Ranking the 5 most important matchups in Chargers-Dolphins Week 1 clash

Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers
Miami Dolphins v Los Angeles Chargers / Harry How/GettyImages

The LA Chargers and Miami Dolphins square off at SoFi Stadium in Week 1 of the 2023 season in a rematch from last season. Los Angeles got the better of Miami in the 2022 matchup and enter this rematch as the favorite at home.

On paper, the Chargers appear to be the superior team as they are a far healthier version of the team that shut the Dolphins down last season. However, football games are not played on paper and Chargers fans have learned that anything can happen.

Instead, there are very specific matchups in this game that will end up being the most influential in deciding the outcome. Let's dive into those matchups in order from least significant to most.

Ranking the most important matchups in Chargers-Dolphins:

5. Mike Williams vs Kader Kohou

Xavien Howard will likely be on the Keenan Allen as he moves around the offensive formation. Miami would be silly not to put Howard on Allen because if not, it will be the kind of game where Allen finishes with 10 catches for 130 yards.

That leaves second-year cornerback Kader Kohou on Mike Williams. Kohou played fairly well in his rookie year but asking him to go up against a jump-ball technician like Mike Williams might be a disaster waiting to happen.

The Chargers can have a good offensive game without Williams playing a big role. If Williams can have a vintage big game then it will be a great offensive game for LA.

4. Michael Davis vs Tyreek Hill

Tyreek Hill is the No. 1 weapon in Miami and typically has a lot of success regardless of who is defending him. The Chargers cannot hope to completely shut Hill down, they just have to hope to contain him and keep the big plays from happening.

It is going to be a true team effort for the Chargers to slow down the athletic receivers that Miami has and Michael Davis is going to play the biggest role against Hill. Luckily, Davis has a lot of experience matching up against Hill and has done fairly well for himself in the past.

3. Christian Wilkins vs. interior Chargers offensive line

The Chargers are likely going to try and establish the run in this Week 1 matchup. All Brandon Staley and Keenan Allen have talked about this offseason is marrying the run to the pass and the play-calling in the preseason backed that notion up.

However, Moore is not going to keep pounding the rock if the running backs are running into a wall and that very well could happen against an elite nose tackle like Christian Wilkins. Wilkins is the type of player who can wreck an entire game plan simply by beating his man.

It is imperative that the Chargers' interior offensive line holds Wilkins at bay not just for the run game, but also in the passing game as well.

2. Tua Tagovailoa vs. Brandon Staley

The biggest takeaway from the 2022 game was how Brandon Staley was able to build on the defensive game plan that the San Francisco 49ers laid the week before and improve on it. Tua Tagovailoa and the passing game could do absolutely nothing against this Chargers defense.

That was completely against every expectation for the game. The Chargers defense was struggling and Miami had the most explosive offense in the sport. Most pundits expected the Dolphins to run up the score against the Chargers in that game.

Staley's entire game plan was built on Tua's biggest weakness: the ability to make plays happen. The team disrupted his timing, gave him different looks than he was expecting and it was enough to throw the entire offense out of whack. Will it happen again? That is the big question.

1. Kendall Lamm vs. Joey Bosa/Khalil Mack

All signs are pointing to Terron Armstead not playing in this game, leaving Kendall Lamm to start at left tackle for the Dolphins. This is horrible timing for Miami, who are coming up against one of the best pass-rushing duos in the sport and have a quarterback who suffered his second concussion in a season last time he played.

There are certain times in NFL games where one overwhelming matchup can literally dictate the outcome of the game. This is one of those times. If Tua is already struggling against Staley's scheme, it won't help if Lamm is getting exposed by the Chargers.

Miami is going to need to do everything in its power to help Lamm with the blocking schemes and hope that he can rise to the occasion. If not, it could be a very long game for Miami.