The NFL (and TV networks) thought so much of the Battle of LA that they pulled it off of primetime Sunday night and made it a late afternoon window game.
It will be the first time the Los Angeles Chargers face the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium, the stadium both franchises call home, so at least that’s something….but playing in two separate conferences, aside from sharing a home field (and the colors blue and yellow), the rivalry is meh.
The Chargers have a lot to play for. They’re currently the sixth seed in the AFC playoffs and have clinched a spot, but have a chance to bump up to five if they can get past the Ravens. They want to get past the Ravens because if you’re the Chargers you’d rather face the Titans or Jaguars in the first round than the Bengals.
So the Chargers are playing to win.
Chargers coach Brandon Staley said Monday:
“I think our goal as a team is to treat every week like a playoff game, like the Super Bowl in terms of the approach. You treat it like it has a life of its own. The type of attention to detail, the type of energy, the level of stamina that the NFL requires, that’s what we’re hoping to build here and I think that we are continuing to do a better job of that. We’re definitely not there yet.”
At 5-10, the Rams main storyline is the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield, and whether he can resurrect his career in the final two weeks.
Here’s breaking down the Battle of LA.
How To Watch
Kickoff: 1:25 p.m. local time
Screens: CBS and CBS sports app
Announcers: Spero Dedes and Jay Feely on the call for CBS. Feely kicked for seven different NFL teams in his career, but never for one in Los Angeles.
What Do The Oddsmakers Say?
DraftKings lists the Chargers as 6.5-point favorites and the over/under total at 41. FanDuel has the over/under at 40.5. The Chargers are now seventh on the board at DraftKings to win the Super Bowl (really) at +2200. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert still has a shot at being NFL MVP at +20,000, but he’d have to throw for 1,000 yards in the last two games to get there.
Key Numbers – Spread Talking
This season the Chargers are 8-5-1 against the spread, while the Rams are 5-9-1. The Rams have been underdogs in their last six games (so this makes seven). In their last five games against the spread, the Rams are 3-2. The Chargers have been the favorites in four of their last five games. They are 2-2-1 in those five, with the push coming against the Titans.
Key Numbers – Talking It Over/Under
In the last five games, the Chargers games have hit the under four times, and the only time it hit the over was by a half point. That speaks to the Chargers defensive play as of late. The Rams games have also been on the low side, hitting the under three times in the last five.
In all 15 games, eight games for the Chargers have gone over 41 points, but the last three have not. In their 15 games, six games for the Rams have been over 41.
The Chargers offense ranks 11th in the NFL, thanks in large part to the passing game which is fourth. The Chargers running game is limp, ranking second to last.
The Rams offense is horrible, ranking 31st overall. It is 25th in passing and 29th in rushing, and this is only because of the explosion against the Broncos on Christmas.
Defensively, the Rams defense ranks 12th overall, the Chargers are 19th. The Chargers rushing defense is 26th, so something has to give…a bad rushing offense (Rams) against a bad rushing defense (Chargers).
The Rams lead the all-time series 7-5. Here’s a look at their last five meetings:
Week 3 2018: Rams 35, Chargers 23 – The two teams first match-up since moving to LA. It was the Jared Goff Show. The Rams quarterback threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns. The Rams also blocked a punt for a score. LA would start the season 8-0 and reach Super Bowl LIII.
Week 11 2014: Chargers 27, Rams 24 – Rams back-up quarterback Shaun Hill threw an interception with 56 seconds left as the Chargers held on. Ryan Mathews had a 32-yard TD run for the Bolts.
Week 6 2010: Rams 20, Chargers 17 – The Rams were coming off a 44-6 loss to the Lions, but rookie Sam Bradford threw a TD pass and Steven Jackson had a touchdown run in an upset of the Chargers.
Week 7 2006: Chargers 38, Rams 24 – LaDainian Tomlinson ran for three touchdowns and 183 yards and Shawne Merriman had three sacks.
Week 9 2002: Rams 28, Chargers 24 – Marc Bulger threw for 453 yards and four touchdown passes, and somehow the Rams overcame four fumbles to win in St. Louis.
The X Factor
It comes down to Mayfield and the Rams offense. They’re coming off a 51-point outburst against the Broncos, but was that because the Rams figured some things out, or because the Broncos are really, really bad?
Mayfield has given the Rams some emotional juice, but their offensive line is still makeshift, and the running game that shined against the Broncos may be a mirage.
Expect a lot of talk about the crowd and who it favors. It is officially a Chargers home game, so expect them to have the bulk of the support.
Rams vs. Chargers Score Prediction
The Chargers are a team that appears to be surging, while the Rams are playing out the string. Herbert has been great the last three weeks…really he’s been great all season, it’s just the Chargers defense that has let them down. Mayfield gives the Rams some hope, but the Chargers are just better right now and I don’t think it will be close: Chargers 27, Rams 7.