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Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers - What to Watch For

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Did someone say "bolt?"
Did someone say "bolt?"

I'd like to apologize in advance for the brevity of this post. Being a working musician on the weekends means I get to do fun things like play weddings. And when that wedding takes place in a state I do not live in, well, multiply that fun factor by about a million

Anyway, in case you missed it (and I envy you if you did), the Dolphins officially hopped onto the Andrew Luck Watch 2012 train after that morale-boosting second half in Cleveland last Sunday. And now it's off to San Diego, where our team should feel right at home playing in an environment that pulls in about the same amount of fans as Sun Life(less) Stadium.

I don't think it's a stretch to say the Dolphins will be playing with house money from here on out this season, which would have me a lot sadder if not for the wonderful QB prize(s) that await at the end of this long, humiliating season. I'll never root for the Dolphins to lose, but I sure haven't felt as horrid after each of our three losses this season. And why should I? Our red-zone offense is depressing, and our defense looks like it spent the offseason committing to the Gilbert Brown diet.

Of course, the Chargers haven't looked unbeatable this season, either, and were an eyelash away from handing Kansas City its first win last week. And as bad as we've played, we're not as bad as the Chiefs (I think). So maybe we give these guys a run for their money on Sunday (Ah, I can almost see the possibility of Andrew Luck fading away like the photograph of Marty McFly's family in Back to the Future).

Let's take a look at some factors that could have a big influence in this game.

Antonio Gates is unlikely to play tomorrow

After watching our defense continue to hemorrhage yards and points up the seam this season, it'll be nice to not have to worry about Antonio Gates going upside our heads repeatedly during this game. Of course, their other tight end is Randy McMichael, and we all know how feels about the Dolphins franchise.

Daniel Thomas and Vontae Davis won't be playing, either

Oh, and then there's this little disadvantage. Thomas has looked monstrous the last two weeks, and Davis' inability to suit up last week actually forced us to depend on Nolan Carroll (which is something I wouldn't recommend). Thomas has the look of a big, franchise-caliber back, and not having him in the line-up this week will likely allow the Chargers to stretch out in coverage. It'll be interesting to see if Steve Slaton gets any work during this game.

Davis' absence will be a good thing for Philip Rivers, who is struggling thus far this season (I know this because he's killing my boss' fantasy team). Look for Rivers to try and get well on the spot that Davis would normally occupy.

Clyde Gates should be able to do some damage in the return game

To say the Chargers' special teams play is bad would be extremely kind. It's actually so bad, it kept the Bolts out of the playoffs last year (a team that had both the No.1 offense and defense in the league). This could be good news for Clyde Gates, who has been very close to reeling off a big return on multiple occasions this season. It's time to show off that sub-4.3 speed he supposedly has.

Play both halves, please

I thought the Dolphins looked perfectly fine in the first against Cleveland last week, but their inability to pressure the quarterback during the second half ultimately cost Miami the game. Philip Rivers isn't Colt McCoy, so if the Dolphins want to escape southern California with a victory, its defense must pressure Rivers throughout the second-half. Don't give this guy a full minute to scan the field and find one of his tree-like receivers. San Diego's only real stud lineman is center Nick Hardwick, so it's not unrealistic to expect the Dolphins' front seven to get into the Chargers' backfield and create problems. Whether or not that will actually happen is an entirely different story.

Prediction: Miami 19, Chargers 17

I can't pick against the Dolphins, regardless of how disgusted I am with them right now.