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BFTB Roundtable: Chargers vs. Dolphins Week 1 score predictions

The BFTB staff is all-in on the Chargers in the season opener.

Miami Dolphins v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images

The Chargers kickoff in just under 48 hours from the typing of this sentence.

They start the year with a visit from the Dolphins, who visited SoFi Stadium a season ago and left with a 23-17 loss at the hands of a feisty defense.

Ahead of Sunday afternoon, we went around to our staff and gathered their thoughts and predictions for the Chargers’ season opener.

Let’s go ahead and dive in.

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We all know how we would like this game to go, but anything can happen in Week 1. We saw that on Thursday night when the Lions knocked off the Chiefs, albeit a Travis Kelce-less one.

I love this matchup on paper and it’s tough not to lean heavily into the Justin Herbert v. Tua Tagovailoa storyline. These two will be tied together at the hip for their entire careers, just like the 2004 class that included Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. Herbert got the best of Tua in their 2022 matchup, mainly due to a strong defense effort on LA’s part. I don’t feel confident they’ll play up to that standard again, but it’ll be tough not to think they’ll make life tough for Tua with both Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack healthy and on the field together.

Overall, I believe the Dolphins will have their share of splash plays, but predict the Chargers will ultimately have more.

Final Score: Chargers 30-27

Kyle DeDiminicantanio: Mike McDaniel started our last matchup by throwing a haymaker at Alohi Gilman, the depth safety trying to fill-in for All-Pro Derwin James. Gilman rose to the occasion, setting the tone for a strong defensive outing and making very few mistakes on the day. McDaniel likely would have been wiser to exploit known liabilities in the starting roster rather than swinging at the new kid. I wouldn’t be shocked to see McDaniel target Kenneth Murray the go around by sending more runs to his side of the line, and trying to isolate Murray with De’Von Achane in the flat or on a wheel route. Kenneth Murray rising to the occasion, and having the kind of statement game Gilman had against the Dolphins last year, would be the best possible news for the Chargers.

Flip it, and I’m really curious to see how Vic Fangio’s unit starts the season. His defense is the inspiration for Staley’s scheme, and we’ve been led to believe it takes a year or two for players to learn this complicated system, and for the roster to turn over and bring in proper personnel. If Fangio puts on a defensive performance in Week 1 that so much as rivals Staley’s, especially with a healthy Bosa and Mack on the field, it’s going to be a rough start to the season.

My guess is that Vic Fangio’s unit struggles out of the gate, and Kellen Moore makes a statement game in Week 1. Fangio tries to implement his scheme slowly and keeps a two-high shell most of the first half, but Moore makes magic happen with an effective ground attack and some shots coming out of play action.

Staley’s defense does well, but Vic’s influence in this particular game is mostly felt on the offensive side of the ball, as he coaches McDaniel on Staley’s blind spots. This creates a few explosive plays, but eventually the Dolphins are forced to become one-dimensional and play into Staley’s hands.

Final Score: Chargers 34-24, Chargers finish with the ball.

Ryan Watkins: Defensively I think that Staley will have a fun schematic counterpunch to whatever adjustments McDaniel has spent the summer developing to address their abysmal offensive showing last time these two teams met. Staley is one of the best single gameplan DCs in the league and he proved that last year with his masterstroke of using press man with outside leverage to prevent Tua using the outside channels to overcome his lack of arm strength. So he'll see where the Fins will be hoping to gain advantages and get in front of it, the big question will be how early do in-game adjustments come from both Head Coaches. So it's going to be cagey from that side of the ball early on, but Miami will get some wins down the stretch as Staley's press man secondary starts to tire of chasing Waddle and Hill downfield and more zone coverage is deployed which Tua is particularly good at reading. On the other side of the ball I envision an opening drive TD followed by some less successful drives as Herbert starts take the new vertical passing game for a test drive. The second half is where the improved running game will show up with my bold prediction; both Ekeler and Kelley will have over 50 yards and Herbert will have over 30 yards with some designed QB rushes installed. I see the chargers slowly building a lead and push further on in the 4th as Tua is forced to push the ball downfield and turns the ball over at least once to shut down any hopes of a comeback.

Final Score: Chargers 31-23