Justin Herbert and the LA Chargers take on Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins.
Back-to-back heartbreaking losses have dropped the once-promising LA Chargers to 2-6 on the season with their 2020 campaign lying in the balance as we come to Week 10.
This week we’ll get to see the first of hopefully many matchups between quarterbacks from this past year’s draft class as Justin Herbert, a rising Rookie of the Year candidate, will take on 2-0 golden boy Tua Tagovailoa making his third professional start.
So far, it’s been smooth for Tua as he’s won both of his games he’s started and beaten two pretty good NFC West teams in the Rams and Cardinals. Does Tua continue the winning streak this time around, or will the Bolts show up and surprise us all? I think you’ll like what I have to say about this game.
But first, I can’t go any further without recapping the past two weeks. I left you guys hanging last week here on Bolt Beat, but I actually had the Chargers winning that game against the Raiders. I was able to hit the over 51.5 points, but fell short otherwise as a team I find myself struggling to get a read on weekly in the Raiders once again broke my heart.
I’m now 3-5 this year picking Raider games outright and 2-6 picking Raider spreads which I’m sure you as Charger fans couldn’t care less about, but for context, me being so bad at picking Raider games this year rubbed off on my ability to pick Charger games, which is what ultimately led me to be wrong last week.
Before last week, I was 6-1 on the year in picking Charger games outright and 5-1-1 in picking Charger spreads. I’ve since dropped another loss on both of those, so my near-pristine Bolts resume took another hit as a result of my ineptitude at predicting anything Raiders-related.
As for two weeks ago, look……….I’m not one to bring up old stuff, especially old stuff that hurts you guys to talk about because that loss was beyond brutal. But I can’t continue this article without humbly bragging just a little bit that I went 3-for-3 in my predictions for that game in taking the Broncos to win, the Broncos +3, and the over 44.5.
That’s all I’ll say on the matter. I’m not looking to incite a riot.
Now that you officially hate me for bringing up painful truths, let me get into what I believe this week will entail for the Bolts.
I’ll start off with this- unfortunately, the numbers don’t look too good here, guys. These two teams all-time are pretty even being 18-16 in favor of the Dolphins, but Miami (in the series) has now won 4 of their last 6, 11 of their last 15, and 8 of their last 9 at home against the Bolts.
They’re 10-5 all-time at home against the boys in powder blue and before last year’s game at Miami in which the Chargers won, the Bolts hadn’t won in Miami since 1982.
Last year was the exception, not the rule for this cross-country rivalry.
But here’s the good news, the Dolphins are officially a really good team. And what do we know about this year’s Chargers? They always play up to their competition.
Three weeks ago, we had them get by a bad Jaguars team with a late surge to win and cover 7.5 points. A game in which they had to put up 39 points just to survive. Bad opponent. Not a particularly great performance by the Bolts until the end.
These past two weeks, the Chargers have seen two middle-of-the-road teams in Denver and Las Vegas, both of which could have gone either way any day of the week. It just so happens that the Bolts got unlucky in both of them and extended their “unable to beat AFC West teams” streak.
Now we come to this week where they get a hot Dolphins team with a quarterback who can do no wrong in Tua Tagovailoa (pronounced “Tungovailoa” to my bewilderment).
Last time I checked, the Chargers were 3-0 this year covering spreads as the underdog. They did it against the Chiefs. Then the Bucs. Then the Saints. Vegas put a hex on them by making them favorite is each of the past three games and to this point, they are 1-3-1 covering spreads as favorites. This team’s spot is when they are the underdog much like they are this week.
I’m going with Justin Herbert and the Bolts to stun golden boy Tua and the surging Fins this week. I can’t really explain it. The numbers say otherwise pretty indicatively.
But this Chargers team is a mover of the football (2nd in YPG, 5th in PYPG, and 8th in RYPG as of the end of Week 9) and now that they’re coming in with all eyes on Tua and how the Fins can do no wrong, I can very well see Justin Herbert destroying this Miami defense and raising the questions as to why Tua was taken ahead of him.
Here’s my thing with Tua, and then I’ll wrap this up.
There’s no question to me that he is the clear number one quarterback prospect who came out of this class purely from a talent standpoint. I’ll let you in on a little secret. I love what Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert are bringing to their respective teams and I feel like both franchises are sharply turning in a positive direction.
I acknowledged that even though I thought both of them would show a lot of promise this year that Tua was still the better prospect because of how accurate he is with the football.
But something has changed me over these past few months. Something just doesn’t feel right about Tua. I don’t know if it’s the fact that he has extensive injury history and things like that don’t really seem to go away. I don’t know if he’s got that Baker Mayfield effect going on where he’s in 437 commercials when he’s barely seen any action on an NFL field.
I don’t know if it’s because he’s lefty in a righty-dominated sport or because his name doesn’t roll off the tongue like you would want your quarterback’s name to do.
All I can say is that I’ve drifted closer into the camps of Herbert and Burrow rather than Tua since the draft and I have a strange suspicion that something just doesn’t seem right with him. I wouldn’t go as far as to say he’s in “bust” territory because after all, we just saw how he toughed it out against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals last week and won that battle.
But maybe, just maybe CC Sabathia was onto something when he said Tua would be the third-best quarterback from the 2020 class behind Herbert and Burrow. I was feeling it and CC said it, and as we all know, confirmation bias is a wonderful thing.
So, I just want to throw it out there that maybe just maybe Tua isn’t the second coming of Patrick Mahomes. From what I’ve seen in the Dolphins’ first two games with Tua is that they’re still committed to the run, and now that they’ve lost Preston Williams, that passing game has been limited even more.
The moral of the story is I think Tua is being overrated just a teensy bit and that I believe Justin Herbert is going to come out and thoroughly outplay him in this game.
As for the over/under, it’s a tough call for me. Miami is 3-5 in hitting overs this year while LA is 5-3. In 34 total games in this series, 13 have gone over 48.5 points (38%) and 4 of 15 games at Miami (27%) have done the same.
When comparing to the rest of the slate this week, I have the Bolts/Fins game being the 5th-most likely game of 13 to go over its total, so it leans in the direction of “over.”
If this total was in the 50s, I would say a percentage like 38% would be pretty good and I would strongly go for an over pick. Now, I’m a little reserved on the matter, but I think if Justin comes out and gets into a groove, this game easily goes over 48.5.
I’m taking the Bolts to get the upset win here by a score of 29-26 and move to 3-6 on the season. Next week is the Jets for LA, so I think (as of now) that they’ll win these next two games to get to 4-6. As for Miami, they go to Denver next week, which is also a very winnable game for them, so there could be an instance where Miami wins this game and next and move to 7-3.
I’m not too high on that. I think we’re going to see an upset here with a Chargers win. Both schedules even out better if LA wins this game.
Let’s see what Justin Herbert can do in a big spot like this.