70 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 92-48 ATS when it’s their 2nd straight (and not 3rd straight) road game and they next play a home game. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 181-184 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.10 points per game, as opposed to 254-364 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.28 points per game.
The third reason is that teams tend to cover the spread when coming off of a Thursday Night blowout loss, as teams are 24-14 ATS as underdogs off of a Thursday Night loss of 14 or more. This makes sense as they’ve had extra time to hear about how bad they are and to regroup. They also have far less of a distraction with their upcoming game, as they go into their bye and then play the lowly the Raiders, while the Dolphins head to Detroit next week.
Teams are 72-104 ATS since 2002 as non-divisional home favorites before being non-divisional road underdogs. Going off of that, teams are 58-97 ATS since 2010 as home favorites before being road underdogs when their opponent will next be home favorites. The Chargers have a bye in between, which could throw that trend off. There isn’t as much data on teams that have byes in between the game they are favorites and underdogs, but teams are 38-26 ATS in that spot since 1989 and the logic still holds. The Chargers should be the right side, but the trend uncertainty with the Chargers going into a bye keeps this from being a high confidence pick.
San Diego Chargers 27 Miami Dolphins 20 Upset Pick +110
Pick against the spread: San Diego +1.5