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Can the Rams or Chargers make Los Angeles love them?

You got your football, Los Angeles, a double dose of it. Now, which team will start winning the soonest?

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Oakland Raiders v San Diego Chargers Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The San Diego Chargers are moving to Los Angeles, where they’ll join the former St. Louis Rams. Between them, they’ll bring the power of 20 combined wins in the last two seasons to their new shared home.

You’re getting the NFL back, Hollywood. Just maybe not the way you wanted it.

Los Angeles will be the league’s epicenter for mediocrity in 2017 thanks to the presence of two franchises with one NFL championship between them in 137 combined seasons and one playoff win since 2008.

The city was a supposedly football-starved landscape despite waning attendance numbers in the Rams’ first season back on the West Coast. Now, after decades without professional football, L.A. will now have to split its allegiances between two snake-bitten franchises. Children born after the Rams’ 1996 departure won’t know where place their trust. Who can they turn to for road losses in Wild Card games and top-half draft selections each May?

In that spirit, here’s how the two teams stack up as viable franchises for their new city’s fanhood.

Offensive talent

The Chargers have Philip Rivers leading the team at quarterback. He suggested in 2015 he might just retire rather than relocate to Los Angeles, though he walked that sentiment back a bit later in the year.

There’s still plenty of talent on the former San Diego roster without him. Melvin Gordon was a hip injury away from a 1,000-yard season at tailback. Hunter Henry looks like Antonio Gates’ heir apparent at tight end. Tyrell Williams, Dontrelle Inman, and Keenan Allen make up a dynamic receiving corps. The Chargers are loaded with young talent at the skill positions.

The Rams must be jealous. 2016’s No. 1 overall pick, Jared Goff, has developed slowly after sitting out the first nine games of the season and finished his rookie campaign with a lower passer rating than interception cyborg Ryan Fitzpatrick. Todd Gurley went from 2015 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year to Trent Richardson after averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in 2016. The team’s receiving corps looks like the waiver wire of a 12-team fantasy league.

The Rams can address those shortfalls thanks to an estimated $44 million in cap space this offseason, but it’s still a grim situation. Even if Rivers decides to make good on his retirement threat, the edge here goes to the team stocked with dynamic, playmaking weapons.

Verdict: Chargers

Defensive talent

The Rams have the defensive chops to consistently stun the Seahawks thanks to one of the NFL’s most disruptive defensive lines. All-Pros Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn lead a unit that ranked in the top 10 when it came to yards allowed per play (ninth), opponent third-down percentage (fourth), and opponents’ yards per pass (eighth). That pair is backed up by young, talented veterans like Mark Barron and Alec Ogletree, giving Los Angeles a formidable defense

The Chargers boosted their defense this season with some shrewd offseason acquisitions. Joey Bosa, the No. 4 pick in the 2016 draft, is a front-runner for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Free-agent signing Casey Hayward led the league in interceptions this fall. Rookie Jatavis Brown and sophomore Denzel Perryman give the franchise a pair of building blocks at linebacker, while Ingram allows them to bookend Bosa’s sack attack with another powerful pass rusher.

But the Chargers, thanks to their spot in a division filled with tough offenses, gave up more than 26 points per game. The Rams weren’t much better at 24.6, but the edge has to go to L.A.’s oldest new team.

Verdict: Rams

Coaching staff

Neither team has a head coach as of Jan. 12, since the Chargers fired Mike McCoy and the Rams cut human disaster Jeff Fisher recently. Los Angeles’ first relocators are leaning towards making 30-year-old Sean McVay their new boss, while the team formerly from San Diego is taking a long, hard look at Matt Patricia and Dave Toub for its top role.

That’s a solid list of rising coordinator candidates, though none would be a game-changing hire.

Verdict: It’s a draw.

Existing fan base

The Rams drew more than 91,000 fans in Week 2 of their return to Los Angeles thanks in part to the roots the team left behind from a 48-year stint in the city from 1948 to 1996. While those numbers faltered as the season wore onand fans began to understand how deep Jeff Fisher’s Ponzi scheme ran — they’ll still be significantly higher than what their new cross-city rivals pull.

The Chargers have a great chance to sell out their new arena on Sundays in 2017, but that’s because the StubHub Center is a 27,000-seat stadium built for soccer. Qualcomm Stadium, the team’s dilapidated former home, held just over 70,000 fans but averaged just a shade over 57,000 last fall. Even if sales drop by 52 percent, they’ll still be able to surround the pitch with a capacity crowd.

Those numbers will rise once the two franchises move into their shared new stadium, but it’s not like Los Angeles is stoked about getting San Diego’s rejected scraps. The subheadline of Bill Plaschke’s latest column for the Times is simply “Message to Chargers: We don't want you in Los Angeles.” Eesh.

Verdict: Rams, pretty much by default.


Dean Spanos wanted to stay in San Diego, he just didn’t want to stay unless taxpayers forked over hundreds of millions in funding to replace an aging stadium. Instead, he’s leaving the city he called home, and at a significant up-front cost to do so.

The franchise will eat a $550 million relocation fee to make the two-hour drive up I-5 to the greener pastures of Los Angeles. On top of that, his choice to exit San Diego leaves $300 million in league funding for a new stadium on the table.

And then there’s the new venue San Diego will call home the next two seasons — a stadium that holds 44,000 fewer people than Qualcomm did. If we use last season’s attendance numbers (57,000) and an average ticket price of $84.55, the franchise (and other beneficiaries like local taxes) stands to lose more than $2.5 million from ticket revenue each game. Over the course of two seasons — and not counting preseason games and other revenue sources that come with hosting an NFL game — that figure balloons to more than $40.5m.

Spanos was willing to do all that just to leave San Diego.

Meanwhile, Rams owner Stan Kroenke hated St. Louis and essentially skipped out of town while flinging gasoline on every bridge he crossed.

Verdict: Chargers.


This logo suuuuuccccckkkkkks.

Verdict: Rams

The jilted city they left behind

St. Louis still has the Cardinals, Washington University football (UAA champs!), and Imo’s Pizza. San Diego has ... very nice weather and the hopes of one day luring Jim Harbaugh back to the place his coaching career started.

Verdict: Rams


The Chargers are going to be the more exciting team, but if you’re gunning for a more stable rooting interest in the road to mediocrity, there’s only one clear winner. With a worse owner, slightly less apathetic fan base, and a dynamite defensive line, Los Angeles’ No. 1 team has to be the Rams.