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Friday, September 30, 2011
From the Four Corners

By Arash Markazi

Each Friday we will update you on the four NFL teams most likely 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 (2-1)

" Last week: San Diego beat the Kansas City Chiefs 20-17 at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chiefs had lost their first two games by a combined score of 89-10 and had been outscored 74-14 in their last two games in San Diego but the Chargers simply couldn’t put the winless Chiefs away. It wasn’t until Chargers safety Eric Weddle intercepted Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel at midfield with 55 seconds left that they clinched the win and only their second 2-1 start since 2006.

" This week: The Chargers get to face another winless team at Qualcomm (both of their wins have come at home against the winless Minnesota Vikings and Chiefs) when they play the Miami Dolphins on Sunday and try to move to 3-1 for only the second time since 2002. Miami’s 30th ranked defense may be exactly what Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers needs to break out of the funk he’s been in. Rivers has thrown six interceptions through the first three games of the season; the most interceptions he has thrown during any three-game stretch in his career.

" L.A. Story: Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani sounded as excited as AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke about California Gov. Jerry Brown signing SB 292 and AB 900 on Tuesday, two bills that will expedite legal challenges to big-ticket statewide projects such as stadiums and arenas. Fabiani is hoping the bill will expedite challenges to his proposed Chargers stadium and convention center expansion in downtown San Diego. Although expediting legal challenges is the least of Fabiani’s worries. First he has to get politicians, citizens, hoteliers and the convention center behind his plan to scrap the current convention center expansion and get behind a dual stadium/convention center project and find a way to finance it. I guess, once he get past those hurdles and an environmental impact report he can get excited about expediting legal challenges.

2. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-3)

" Last week: St. Louis lost to Baltimore Ravens 37-7 at the Edward Jones Dome. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked five times and didn’t get his team on the scoreboard until late in the third quarter when the dome was already beginning clear out. Some fans even left at the half when St. Louis had six punts and an interception while putting up just 81 yards. Players were booed on their way to the locker room at halftime and after the game.

" This week: The Rams will play the Washington Redskins this Sunday in St. Louis.  If the Rams want to have any chance at winning their first game of the season they will have to improve on defense. Steve Spagnuolo made his mark as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants before coming to St. Louis but his defenses are allowing 440.7 yards per game, making them the NFC's worst unit.

" L.A. Story: The local media in St. Louis is beginning to take note of the progress being made on a new stadium in Los Angeles while the “Bring Back the Los Angeles Rams” group took the show on the road to Cowboys Stadium on Monday night. I’m sure that made both Rams and Cowboys fans nostalgic for the days when Vin Scully was calling Cowboys-Rams playoff games.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-3)

" Last week: Minnesota lost to the Detroit Lions 26-23 at the Metrodome in Minnesota. The Vikings squandered a 20-0 third quarter lead after losing a 17-0 third quarter lead to Tampa Bay last week. So far this season the Vikings have been outscored 67-6 after halftime and have blown double-digit third quarter leads in each game.

" This week: Well, something has to give this weekend as the winless Vikings travel to play the winless Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. If the Vikings can find a way to play the way they do in the first half, where they have outscored opponents 54-7, in the second half, they have a shot. Two years removed from opening 6-0 and winning a second straight division title, the Vikings, one of five winless teams in the league, are now 0-3 for the first time in nine years.

" L.A. Story: The Ramsey County Charter Commission held the first of two public hearings over the next two weeks on proposed ballot language that could prevent the county from using a new sales tax to fund the Vikings’ proposed stadium in Arden Hills. If the first hearing is any indication of things to come the Vikings could be in big trouble. The speakers against the team's stadium plan overwhelmingly outnumbered the supporters at the 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. Again, as we told you before, AEG is keeping a very close eye on this situation and informing Vikings ownership of their progress.

4. OAKLAND RAIDERS (2-1)

" Last week: Oakland beat the New York Jets 34-24 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. After blowing a 21-3 lead in the third quarter last week to the Buffalo Bills, the Raiders came back from a 17-7 deficit to beat the Jets. Darren McFadden led the way, becoming only the third player to rush for 100 or more yards against the Jets in the Rex Ryan era. He rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns, the best day a tailback has had against the Jets in over two years. As a team the Raiders rushed for 234 yards on 32 carries and scored 4 touchdowns.

" This week: The Raiders play the New England Patriots in Oakland this weekend in arguably the biggest home game Oakland has had since 2003. Even though it’s early in the season, you get the feeling a win against New England and a 3-1 start could jumpstart something big in Oakland. Raiders’ fans are feeling it too. The Raiders sold out just one game each of the past two seasons and have already sold out their first two home games this season.

" L.A. Story: Los Angeles Raiders fans will actually get to watch their team play this weekend after getting force fed Chargers games the past two weeks. Since the Chargers-Dolphins game didn’t sell out, it will be blacked out in Southern California meaning Raiders fans in Los Angeles will be able to watch their team play the Patriots from the comfort of their own home.