NFL@L.A.: New England Patriots

From the Four Corners

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
7:37
AM PT
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.

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Chargers-Dolphins blacked out

September, 29, 2011
9/29/11
2:48
PM PT
Oakland Raiders fans in Los Angeles won’t have to worry about the San Diego Chargers getting in the way of them watching their team play the New England Patriots on Sunday.

The Chargers’ home game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday has been blacked out in Southern California after 6,500 tickets remained unsold as of Thursday afternoon.

The NFL requires all games not sold out 72 hours prior to kickoff to be blacked out in the local market, which includes all signals within a 75-mile radius of the stadium.

KCBS 2 in Los Angeles announced it would feature a double-header Sunday with the Pittsburgh Steelers-Houston Texans game at 10 a.m. followed by the Raiders-Patriots game at 1 p.m.

Fans in the blackout area will be able to see a replay of the Chargers-Dolphins game on NFL.com beginning at midnight Sunday.

The Chargers just barely avoided a blackout last week when it sold 5,000 tickets just before the deadline. Despite the announced sell out there were still thousands of empty seats at the game and tickets were still available at the box office on game day.

Wrap-up: Raiders 34, Jets 24

September, 25, 2011
9/25/11
5:50
PM PT
A look at a tremendous victory for the Raiders.

What it means: This was a monumental win for the Oakland organization. The Raiders accomplished much Sunday. First, they learned to finish a game. The Raiders gave up 35 points in the second half at Buffalo last week. Yet, this week, against a strong Jets’ team, the Raiders came back from a 17-7 deficit and took over the game. They had an impressive drive late in the game to seal the win. In the end, the Raiders, who were 2-8 outside the AFC West last year, showed they can beat a quality AFC opponent. If the Raiders are in the playoff conversation in December, this game will be looked upon as a catalyst.

Tomorrow’s talker: That was a very good defense Oakland just torched. The Raiders’ offense is playing great. It has scored 69 points in the past two games. Head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders are doing a terrific job. It doesn’t hurt to have Darren McFadden. He had 170 yards on 19 carries, McFadden is a legitimate threat to win the NFL rushing title this season.

Trending: Oakland kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who tied the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal in Week 1, is getting better with age. In 13th NFL season, Janikowski is bombs away. He nailed field goals of 54 and 49 yards. To have that type of a consistent weapon is going to help this offense.

What’s next: The Raiders host New England, fresh off a frustrating loss at Buffalo. What are the odds of Tom Brady throwing four more interceptions next week?

From the four corners

September, 23, 2011
9/23/11
2:12
PM PT
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 (1-1)

Last week: San Diego lost to the New England Patriots 35-21 at Gillete Stadium in Foxborough. Despite turning the ball over four times to New England’s zero, the Chargers were only down 28-21 with five minutes left but were unable to stop Tom Brady who threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns. The turning point in the game came in the second quarter when the Chargers failed to convert on a fourth down run from New England’s 1-yard line and then watched the Patriots go down the field on a 99-yard touchdown drive. For the second week in a row Philip Rivers threw two interceptions inside the opponent’s 30-yard line.

This week: The Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Chiefs have lost their first two games by a combined score of 89-10. The lopsided score is likely to get worse this weekend considering the Chargers have outscored Kansas City 74-14 in winning the last two meetings in San Diego.

L.A. Story: Chargers special counsel Mark Fabiani is still pushing for a downtown stadium in San Diego that would be tied to the San Diego Convention Center expansion. Last month we explained why this idea was a long shot at best and with the San Diego City Council budget committee only listening to ideas about a convention expansion sans a stadium this week, Fabiani has to wonder if his idea will ever be anything more than just that. “We’re hoping this idea at least gets debated before people kill it off without any public discussion,” Fabiani told KPBS. “But this is San Diego, so we’ll have to see how it turns out.”


2. ST. LOUIS RAMS (0-2)

Last week: St. Louis lost to the New York Giants 28-16 on Monday Night Football at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was under pressure all night, culminating in a fumble in the second quarter which was recovered by Giants linebacker Michael Boley and returned for a 65-yard touchdown. New York controlled the game after that and continued to punish Bradford, who was pressured on 14 of his 49 dropbacks and finished with a quarterback rating of 79.2.

This week: Bradford is expected to see plenty of more pressure this Sunday in St. Louis when the Rams play the Baltimore Ravens. But which Ravens team will show up? Will it be the teams that pummeled the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener, 35-7, or the one that lost to the Tennessee Titans last week, 26-13?

L.A. Story: When Rams owner Stan Kroenke was asked about the Rams stadium situation by the St. Louis Post Dispatch he was noncommittal and “politely declined to discuss the stadium situation.” The Rams can get out of their lease agreement with the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission after the 2014 season if the Edward Jones Dome doesn’t rank amongst the top quarter of stadiums in the NFL. The commission has until Feb. 1 to give the Rams a preliminary proposal for how it plans to give the Dome "top-tier" status.

3. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (0-2)

Last week: Minnesota lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24-20 in the home opener at the Metrodome in Minnesota. The Vikings squandered a 17-0 third quarter lead to Tampa Bay and were outscored 24-3 after halftime. The past two weeks the Vikings have been outscored 41-3 after halftime and blew double-digit third quarter leads in both games.

This week: Normally a home game against the Detroit Lions is the perfect tonic to a slump but Detroit is 2-0 this season and looking to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 1980. Two years removed from opening 6-0 and winning a second straight division crown, the Vikings, one of seven winless teams in the league, will try not to fall to 0-3 for the first time in nine years.

L.A. Story: This week Lester Bagley, Vikings vice president of public affairs and stadium development, told us he has been in contact with AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke, who has been providing the Vikings with updates on Farmers Field. The Vikings want to get a new stadium deal in Minnesota before their Metrodome lease runs out after this season but the fate of their stadium proposal in Arden Hills could rest on whether residents in Ramsey County will be able to vote on a proposed sales tax to help fund the Arden Hills stadium. If they are able to vote on it and reject the tax hike as expected, the stadium deal would die. “That’s our plan A,” Bagley said. “We don’t have a plan B.”

4. OAKLAND RAIDERS (1-1)

Last week: Oakland lost to the Buffalo Bills 38-35 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. The Raiders lost a 21-3 lead in the third quarter as the Bills scored three unanswered touchdowns to start the second half and Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick connected with David Nelson for a six-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 14 seconds left to beat the Raiders.

This week: The Raiders welcome to the New York Jets to the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum for their home opener this Sunday, looking to bounce back from last week’s second half collapse. If they are to turn things around they will have to shore up a porous defense which has allowed 223 rushing yards and 481 overall yards the last two weeks.

L.A. Story: Los Angeles Raiders fans missed the final 27 seconds of the Raiders-Bills game due to NFL television rules which have state that Los Angeles as a “secondary market” for the San Diego Chargers “must carry in their entirety all road games of their local team." The NFL, as we reported Thursday, has now decided to soften their stance and will likely show the ending of future close games before switching to a Chargers road game again.

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TEAM LEADERS

PASSING
Philip Rivers
ATT COMP YDS TD
544 378 4478 32
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
R. Mathews 285 1255 4.4 6
D. Woodhead 106 429 4.0 2
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
K. Allen 71 1046 14.7 8
A. Gates 77 872 11.3 4