(CBSLA/CBS Local) — The Los Angeles Chargers face off against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday in South Florida. And while a Week 4 game against the NFL’s worst team may seem like the perfect antidote for the slow-starting Bolts — Miami is win-less and struggling mightily — the game should not be taken lightly.
This Week 4 matchup has trouble written all over it.
The Dolphins “…look like [a historically bad team],” according to SportsLine senior analyst Larry Hartstein. “0-3, have been outscored by 117 points. That hasn’t happened since 1923.” Their offense and defense are among the worst — if not the worst — in the League.
But they also showed some progress in Week 3. “I did see some positives at Dallas last week,” Hartstein recalls. “They out-gained the Cowboys in the first half by 12 yards. Who would have guessed that?”
A decent half of football in the NFL won’t often net a win for a substandard team. But it can create a foundation of confidence for a young team to build on. And Brian Flores and the Dolphins coaches are looking for anything — anything — to build on.
“They fought hard, they competed hard,” observed Hartstein. “And they were covering until less than four minutes [left] in the game, when Dallas got a late touchdown.” That’s progress from the previous two losses.
Philip Rivers is playing well. But the Chargers continue to miss some key components on both sides of the ball, including wide receiver Mike Williams, who’s now slowed by a back issue, and tight end Hunter Henry, who has a knee injury. The secondary is also decimated by injuries. The team welcomed back Melvin Gordon Thursday from his contract holdout, but he won’t play again until Week 5 against the Denver Broncos.
The Dolphins, on the other hand, “they have got a couple of key guys — Reshad Jones, Albert Wilson — who are close to returning,” notes Hartstein.
Multiple other factors could affect the outcome. “…You look at this Chargers team going cross-country. They have wilted the last three second halves they have played. They have been out-scored badly in the second half. Having to travel, in the heat of south Florida.”
An upset for the Dolphins is still a long-shot. But a scare for the Chargers, who are not playing their best football, is well within the realm of possibility. The Bolts will continue to do what they do, but will that be enough?
The Chargers play the Dolphins Sunday @ 10 a.m. PT on CBS.