Two highly-touted rookie quarterbacks face off today, as Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers (2-6) travel to Florida to take on Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins (5-3). The Chargers almost secured their third win of the season against the Las Vegas Raiders last week, but tight end Donald Parham could not hold onto the would-be game-winning score in the end zone. Herbert and Co. fell, 31-26.
The Dolphins on the other hand are on an absolute roll, as Tagovailoa has won both of his first two starts. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns against Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals in Miami's 34-31 win, and did enough to beat one of the best teams in the NFL. It certainly appears the Dolphins have their quarterback of the future. The defense is also on a roll as they have scored touchdowns in each of the last two games as well.
Before we get into the details of Sunday's matchup, let's break down how you can keep up with the action:
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The Dolphins lead the all-time series against the Chargers, 16-14, and have won two out of the past three. A big key to a Chargers victory is clearly going to be how Herbert performs. Miami's defense is scrappy and has even shown over the past two weeks that they can put points on the board as well. Herbert has 10 touchdowns as opposed to three interceptions in three career road starts, and he leads all rookies with 17 touchdown passes this season. The Chargers are going to need a big outing from him on Sunday -- especially with running back Justin Jackson banged up. Los Angeles is an underdog for good reason, but Miami is dealing with some COVID-19 related issues that could affect the defense. The Dolphins announced Thursday that defensive tackle Christian Wilkins and linebacker Kyle Van Noy were among three players heading to the reserve/COVID list, which doesn't necessarily mean the veterans will miss Week 10, but certainly calls into question their availability.
As for the Dolphins' keys to victory, we could simply say that Tagovailoa needs to register another big performance or the defense needs to stonewall Herbert, but there's one thing the Dolphins can accomplish that would guarantee them a win on Sunday: Consistency in all three facets of the game. In Tagovailoa's first win as a starter over the Los Angeles Rams a couple of weeks ago, he completed just 12 of 22 passes for 93 yards and a touchdown, but Miami recorded touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. It was a total team win, and if they can play as one cohesive unit along with the continued improvement of Tagovailoa -- that's a recipe for a Dolphins win.
I believe the Dolphins are the better team in this matchup, but more importantly I think they have momentum going for them. Miami is undefeated with Tagovailoa, so why not keep riding his hot streak? To see how the rest of our CBS Sports experts feel about this game, click here.
Score: Dolphins 28-24 over Chargers