Saturday, December 10, 2011
NFL@LA Four Corner
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 (5-7)
Last week: The Chargers finally snapped their six-game losing streak with a 38-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Finally playing against a team dealing with more drama than San Diego (new coach, new owner), Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers finally broke out of the funk he’s been in since the opening weekend by completing 22 of 28 passes for 294 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. It took 11 weeks but it was the first glimpse at the Rivers that Chargers fans thought they would see this season.
This week: San Diego may have snapped its longest losing streak in a decade but they still haven’t won a game at home since Oct. 2. The Chargers will try to break that streak on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, another team in the midst of a slide. The Bills, which started the season 3-0, are now 5-7 after losing their last five games. If Rivers plays like he did Monday night, it will likely be six straight for Buffalo.
L.A. Story: Despite the Chargers’ win Monday night, the apathy surrounding the Chargers in San Diego following the team’s six-game losing streak remains. Sunday’s game between the Chargers and Bills will be blacked out in Southern California because 5,000 tickets remained unsold 72 hours before kickoff. To be fair, even if the Chargers were in L.A. a battle between two 5-7 teams probably would not sell out either.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-10)
Last week: The Vikings’ 35-32 loss to the Denver Broncos was Minnesota’s fourth straight loss and dropped them to 2-10, their worst record since 1962. Minnesota held a 29-21 lead with nine minutes to go in the game but it seems no lead is safe when facing Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow this season and, well, the Vikings haven’t exactly been able to keep many leads this season.
This week: Minnesota will head to Detroit on Sunday to play the 7-5 Lions, who are looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses on national television. The Vikings’ defense, which made Tebow look like a Pro Bowler, should be the perfect tonic for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is fifth in the league with 3,527 passing yards and fourth with 27 touchdowns. Meanwhile the Vikings are tied for 26th in the league in pass defense and have allowed an NFL-worst 24 touchdown passes.
L.A. Story: Minneapolis city leaders this week endorsed a proposal to rebuild a new Vikings stadium at the current site of the Metrodome. They claim it would be $215 million cheaper than the team’s preferred plan to build a $1.1 billion stadium in Arden Hills. The problem with this plan is the Vikings are saying it’s either their proposed stadium in Arden Hills or nothing at all, just as the Chargers are saying it’s a downtown stadium built in conjunction with a convention center expansion or nothing. After seeing plan after plan fail over the past decade, both teams are adamant that their current proposal is the only viable solution. Any other proposal is a nonstarter.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (7-5)
Last week: Oakland’s three-game winning streak game to a crashing halt in Miami as the Dolphins embarrassed the Raiders, 34-14, in a game Miami led 34-0 with less than 8 minutes left. The Raiders rushed for only 46 total yards as a team and the Raiders defense made Dolphins running back Reggie Bush look like he was back at USC as he rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown.
This week: Things don’t get any easier for the Raiders who travel to Lambeau Field on Sunday to play the 12-0 Green Bay Packers. If the Raiders defense made Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore look like an All-Pro, how do you think they will look against Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers? The Packers are averaging a league-best 35.0 points per game and are 42 points away from breaking the single-season franchise record of 461 set two years ago. They’ll probably set the record Sunday against Oakland, which is 27th in scoring defense, allowing 25.7 points per game.
L.A. Story: The 49ers long pursuit of building a new stadium in Santa Clara finally crossed a major hurdle last week when the city of Santa Clara secured a pledge from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch and U.S. Bank for $850 million, which would help finance the $1.1 billion stadium. The question now is will the Raiders be able to call the stadium home too. The NFL wants a new Bay Area stadium to house both the Raiders and 49ers like MetLife Stadium holds the Giants and Jets. Whether or not the 49ers are open to that possibility is still in question. The eventual answer will go a long way in deciding the Raiders’ future home, whether it be in Northern or Southern California.
4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-10)
Last week: The Rams were shutout in a 26-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. The win allowed the 49ers to clinch the NFC West and the Rams to clinch their fourth double digit loss season in the past five years. It was a depressing day on both sides of the ball for the Rams as quarterback A.J. Feely threw for 156 yards and an interception and the Rams as a team rushed for a combined 31 yards on 23 carries.
This week: St. Louis travels to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Last season this was a match-up between two 7-9 teams vying for the division title and a home playoff game and this season it’s a match-up between two teams which were essentially eliminated from the playoffs in November thanks to the 49ers’ 10-2 start. The Rams may have to go with third stringer Tom Brandstater at quarterback if Feeley and Sam Bradford, as expected, are unable to play. Brandstater was activated from the practice squad last week and has never taken an NFL snap. So, you have that going for you Rams fans, which is nice.
L.A. Story: So St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols, who was arguably the pride and joy of St. Louis for the past decade, packed up his bags and moved to Anaheim this week. This may not make up for the Rams moving in 1994 but could it be a precursor of things to come? Los Angeles Rams sure hope so.