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 (4-5)
Last week: The Chargers’ fall from grace continued last Thursday night as San Diego lost its fourth game in a row, this time to Oakland Raiders at home, 24-17. The nationally televised game was for first place in the AFC West and once again Philip Rivers failed to step up to the occasion, throwing an interception and fumbling the ball on San Diego’s last two drives to tie the game.
This week: San Diego now travels to Soldier Field to play a 6-3 Chicago Bears team which has won four games in a row. Last week the Bears beat the Detroit Lions 37-13 and Chicago’s defense forced six turnovers, its most since 1995, and kept the Lions out of the end zone until late in the fourth quarter. During the Bears’ four-game winning streak they have forced 12 turnovers while the Chargers have turned the ball over 11 times during their four-game slide.
L.A. Story: While the latest schematics were revealed for Farmers Field this week, the Chargers still have yet to show any kind of artist renderings for their proposed retractable roof stadium and convention center expansion in downtown San Diego. The Chargers, however, could take a page out of the Farmers Field book for those in San Diego skeptical of building a roofed stadium in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Farmers Field will feature a “deployable” roof that would only be used when needed for conventions and events like the Final Four but would be an open-air stadium. Tim Romani, president and CEO of ICON Venue Group, said the design could only work in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego where the weather is usually nice and easy to predict.
2. MINNESOTA VIKINGS (2-7)
Last week: The Vikings’ forgettable season was on display for the country to see at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football when Minnesota lost to the Green Bay Packers 45-7. The Packers held Christian Ponder to 190 yards passing with an interception and Adrian Peterson finished with only 51 yards and a touchdown. Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn had almost as much success as the entire Vikings offense, running for a touchdown for good measure at the end of the game.
This week: Minnesota tries to recover from its worst loss since the 2001 NFC championship game against the Oakland Raiders. The Vikings’ defense is giving up 27.1 points per game, second-most in the NFL, while Oakland is fourth in the league in rushing yards with an average of 156.2 yards per game.
L.A. Story: The plans for a new Vikings’ stadium is moving along, albeit slowly. The Ramsey County Board approved purchasing 430 acres in suburban Arden Hills where the Vikings want to build a $1.1 billion stadium. The only hiccup in the plan is the team is asking for a partial subsidy from the state but Republican leaders in Minnesota said this week that they will listen to comments from the public on the Vikings stadium issue at two all-day hearings on Nov. 29 and Dec. 6 in an effort to finalize a bill to help finance the stadium.
3. OAKLAND RAIDERS (5-4)
Last week: Despite two bad division losses at home after making the trade for Carson Palmer, the Raiders now find themselves all alone atop the AFC West after beating the Chargers 24-17 at Qualcomm Stadium last Thursday night. Palmer not only had his best game as a Raider but one of his better games in the last five years, completing 14 of 20 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was rookie receiver Denarius Moore, who had five catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
This week: The Raiders will try to build on their lead when they travel to Minnesota to play the struggling Vikings. Oakland will still be without injured running back Darren McFadden but the Raiders’ running game hasn’t missed much with Michael Bush. Oakland is fourth in the NFL with 156.2 yards rushing, including a 145.5 average in the last two games without McFadden. The Raiders haven’t been in first place this late in the season since 2002, when they last made it to the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
L.A. Story: Raiders fans in Los Angeles will get to see their team play the Vikings on KCBS 2 on Sunday and as we’ve reported before, if the game is close late, the NFL has decided KCBS will stick with the game instead of switching to the Chargers-Bears game, which the station will air a 1 p.m. The Chargers are deemed Los Angeles' local team and therefore a secondary market because its affiliates' TV signals reach within 75 miles of the Chargers stadium and is required to show road games in their entirety. But after the station left the Raiders-Buffalo Bills game before it was decided in September, the league decided to change how it handles the Los Angeles market.
4. ST. LOUIS RAMS (2-7)
Last week: The Rams haven’t been very lucky this season but they finally got some good fortune last week when Cleveland Browns kicker Phil Dawson missed a 22-yard game-winning field goal to give the Rams a 13-12 win in Cleveland. There were a total of six field goals made by both teams in one of the ugliest games of the season. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford finished with 155 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception while Stephen Jackson rushed for 128 yards on 27 carries.
This week: St. Louis plays Pete Carroll’s Seattle Seahawks this Sunday and thoughts of these two losing teams playing for a division title and home playoff game last year with a 7-9 record seem like a distant memory as they look up to the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers. The biggest difference for the Rams has been the play of Bradford, who threw 17 touchdowns in his first 11 career starts, but has only thrown five touchdown passes in his last 12 games.
L.A. Story: Los Angeles Rams legend Jack Youngblood is continuing his book tour this week with a signing in Tampa, Florida on Saturday but Youngblood will be back in St. Louis before the end of this season for another book signing. The Rams got in touch with Youngblood after he told us the Rams had forgotten about its Los Angeles players and heritage and the team would like Youngblood to attend a game when he is in town.