Dolphins versus Chargers. Fish, er, mammals against lightning bolts. This rivalry was once considered one of the NFL's best. Playoff clashes twice in the eighties, then two more for good measure in the nineties.
"The Epic in Miami" overtime game played to exhaustion in the Florida humidity on January 2, 1982 is still regarded as the greatest game ever played. The Chargers prevailed 41-38 on a 29-yard field goal kick by Rolf Benirschke that felt as merciful to the players on the field as it did to the Charger fans riding the emotional roller coaster at home.
Sports Illustrated called it "a game no one should lose."
But who cares?
The media echo chamber only has enough bandwidth for one narrative this weekend: Tua versus Herbert. In case you didn't know, the two quarterbacks have been linked together since the 2020 draft when Tua Tagovailoa was selected fifth--one spot higher than Justin Herbert.
This is the third time these two have gone head-to-head. The Dolphins won 29-21 in 2020. The Chargers won the rematch 23-17 in 2022.
Tagovailoa came into that 2022 match a leading candidate for MVP, leading the league in multiple passing metrics. The Dolphins were 8-4 at the time and NBC's Chris Collinsworth was teasing them as a possible Super Bowl contender.
Then Tagovailoa completed ten passes (one of which was a play in which Michael Davis tripped and left Tyreek Hill wide open for a 60 yard touchdown catch) for 145 yards. His 35.7 completion percentage was thirty points lower than his season average (64.8) and he struggled to decipher the Bolts' man coverage played on the outside against the zone coverage protecting the middle of the field.
What will happen this Sunday for their third matchup? We asked some of our producers to make some fun predictions for NFL Week 1 - Chargers vs. Dolphins.
THE BRORACLE (official Bolt Bros mystical football divinator) consults the Runes: Raido. Odin. Dagaz. The Dolphins have the advantage with a historical 17-15 vs Chargers, but that is destined to change. Our dreams of victory are possible but not guaranteed. Trust in the football gods and they will bless us with glory.
Chargers 33-24 Dolphins
Bolted Up Tailgaters
The Chargers open the season as 3 point favorites against the Miami Dolphins at SoFi Stadium. Over in Lightning Lane--home to the Rivers Lake Yacht Club and the Bolted Up Tailgaters--the 1:25 PM Pacific kickoff means thirty more minutes of tailgating; which is enough time for two extra games of flip cup, a few more sessions of the RLYC's "Charger Challenge", or maybe a prance through some Dolphin's fan tailgates while blasting, "We Ready!"
The last time the Chargers hosted a home opener against the Dolphins was in 2017, the first regular season game the Bolts hosted in Los Angeles. A game where Antonio Gates set the all-time TE touchdown record and rookie kicker Younghoe Koo missed a crucial kick at the end of the game to allow the Dolphins to squeak out the win. That game was sparsely attended by Chargers fans.
Koo's last second kick was greeted by so many cheers that some Chargers players thought the kick had gone in.
Justin Herbert will lead the new Kellen Moore offense, which happens to be a perfect fit with Brandon Staley's aggressive style. The Los Angeles defense will be healthy--for at least one game--and the Dolphins have the displeasure of having to face Derwin James, J.C. Jackson, and Joey Bosa who all missed the last matchup with injuries. Tagovailoa struggled against backups, completing 10-of-28 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers walk away from this one with a convincing win. Kellen Moore will be allowed to run up the score, unlike when he was coordinating under Mike McCarthy, and this Chargers defense will stifle Tua all game long.
INTERESTING STAT: The Chargers haven't started better than 2-0 since 2002. I would wager a lot of present day Chargers fans weren't even alive the last time the Chargers started the season hot. This year I believe those fortunes can change.
Chargers cover the spread.
Chargers 34 -Dolphins17
Sushi anyone? If you can recall the last encounter the Chargers had with the Miami Fishies, you remember Primetime Herb cooking up a storm under the Sunday Night Lights and winning 23-17.
And with his massive contract and ever-growing fan base (Tua included), Herb is looking to cook some more, with his new, not-so-secret ingredient in Kellen Moore. We're going deep (sea-diving) on this one.
Chargers 27 -Dolphins 14
Thunder Down Under
Football is BACK baby! Currently watching the Lions serve it up to the Chiefs with my newly born baby daughter in my arms. Paternity leave has come at the PERFECT time!
The Bolts are facing the Fins and it’s a battle of Brandon Staley versus Mike McDaniel. Both are branches of the Shannahan tree, we have Vic Fangio on the sideline, Kellen Moore calling plays for the first time—practically a big, weird family reunion on the sidelines.
But what I am MOST excited about is finally seeing the ‘new and improved’ Justin Herbert the leader. Having just watched the ‘All In’ season 3 opener, it seems Herbie has suddenly become a ‘guy’. His steely gaze at the camera would scare me if I was an opposition fan.
Is it Tua versus Herbert again on Sunday? Or is that debate over? We will wait and see what the narratives will be on the broadcast.
What I do know is that the Dolphins will be a handful on offense. Speed kills, and the Dolphins have plenty of it. Dolphins Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle could be the most dominant WR duo in the league by season’s end, and De'Von Achane and Raheem Mostert are also sub 4.3 running backs. Setting edges will be important. Covering quick slants will be important. Keeping the lid on will be important. Forcing Tua out of his first, second, and third reads will be important. Get an early hit on Tua to rattle him.
What do we bring? Well, I cannot wait to see Moore’s ‘dagger’ concepts with Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Quentin Johnston. Don’t sleep on Joshua Palmer, either. Austen Ekeler has something to prove.
But really, the main attraction is Herbie. We can’t deny that. I predict Chargers win by 7-10 points, Herbert goes bananas with 250+ yards and 2+ touchdowns.
Chargers 27-Dolphins 17
Florida Man Gets Electrocuted.
As much as I'd like to see classic Charger-ing in Week 1, Herbert & Co are in the driver's seat to beat Tua and the Fish.
The Chargers are 3-3 against the Dolphins in the last 10 years, and one could argue this is the best offense the Bolts have owned over that same span.
Will Tua bounce back from injury and utilize Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle? Will Kellen Moore (a clear upgrade over Timid Joe) push the boundaries early and often?
As the jaded ex-fan, I predict Week 1 will bring us a certified "Charger Moment," but don’t be shocked if that Charger moment ends with the Dolphins taking it after a last second field goal. The misery will (hopefully) never end.
Dolphins 30-Chargers 27
The Greek Uncles in Chicago
Abram Sexson and Panos Mamalis
My Yiayia used to say “if the olive is ripe, it will fall off the tree blessing the branch that bore it.”
It’s put up or shut up time and the faithful want to know if lightning will strike at SoFi.
Yes, yes it will. The Dolphins injury report is longer than Yiayia's stray chin hair. Early indicators say new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is working out kinks faster than my cousin Maria before she got hitched to rich Bobby.
Even though the Dolphins of late have been money against the spread (ATS), give me the Powder Blue. Don't forget last December's match up: The Chargers held Tua to 145 yards on 10-28 passing and 17 points. The Bolts had double the yards, almost double the first downs and double the time of possession (39:38 vs 20:22) for a 6 point win.
Chargers 24-Dolphins 20
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