Friday, December 2, 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 (4-7)
Last week: The Chargers lost their sixth straight game, their longest losing streak in a decade, as Tim Tebow once again worked his magic in leading the Denver Broncos to a 16-13 overtime win. The Chargers jumped out to 10-0 lead in the second quarter but as has been the case this season, they were unable to close it in the second half. Philip Rivers was a non-factor in the second half and in overtime. The struggling quarterback has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions during San Diego’s six-game losing streak.
This week: San Diego might finally get a chance to break their slide against another team rumored to be coming to Los Angeles in the Jacksonville Jaguars when they square off on Monday Night Football. It will be the first game for the Jaguars since Wayne Weaver announced he was selling the team to Shahid Khan. It will also be the Jaguars first game under new coach Mel Tucker, who replaced Jack Del Rio. The Chargers may be looking for a new coach soon as well if Norv Turner isn’t able to turn this season around after missing the playoffs last year.
L.A. Story: San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders listed his 2012 priorities before he left office in November and they were to eliminate the city’s budget deficit, expand the convention center, improve Balboa Park, and get the Chargers a new stadium. The problem is the only way for the Chargers to get a new stadium according to team officials is if it’s tied to a convention center expansion which is something the Sanders is not on board with. In fact, he believes both are on two separate tracks. As long as that remains the case it seems like the convention center expansion will go through while the Chargers stadium will remain stuck in neutral.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-9)
Last week: The Vikings’ 24-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons was the team's third straight loss and dropped Minnesota to 2-9 for the first time since 1962. The Vikings fell behind 17-0 late in the third quarter and were never really in the game. The Vikings without Adrian Peterson only rushed for 64 total yards on 24 carries while Christian Ponder did his best to keep the team competitive, completing 17 of 25 passes for 186 yards and 1 touchdown.
This week: Minnesota will welcome the Denver Broncos and the Tim Tebow show to the Metrodome this week. While Tebow looks to win his fifth straight game, the Vikings will try to break their losing streak without Peterson, who is out for a second straight game. Minnesota will also be without Donovan McNabb after the team released their former starting quarterback this week at his request.
L.A. Story: Even though there is a budget surplus in Minnesota, key lawmakers said this week that it would not influence a new Vikings stadium. An announced $876 million windfall would have no impact on the stadium debate, Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch told the Pioneer Press this week. House Minority Leader Paul Thissen agreed that the budget forecast is unrelated to the stadium finance discussion, calling them "totally separate issues." Of course that didn’t stop Lester Bagley, the Vikings' vice president of public affairs and stadium development, from saying the forecast was “should also help advance the stadium discussion.”
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-4)
Last week: Oakland won its third straight game under quarterback Carson Palmer and is in sole possession of first place in the AFC West after a 25-20 win over the Chicago Bears. It wasn’t pretty but Sebastian Janikowski kicked a team-record six field goals and Shane Lechler’s punting, highlighted by an 80-yard kick, neutralized Devin Hester, giving Oakland its first win at home since Oct. 16.
This week: The Raiders travel to Florida this week to face a surging Miami Dolphins team that started the season 0-7. Oakland has found a way to continue winning despite playing without Darren McFadden, Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore. Palmer has thrown for close to 300 yards in the three of the last four games and will face a Miami secondary that ranks 24th against the pass, allowing an average of 248.1 yards per game.
L.A. Story: Ice Cube, who directed the ESPN 30 For 30 film, “Straight Outta L.A.” took to Twitter this week to pitch his own idea for the Raiders’ return to Los Angeles. “We need the Raiders to move back to L.A.” he tweeted. “Raiders. 4 games in Oakland. 4 games in L.A. I'll take it.” While that would never happen if Mark Davis is willing to sell the Raiders perhaps the team will return to Los Angeles full-time.
4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-9)
Last week: Second verse, same as the first. Cardinals rookie corner back Patrick Peterson once again returned a punt for a touchdown against the Rams to lead the Cardinals to 23-20 win over St Louis. Peterson tied a NFL record with his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season. Three weeks ago his 99-yard return in overtime beat the Rams. St. Louis lost its second straight game as Steven Jackson struggled to gain 64 yards on 16 carries.
This week: Things don’t get any easier for the Rams this week as they travel to San Francisco to face the 9-2 49ers at Candlestick Park. While the 49ers will try to be the first team in the league to clinch their division, the Rams are just trying to produce a highlight or two to another wise nightmarish season that will probably end in a coaching change at the end of the year.
L.A. Story: When Shahid Khan, who failed to buy the St. Louis Rams, bought the Jacksonville Jaguars this week many thought they were headed to Los Angeles but Pro Football Talk reported that one possible scenario could see the Rams moving back to Los Angeles and the Jaguars moving to St. Louis. One executive with a team other than the Jaguars told the website this week, “People that I trust think there is a chance [Rams owner] Stan Kroenke moves the Rams to L.A. and [Shahid] Khan moves to St. Louis.”