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Friday, November 11, 2011
NFL@LA 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 (4-5)

Last week: The preseason Super Bowl match-up some had predicted in the preseason between the Chargers and the Green Bay Packers lived up to expectations with Green Bay winning a thrilling 45-38 shootout in the rain. Unfortunately for Chargers fans, Philip Rivers has yet to live up to expectations this season. He threw three interceptions in the game, including one on the game’s final drive to tie and send it into overtime. Two of his interceptions were returned for touchdowns and the third almost was returned for a touchdown as well before Packers safety Charlie Peprah was pushed out at the six-yard line to end the game.

This week: The Chargers' fall for grace continued Thursday night as San Diego lost its fourth game in a row, this time to Oakland Raiders at home, 24-17. The nationally televised game was for first place in the AFC West and once again Rivers failed to step up to the occasion, throwing an interception and fumbling the ball on San Diego’s last two drives attempting to tie the game.

L.A. Story: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders on Thursday before the game to discuss where the city is with the Chargers’ plans for a new downtown stadium. The league would like the Chargers to remain in San Diego but Goodell admitted Qualcomm Stadium, in addition to the stadiums in San Francisco and Oakland, need to be drastically renovated or completely replaced for the teams to be financially competitive. “The three stadiums in California certainly are not up to the standards we’re seeing in the rest of the NFL or, frankly, other sports,” he said. “[Stadiums] are expensive projects. They take a public and private partnership and the players have recognized that and are contributing to that.”Asked about the prospect of the Chargers moving to Los Angeles, Goodell took the same stance the league always takes when L.A. comes up. “Until there's an appropriate solution in Los Angeles,” he said. “There won’t be a team there.”

2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-6)

Last week: Minnesota had a bye last week.

This week: The Vikings will travel to Lambeau Field for Monday Night Football to play the 8-0 Green Bay Packers. Christian Ponder kept the Vikings competitive against the Packers in his first start, a 33-27 loss, three weeks ago. Then again, that was inside the Metrodome. How the rookie fares in the rain in Green Bay is a different story. The Packers are off to their best start since winning 10 straight in 1962 and are averaging an NFL-high 34.4 points per game this season.

L.A. Story: The odds of the Vikings getting their stadium situation resolved in the near future seems as bleak as their playoff hopes this season. While legislators continue to say state funds will not be used on the proposed stadium in Ramsey County, Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said Thursday the team would spend significantly less than the $400 million it has pledged to the Ramsey County stadium proposal if the stadium is built elsewhere. Meanwhile Ramsey County officials said Thursday that they have a deal with the federal government to buy the 430-acre parcel in Arden Hills where the Vikings want to build their stadium and have until August 1, 2012 to cancel the purchase without penalty if no stadium deal comes together. It seems clear now that if the Vikings don’t find a stadium solution by 2012 in Minnesota they will be leaving the state by February 2013.

3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (5-4)

Last week: Despite throwing three touchdowns, Carson Palmer threw three interceptions in his second straight game for the Raiders, as Oakland lost 38-24 to the Denver Broncos. The Raiders were up 24-14 in the third quarter but gave up 24 unanswered points the rest of the way and made Tim Tebow look like a decent NFL starting quarterback along the way as he threw two touchdown passes and ran for 117 yards.

This week: Despite two bad division losses at home following the Palmer trade, the Raiders found themselves all alone atop the AFC West after beating the Chargers 24-17 at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night. Palmer not only had his best game as a Raider but one of his better games in the last five years, completing 14-of-20 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was rookie receiver Denarius Moore, who had five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.

L.A. Story: Although the future of the Raiders in Oakland is still up in the air after the death of Al Davis and the uncertainty over how Mark Davis plans to run the team, NBA.com wrote this week about the close relationship Al Davis had with Magic Johnson. Davis would send Johnson “hand-written notes of appreciation for what Johnson meant to sports.” Johnson, who was a Los Angeles Raiders season ticket holder, would love to bring the Raiders back to Los Angeles as a part owner. Whether or not his partners, AEG and Casey Wasserman, would be on board with that is still unknown although AEG did have talks with Davis before he passed last month.

4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (1-7)

Last week: St. Louis looked like it was in position to win its second straight game before falling to the Arizona Cardinals, 19-13, in overtime. The Rams held a 13-6 lead with less than five minutes to go in the game and Josh Brown’s 42-yard field goal to win the game at the end of regulation was blocked. In overtime, Patrick Peterson’s 99-yard punt return won the game for the Cardinals.

This week: The Rams will travel to Cleveland to play the 3-5 Browns on Sunday. The game plan for the Rams will be simple. Continue playing the same defense they have the last two weeks (they allowed a season-low 262 yards while giving up less than 300 for the second straight game) while finally scoring a touchdown on offense. The Rams failed to score a touchdown for the second time this season and their already paltry scoring average is now down to 12.5 points per game.

L.A. Story: You can add actor Billy Bob Thornton to the names of those hoping the Rams return to Los Angeles. In an interview with the Examiner.com this week, the Academy Award winner said, “I would hope they would maybe get the Rams back out here. That’s what I would like to see more than anything else. I would really like to see the Rams here, honestly. I believe the Raiders are good where they are. I like watching the Raiders now because they have Darren McFadden, who’s an ex Razorback, but at the same time I’m a traditionalist and I love to see that yellow horn back on the side of the helmet down here.”