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 (4-3)
Last week: Now this is the San Diego team Chargers fans have grown to know and loathe at the beginning of the season over the past ten years. After a 4-1 start, the Chargers have lost their last two games late thanks to turnovers by quarterback Philip Rivers. Against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football, Rivers fumbled a snap at the Kansas City 15-yard line while trying to run down the clock for a game-winning field goal. The Chargers ended up losing 23-20 in overtime and now the Chargers find themselves in a three-way tie with the Chiefs and Raiders for first place in the AFC West.
This week: The Chargers will try to break out of their funk at home against the Green Bay Packers. It won’t be easy for the Chargers to avoid slipping to 4-4 considering the Super Bowl champions have won 16 straight going back to last season and are off to their best start (7-0) since 1962. If the Chargers are to pull the upset Rivers will have to start playing like his old self. He has thrown 11 interceptions this season, the highest in the league, and his 80.7 passer rating ranks 19th.
L.A. Story: It’s early in the season but if the Chargers fall to 4-4 on Sunday and Rivers doesn’t regain his old form, the team’s prospects of gaining public support for a new stadium will get bleaker and bleaker. It’s already a long shot to think the public is going to largely fund a new downtown stadium but if the Chargers could at least get to the Super Bowl maybe they could get the same support the Padres did for Petco Park when they made it to World Series in 1998. If the Chargers, however, flame out and miss the playoffs altogether like they did last year, their slim shot at a new stadium may be completely erased as they look to move north after the 2012 season.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-6)
Last week: Minnesota won its second game of the season, beating the Carolina Panthers, 24-21 last Sunday. Christian Poder completed 18 of 28 passes for 236 yards and one touchdown to get his first professional win. Yes, the win came against the 2-6 Panthers and fellow rookie quarterback Cam Newton but the way this season has gone for the Vikings, they’ll take the wins anyway they can get them.
This week: The Vikings have a bye this week and will face the Green Bay Packers next Monday night at Lambeau Field.
L.A. Story: Things got ugly this week in Minneapolis where legislators said they would not vote on financing for the Vikings' new stadium this year, the Vikings saying such a delay would leave them as the only NFL team without a lease after this season and force them to look elsewhere and the Metrodome saying the Vikings are obligated to play in the stadium next year after the team was forced to play two games elsewhere last year after the roof of the dome collapsed. There is a clause in their lease that triggers an extension if there is a shortened season. The Vikings, of course, are arguing if the roof of the Metrodome hadn’t collapsed there would have been no need to play elsewhere. Long story short, the Vikings aren’t getting a stadium resolution until 2012 at the earliest and if they don’t get one by then, they will likely move west like the Minneapolis Lakers did over 50 years ago.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (4-3)
Last week: Oakland was off last week but the Raiders now find themselves tied with the Chargers and Chiefs for first place in the AFC West.
This week: The Denver Broncos and the Tim Tebow show come to Oakland on Sunday as the Raiders try to get their first win under Carson Palmer. The former USC quarterback not only got an extra week to learn the playbook and work with his teammates but he will have a familiar target on the field this week after the team signed receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh. The two played together in Cincinnati and worked out together in the off-season and even during the season as Palmer held out and Houshmanzadeh waited to be signed. Darren McFadden, however, was still on crutches this week and won’t play Sunday.
L.A. Story: Raiders fan in Los Angeles will need NFL Sunday Ticket or be forced to go to a sports bar on Sunday to watch the Raiders-Broncos game as CBS 2 in Los Angeles will show the New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game at 10 a.m. while FOX 11 will be airing a double-header this week with San Francisco 49ers-Washington Redskins at 10 a.m. and the New York Giants-New England Patriots at 1 p.m. Yes, that also means Chargers fans wanting to watch the Chargers-Packers must also have NFL Sunday Ticket or go somewhere that does to watch the game.
4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (1-6)
Last week: In what was perhaps the upset of the NFL season so far, the winless Rams beat the New Orleans Saints, 31-21, after taking a 24-0 lead in the third quarter. The previous week the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 62-7. In an odd stat, three of the last four NFL teams which have scored 62 points have lost the next week. Rams running back Stephen Jackson broke out in the win for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries.
This week: The Rams will play the 1-6 Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday. St. Louis started the season 0-6 but it may have had more to do with how good their opponents were. The combined record of the Rams' first seven opponents was 31-19, and the next four are 7-21. The Rams might also get back Sam Bradford, who missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain. Bradford, who has been sacked a NFL-high 21 times, practiced this week but the Rams will be careful before putting him behind one of the worst offensive lines in football.
L.A. Story: Rams owner Stan Kroenke has been careful not to indicate exactly how he feels about the long-term viability of the Rams in St. Louis and the Edward Jones Dome but he made some interesting comments to reporters while he was in London talking about Arsenal, the English Premier League team he owns.
“London is a great place and a great market," he said. "Comparably in the US, you would talk about Los Angeles and New York. There was a study done in the States and if you ask any 20- to 30-year-old person where they would most like to live if they didn't live where they presently lived, they will tell you L.A. and New York. It's interesting because players are a lot of times 20-30 years old, so where are they most likely to gravitate? If you ask players in the US, they'll say being in L.A. or New York is a pretty good place to be for 20-30 year olds. So those markets to me have an inherent advantage as far as recruiting. Maybe that's just me, but I think London is a great place to be. I think, long-term, if you want to attract players, it is a great place to me.”
So, would moving the Rams back to L.A., be in the best interest of the team long-term, if Kroenke wants to attract players?