THE CRYSTAL BALL

The Dolphins will look to get back on track Monday night against the San Diego Chargers, with Brian Griese expected to start at quarterback. How big a difference can he make for the offense? Will it lead to a victory over San Diego? Here's how we see the game unfolding.

The Dolphins offense has only one direction to go after the way it has played in recent weeks, even if it wasn't all Jay Fiedler's fault.

The truth is the offensive line has been mediocre at best and the receivers aren't making enough big plays.

But Fiedler isn't absolved of all blame. He has not performed as well as he needs to so far this season, and maybe — just maybe — switching to Griese can jump-start the offense.

Griese has the advantage of going against a team he's familiar with from his day with Denver. It's also a defense that is very young and among the lowest-ranked in the NFL.

The secondary, in particular, is very suspect, so the opportunity is there for the Dolphins passing game to break out Monday night.

Griese didn't look particularly sharp when he was in there in the preseason, but he has gotten more and more familiar with the offense from a knowledge standpoint and he should be fine.

The Dolphins don't have light-it-up personnel on offense, so to expect Griese to come in and throw for 300 yards is unrealistic. But we see him passing for, say, 230 yards with maybe a couple of touchdowns.

The Chargers were very good at stopping the run in recent years, but that has changed this season. Still, they figure to focus on stopping Ricky Williams. Even so, we look for Williams to have his first 100-yard game since the Sunday night victory over Buffalo.

On the other side of the ball, the Chargers offense begins and ends with LaDainian Tomlinson. He will present a good challenge for the Dolphins defense, but keep in mind the Dolphins are No. 1 against the run this season.

We see no reason that doesn't continue.

The Chargers have a great receiver in David Boston, but the Dolphins pass rush should be able to get to Drew Brees a couple of times.

The Dolphins have held San Diego under 10 points in the teams' last three meetings and we wouldn't be surprised if it became four in a row.

As for the game moving from San Diego to Arizona, that favors the Dolphins in every possible way.

Think about it, this was a road game to begin with, but not for San Diego, which suddenly had to pack, all the while worrying about family and friends in the fire-ravaged city.

In addition, whatever crowd shows up at Sun Devil Stadium figures to be a pro-Dolphins crowd, because the Dolphins have a lot more fan outside of their home base than the Chargers do.

That's just one of the many reasons all signs point to the Dolphins bouncing back from the loss to New England.

The call: Dolphins 24, Chargers 9.


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