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Sports Authority

Smith: Championship trifecta looking unlikely for Los Angeles

| Wednesday, November 4, 2020

The city of Los Angeles just enjoyed one of the greatest sports months in recent memory. After the Los Angeles Lakers captured their 17th NBA title on Oct. 11 with a 4-2 series victory over the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Dodgers ended a 32-year World Series drought on Oct. 27 by defeating the Tampa Bay Rays in six games. Los Angeles is on top of the sports world right now with champions in two major leagues, but that joy might fade quickly based on the play of the city’s two NFL teams.

Though not as bad as the Atlanta Falcons, the Los Angeles Chargers are a close second for the title of biggest chokers in the league. Up 24-3 in the third quarter against the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon, the Chargers’ defense completely fell apart and allowed quarterback Drew Lock and company to storm back for a game-winning touchdown as time expired to hand the Bolts a 31-30 loss. 

Although the loss is devastating by itself, according to ESPN, this is the third time this season that the Chargers have blown a lead of 17 points or more. Those kinds of losses are incredibly demoralizing for a team and its fanbase, and it is hard to believe that head coach Anthony Lynn hasn’t figured out how to adjust his game plan to turn those leads into wins.

If it is any consolation for Chargers fans, at least the team has been consistent with its losses. For Los Angeles Rams fans, it has been a completely different story. The Rams are much better off with a 5-3 record on the year, but it is hard to tell how good they truly are. The defense has been stout so far this season, giving up the second-fewest yards per game and fourth-fewest points per game in the league. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald has also continues to feast on opposing offensive lines, as he is tied for first in the league with 9.0 sacks on the year despite being double-teamed on most plays. However, the offense and quarterback Jared Goff have had a difficult time establishing a rhythm.

Facing the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon with rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa making his first career start, Goff was the player that looked like he was new to the league. Goff had four total turnovers on the day with two fumbles and two interceptions, resulting in a 28-17 loss for Los Angeles despite the team outgaining Miami by 326 total yards.

Goff will certainly need to pick up his play in the coming weeks if he wants to keep the Rams in the playoff hunt, as they have an incredibly tough four-game stretch going up against the Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. The Rams have the skill position players to compete against all four squads, as speedy wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods can blow past opposing defensive backs while running backs Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. provide a strong two-man punch in the backfield. Yet Goff needs to drastically improve upon his 23rd-best total quarterback rating of 60.2 for the Rams to have a shot at upsetting some of the hottest teams in the NFL.

Angelenos have been living the dream lately with the immense success of their sports teams throughout October. As a Chicago sports fan, I must say that I have been feeling extremely jealous, as the Bears, Bulls, Cubs and Blackhawks have all been letting me down. Los Angeles may be coming back down to earth soon though, as it appears unlikely that the coming months will bring the same kind of joy based on how the Chargers and Rams have been playing. But if the Chargers can learn how to keep their leads under 17 points, then we may have to get ready for yet another championship celebration in the City of Angels.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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