By Dave Thomas
Remember that difficult two-game stretch (games on a Sunday and the following Thursday night) that many folks talked about in the last week for the San Diego Chargers?
At best, the Bolts would have come out of games with Kansas City (lost 23-20) and Denver (lost 35-21) at 2-0 or even 1-1. At worst, the Chargers would lose both games. As fans know, the latter was the end result.
So, where does a team that had won five straight games and led the AFC West go from here?
Sitting at 5-3 (with Denver in first and Kansas City hot on their tail), the Chargers look to get back on the winning track this coming Sunday in South Florida when they tussle with the 4-3 (third-place in AFC East) Miami Dolphins.
Fins Hanging Around In AFC East
While Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (6-2) appear yet again to be the class of the AFC East, there is no denying that both Miami and Buffalo (5-3) are not going to go away in the divisional race anytime soon. Other than the hapless New York Jets, it could easily be a three-team race for division supremacy over the next two months.
Coming into the season, not too many people probably had the Dolphins on their radar as a serious contender in both the division and the AFC. Having defeated the Chargers in a close game a year ago in South Florida, the Bolts are likely to be in for yet another dogfight this coming Sunday before the schedule lightens up a bit with a bye week, followed by home dates with the Raiders (Nov. 16) and Rams (Nov. 23).
Miami comes into this contest fresh-off a sound win over in-state foe Jacksonville. The Jags, who only a week earlier scored their first win of the season (beat Cleveland), were held to only six points against the Fish.
To date, Miami’s defense has been led by the likes of linebacker Jelani Jenkins (53 total tackles) and defensive end Cameron Wake (5.5 sacks).
On the offensive side of the ball, the Dolphins turn to former Texas A&M product Ryan Tannehill, who has thrown for nearly 1,700 yards and 11 touchdowns so far in 2014.
Tannehill’s top receiving threats include former Pittsburgh Steelers’ product Mike Wallace (418 yards, 5 TD’s), while Lamar Miller leads the Miami rushing attack with 469 yards and 4 touchdowns.
While anything can happen on any given day in the NFL, don’t look for Sunday’s tilt between two teams fighting for position in the AFC playoff race to get involved in a shootout.
A season ago, Miami pulled out a thrilling 20-16 win in the match up in South Florida.
As for the all-time series, Miami holds a slim 15-14 edge, with a 9-4 mark at home against San Diego.
For more Chargers news and updates, visit Chargers Central.
Dave Thomas has been covering the sports world since his first job as a sports editor for a weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania back in 1989. He has covered a Super Bowl, college bowl games, MLB, NBA and more. His work can be found on Examiner.com.