CHARGERS A TOUGH CHALLENGE

As strange as it may sound shortly after their three-game losing streak, the Dolphins could find themselves holding the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs come Monday.<P>

A lot of things have to happen for that to become reality, but it's not impossible. In addition to the Dolphins beating San Diego on Sunday, Indianapolis would have to beat Denver and Tennessee would have to lose at Baltimore.

Regardless, a victory over the Chargers would be huge for the Dolphins because the teams conceivably could wind up being involved in a tiebreaker for playoff positioning.

But before we get to that point, the Dolphins have to take care of business the rest of the way in the regular season, starting with Sunday's San Diego game.

What follows is a glance at the Dolphins-Chargers matchup.

WHO: Miami Dolphins (6-4) vs. San Diego Chargers (7-3)

WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

WHERE: Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Fla.

TV: CBS (Greg Gumbel, play-by-play; Phil Simms, analysis; Armen Keteyian, sidelines)

LINE: Dolphins by 3

NFL RANKINGS: Dolphins — 17th in NFL in total offense, 9th in rushing offense, 21st in passing offense, 6th in total defense, 2nd in rushing defense, 13th in passing defense

Chargers — 15th in NFL in total offense, 6th in rushing offense, 24th in passing offense, 25th in total defense, 3rd in rushing defense, 30th in passing defense

COACHES: Dolphins, Dave Wannstedt (3rd year with team); Chargers, Marty Schottenheimer (1st year with team)

SERIES RECORD: Miami leads 12-10 (the teams have split four playoff meetings)

LAST FIVE MEETINGS: 2000 at San Diego, Dolphins 17, Chargers 7

1999 at Miami, Dolphins 12, Chargers 9

1995 at San Diego, Dolphins 24, Chargers 14

1995 at San Diego (playoffs), Chargers 22, Dolphins 21

1993 at San Diego, Chargers 45, Dolphins 20

INJURIES: Dolphins — WR Cris Carter (kidney) and QB Jay Fiedler (thumb) are out; DE David Bowens (knee) and T Mark Dixon (ankle) are questionable; S Trent Gamble (groin), FB Rob Konrad (quad), QB Ray Lucas (elbow), TE Randy McMichael (foot) and CB Patrick Surtain (calf) are probable.

Chargers — T Vaughn Parker (elbow) is out; RB Terrell Fletcher (ankle), G Michael Keathley (ankle) and T Damion McIntosh (ankle) are questionable; WR Curtis Conway (shoulder), DE Adrian Dingle (abdominal), LB Donnie Edwards (concussion), G Bob Hallen (concussion), FB Fred McCrary (thigh), TE Josh Norman (calf) and LB Carlos Polk (ankle) are probable.


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