Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely to move to Los Angeles; ranking them in order of the likeliest to call L.A. home within the next few years.
1. SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (3-1)
• Last week: San Diego beat the Miami Dolphins 26-16 at Qualcomm Stadium. It is only the second time since 2002 that the Chargers have started the season 3-1 and they have done it by defeating three winless teams. After so many years of starting the season slowly, however, the Chargers will take their fast start anyway they can get it. “The only thing faster would be 4-0,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “It's a little faster than it has been around here. It's usually a flip of 3-1.”
• This week: The Chargers finally face a team that has won a game, although the 1-3 Denver Broncos aren’t exactly a juggernaut. San Diego will travel to Denver Sunday afternoon for an AFC West game and a win would give the Chargers a three-game winning streak and a 4-1 start to the season for the first time since 2006. Rivers, who had thrown six interceptions through the first three games of the season, finally went a game without throwing a pick but the team is still 16th in the NFL in red-zone efficiency, scoring eight touchdowns on 17 trips inside the 20-yard line.
• L.A. Story: Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani is still pushing for the public to largely finance a football stadium in downtown San Diego, which would also serve as an extension to the San Diego Convention Center but after having the idea criticized by politicians and convention center officials, all involved the parties have “clammed up.” San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, convention center spokesman Steve Johnson, Sanders’ stadium point man, Fred Maas, spokesman for San Diego’s hoteliers, Mike McDowell, and Fabiani all declined to speak to the San Diego Union-Tribune about the project this week. “It’s time to have the discussion, but nobody wants to convene the discussion,” Tom Lemmon , business manager for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council, AFL-CIO, told the Tribune.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-4)
• Last week: Minnesota lost to the Kansas City Chiefs 22-17 at Arrowhead Stadium in a battle between two of the last winless teams in the league. The Vikings, which squandered double-digit second half leads in their first three losses, only blew a 7-3 lead in the first half before they were once again outscored in the second half . So far this season the Vikings have been outscored 80-16 after halftime.
• This week: The Vikings will try to win their first game of the season on Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals come to Minnesota. Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb will go up against his former backup in Philadelphia and current Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said this week that McNabb would remain the team’s starter even though Minnesota ranks 31st in the league in passing offense with first-round draft pick Christian Ponder waiting in the wings.
• L.A. Story: So why did the Vikings move up the rankings? Well, their proposed $1.1 billion stadium project in Arden Hills may be on life support after the Ramsey County Charter Commission holds the second of two public hearings on proposed ballot language that could prevent the county from using a new sales tax to fund the Vikings’ proposed stadium in Arden Hills. The speakers against the team's stadium plan overwhelmingly outnumbered the supporters at the first hearing and the feeling amongst most residents in attendance is they should be able to vote on the tax increase. After the second hearing on Oct. 11 the charter commission will vote on whether to post a ballot question before voters for the November 2012 general election. If they decide to put the tax increase to a vote it would likely kill the Vikings’ stadiums plans since it would be hard to imagine citizens voting to increase their taxes during a recession. Minnesota’s inability to get their stadium issue resolved even drew attention from the New York Times this week.
3. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-4)
• Last week: St. Louis lost to the Washington Redskins 17-10 at the Edward Jones Dome. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked seven times and has been sacked 18 times so far this season. The Rams, who trailed 17-0 after three quarters, were booed off the field at halftime for the second straight week and by the time they had made a comeback many fans were already on their way home.
• This week: The Rams have a bye this week, meaning they have one more week to prepare for their game against the undefeated Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers in Lambeau Field.
• L.A. Story: Former Los Angeles Rams linebacker Jack Youngblood was on a media tour this week to promote his new book, Because It Was Sunday, and I asked him what he thought of the chances of seeing the Rams come back to Los Angeles. “Well, [Rams owner] Mr. [Stan] Kroenke is going to do make the best deal in the best interest of his franchise. I know that. He’s a business man and he will do that for the value of his franchise. It’s going to have to be lucrative to leave an established market in St. Louis even though Los Angeles would be even bigger. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”
4. OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-2)
• Last week: Oakland lost to the New England Patriots 31-19 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The game was hyped as the biggest regular season game in Oakland since 2003 and despite playing in front of a sellout crowd at home for the second straight week, the Raiders were never able to keep up with the Patriots and Tom Brady, who threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. On the other end of the spectrum Raider quarterback Jason Campbell threw two interceptions, including gift-wrapping one to Patriots safety Patrick Chung in the end zone with no receivers around him.
• This week: The Raiders play the Houston Oilers in Texas on Sunday and will try not to fall into a hole after losing to the Patriots. It may be easier said than done for a team that hasn’t won more than eight games since 2002, when they last made the Super Bowl, and haven't won more than five games in seven of the past eight seasons. Raiders coach Hue Jackson lit a fire under his players this week by saying this week that the Raiders will win the AFC West this season, despite their two early losses.
• L.A. Story: Los Angeles Raiders fans will be crossing their fingers on Sunday if the end of the Raiders-Texans game is close. They will not only be wishing for their team to pull out a win win but also hoping they can watch the ending live on KCBS 2 in Los Angeles. The Chargers’ game against the Broncos kicks off at 1:15 p.m. and since Los Angeles is the Chargers' secondary market it is contractually obligated to show that game's kickoff but league officials told us recently if the ending of the preceding game is still in doubt they will stick with it until it is over. We’ll see Sunday.