Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
The Chargers are 6-6, but their six wins have all been close and have come by a combined 24 points, while their six losses have come by a combined 61 points, leading to a point differential of -37 that ranks just 24th in the NFL. They’re even worse than that suggests as they have benefitted from a below average schedule and they have a +4 turnover margin, tied for 5th best in the NFL, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, which is predictive and takes into account strength of schedule, the Chargers rank 29th, about 6 points below average.
The Chargers came into the season with a lot of promise, but they have had a lot of problems with key players missing injury. They got talented wide receiver Keenan Allen back from injury a few weeks ago and this week their other talented wide receiver Mike Williams and stud center Corey Linsley return, but they still remain without talented left tackle Rashawn Slater, expected top cornerback JC Jackson, and stud edge defender Joey Bosa, who would be among their best and most important players if healthy, as would safety Derwin James, who will miss his first game of the season. Also missing their first games of the season are lesser players in defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and right tackle Trey Pipkins.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, lost last week in San Francisco, but that was their first loss this season in nine games started and finished by Tua Tagovailoa and this week the Dolphins will get back stud left tackle Terron Armstead from injury, whose absence was a big problem in last week’s loss. Even with last week’s loss taken into account, as well as the stretch they played without Tagovailoa earlier in the season, the Dolphins still rank 9th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 3 points above average and 9 points ahead of the Chargers. My roster rankings also have the Dolphins as the significantly better team, giving them a 11.5-point edge, with the Dolphins heading in the opposite direction from the Chargers injury wise.
Normally I would shy away from an east coast team playing a west coast team at night, as that is historically a bad spot to bet a team against the spread, with circadian rhythms significantly benefitting the players on the west coast team, who are three hours behind the east coast team. However, in addition to the significant line value we are getting with the Dolphins as mere 3-point favorites, the Chargers also have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, lacking fans in the area and, as a result, are 27-17 ATS at home, as opposed to 17-27 ATS on the road, since moving to the city in 2017. Because of that, I can confidently take the Dolphins as my Pick of the Week at -3. I would like them at -3.5 as well, but for a lesser bet.
Miami Dolphins 30 Los Angeles Chargers 20
Pick against the spread: Miami -3
Confidence: Pick of the Week