It’s finally here.
Once fans got the chance to see the 2022 Chargers season schedule, the matchup against Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins was most certainly circled and underlined as one of the most anticipated games outside of the divisional matchups.
Add in the insane amount of social media debate that’s been transpiring between Justin Herbert truthers and a certain FOX Sports analyst that will remain nameless, this matchup has only grown and grown in hype as the season has gone on.
Below are the three biggest things I’ll be watching for when these teams take the field on Sunday night.
1.) Who will finish the game with more passing yards: Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa?
For casual fans, the most obvious answer here is Tagovailoa. He’s got two of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL with Tyreek Hill (1,379) and Jaylen Waddle (972) on his offense, both of whom rank inside the top five in receiving yards (first and fifth, respectively).
As of week 14, Tua has 2,859 passing yards in 10 games played (missed two from concussions) while Herbert has 3,339 in 12. That means Tua’s average of 285.9 bests Herbert’s average of 278.3, but that’s not all that much better, especially when you compare who either have been throwing to.
Tua has had Hill and Waddle start all 10 games he has played. Herbert has played in eight games with Mike Williams and five for Keenan Allen. However, we obviously know both of those numbers are actually less when you recall each exited a game early in the first quarter at least once this season.
Social media is going to blow up during this game and whoever ends up performing better will, for the foreseeable future, be seen as the better quarterback. While that looks like it should easily be Tagovailoa that throws for more yards, you simply cannot count out Herbert who has consistently shown he can find success through the air no matter who he’s throwing the ball to.
2.) Should Mike Williams return in week 14, will he be on a pitch count?
After Williams sustained his high ankle sprain against the Seahawks in week seven, the wideout returned against the Chiefs for less than a quarter before re-aggravating the injury.
Despite not being considered a “serious” setback by Brandon Staley, Williams has missed the past two games but just recently returned to practice on Wednesday in a limited fashion. While it’s not necessarily an indicator that he’ll play, it’s hard to imagine Williams missing another week, especially when this week’s game could go a long way in making sure the Chargers retain some semblance of a chance to make the postseason.
If Williams plays, I have to believe it won’t be on a pitch count. It’s far too late in the season and the Chargers failed to take advantage of the easier games prior to now that would allow them to rest starters to some degree in these latter games. If Williams takes the field against the Dolphins, it has to be all or nothing.
3.) Will Michael Davis get the honor of shadowing Tyreek Hill?
Davis played a strong game against DeAndre Hopkins and the Cardinals. He followed that up with another notable performance against Davante Adams and the Raiders where he posted a season-high game grade of 79.3, including a season best 80.5 in coverage.
As of week 14, I think it’s safe to say that Davis is playing like the team’s top cornerback outside of Bryce Callahan. With Callahan playing mainly in the slot, Davis is certainly the best playing on the outside.
With his elite speed, Davis has always been the guy to cover Hill while he was still with the Chiefs and I don’t think that would change just because he’s wearing different colors.