Friday, November 25, 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 (4-6)
Last week: The Chargers lost their fifth straight game of the season to the Chicago Bears. After a 4-1 start to the year, the Chargers now find themselves tied for last place in the AFC West. San Diego fell behind the Bears 31-17 in the third quarter before losing 31-20 and continued their trend of listless second halves in the process. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers also continued his wildly forgettable season by throwing two more interceptions. He now has an NFL-high 17 interceptions to go with six fumbles, by far the most turnovers in the league for a single player.
This week: San Diego’s last win of the season came Oct. 9 in Denver when Tim Tebow came off the bench and replaced Kyle Orton and nearly led the Broncos to a comeback win. The Chargers will now attempt to break their losing streak by beating Tebow and the Broncos again. Since that game San Diego has lost five straight while Tebow has led Denver to a 4-1 record.
L.A. Story: Chargers president Dean Spanos recently said the team’s slump won’t affect their efforts to build a new stadium in San Diego. “A new stadium is a long-term, big-picture benefit for San Diego,” he said. “I think people understand that.” Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani has also continued to say that a new stadium tied to a convention center expansion is the “last and best chance” to keep the Chargers in San Diego. If the Chargers continue to lose and miss the playoffs for the second straight year, their “last and best chance” may already be over before the debate on a new stadium can even begin.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-8)
Last week: The Vikings’ 27-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders was not as close as the final score would indicate. The Raiders were up 27-7 in the fourth quarter before giving up two late touchdowns. Adrian Peterson finished with only 26 yards on six carries and was helped off the field in the second quarter because of an injured left ankle. The loss dropped the Vikings to 2-8 for the first time since 1962.
This week: Minnesota will head to the Georgia Dome on Sunday to play the Atlanta Falcons and Peterson is listed as doubtful for the game with his ankle injury. The Vikings are 3-10 on the road since the last season and if they want to reverse that trend will need to stop the run. Minnesota is allowing an average of 125 rushing yards in its last five games.
L.A. Story: There will be two state Senate hearings on a proposal for the state to help fund a new Vikings stadium. The first hearing will be held Nov. 29 and the second is Dec. 6, both will be held at the Capitol. The hearings will focus on the location of the stadium and how it will be funded. The Vikings have said if they don’t have a resolution on a new stadium by the end of the year they will explore options in other cities as their lease at the Metrodome runs out at the end of this season, leaving them as the only NFL team without a stadium to call home.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (6-4)
Last week: Oakland has continued to shine under new quarterback Carson Palmer, who completed 17 of 23 passes for 164 yards and one touchdown against the Vikings in a 27-21 win. Palmer has looked more comfortable each week in Hue Jackson's system and the offense hasn’t missed a beat with Michael Bush playing instead of the injured Darren McFadden, who could be out two more weeks. Bush rushed for 109 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown against the Vikings.
This week: The Raiders will try to build on their one-game lead atop the AFC West when they play the Chicago Bears on Sunday in Oakland. While Chicago has played as good as any team in the league over the last month, they will enter the game without Jay Cutler, who was lost for the season with a thumb injury last week. Chicago will now lean heavily on running back Matt Forte, who is tied for the league lead with 11 runs of at least 20 yards. The Raiders have allowed an NFL-worst 15 runs of 20 or more yards.
L.A. Story: As much as the Raiders would like to have their own new stadium in Oakland, it seems like if they are to stay in the Bay Area they will do so by moving into the new 49ers stadium. The 49ers are progressing nicely with their new stadium in Santa Clara, with the Santa Clara City Council approving $10 million to prepare the site for construction, which is set to begin in January. The proposed work involves clearing an area next to the Great America amusement park for the $1 billion stadium. Construction on the stadium will begin in early 2013.
4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-8)
Last week: The Rams took a 7-0 lead early on Seattle last week before the Seahawks went on to score the next 24 points and win 24-7 in St. Louis. It was a typical St. Louis loss, filled with little to no offense in the second half and watching Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, who was sacked five times, trying to avoid blitzing defenders. Rams running back Steven Jackson was held to 42 yards on 15 carries while Bradford, who is having a miserable sophomore campaign, completed just 20 of 40 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
This week: St. Louis plays the Arizona Cardinals in St. Louis. Cardinals quarterback John Skelton will be the starting quarterback after Kevin Kolb developed turf toe in his right foot following Arizona's loss Oct. 30 in Baltimore. Skelton actually made his debut Nov. 6 against St. Louis and threw the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game Arizona would win in overtime. That loss prevented what could have been a three-game winning streak for St. Louis. As it was, the hard-luck loss came to define the Rams' season so far.
L.A. Story: The pressure is on the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission to come up with an acceptable financing proposal for renovations to the Edward Jones Dome (the deadline is Feb. 1). But there is no way the stadium, no matter how many refurbishments, will be on par with the over $1 billion stadiums built for the Cowboys, Giants and Jets. Can St. Louis afford to build a $1 billion domed stadium on par with those facilities? Probably not. So what should be done to keep the Rams from possibly leaving town and going back to Los Angeles after their lease is up in 2014? St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz says "nothing," and as long as the Rams keep losing, it’s hard to imagine the disgruntled fans disagreeing with him.