The Rams will have the Chargers as a tenant in their shiny new stadium down the road, but on Sunday they’ll welcome their regional rival to the L.A. Coliseum.
Over their past six quarters of football, the Los Angeles Rams (2-0) have outscored the Oakland Raiders and Arizona Cardinals by a combined score of 57-0. The Los Angeles Chargers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1, but they handled the Buffalo Bills just as expected in Week 2.
Melvin Gordon is still the lead man in the Chargers backfield. But Austin Ekeler has been a worthy compliment through two games, averaging 7.3 yards per carry and 9.3 yards per touch. Quarterback Philip Rivers is off to a nice start too, sitting fourth in the league in passing yards with six touchdown passes (three in each game) and an average of 8.7 yards per attempt.
According to ESPN Stats and Information the Chargers are tied with the Denver Broncos for the league lead in explosive plays, defined as rushes of 15 or more yards and pass plays of 20 yards or more, with 17. Tied for fifth in the league, with 13 explosive plays, is the Rams.
The Chargers and Rams are both top-10 in the league in total, scoring and passing offense so far this season. Both teams are top-10 in total defense as well, and the Rams have the top scoring defense in the league after shutting out the feeble Cardinals last week and allowing zero points in the aforementioned six quarters of play.
The Rams’ success offensively has been easily tied to the hiring of Sean McVay as head coach, and that’s led to some dismissal of quarterback Jared Goff over the least season-plus despite his being a former No. 1 overall pick. Goff doesn’t care if he’s labeled as a “system quarterback”, as long as the offense is clicking and the team wins games (which is the right answer to the system quarterback idea). So far so good then, as the Rams try to realize the hype attached to them this year after an active offseason.
It should be a high-scoring game in the southern California sun on Sunday, with two good and explosive offenses on the field at L.A. Coliseum. The Chargers will still be without defensive end Joey Bosa (foot) too, who is expected to be out until mid-October. Bosa’s absence takes a lot way from the Chargers’ pass rush, even if it hasn’t fully shown with six sacks over the first two games.
The turnover margin stands to matter more in Chargers-Rams than any other game on Sunday. The defense that can create extra opportunities for its offense will also create a distinct advantage, and a touchdown on defense would really tilt the momentum. The Rams are a plus-three in the turnover margin so far this year, aided by a couple inexplicable throws from Derek Carr in Week 1, while the Chargers have the same number of turnovers and takeaways (two).
It can be argued Sunday’s game is a little bigger for the Chargers, as they try to avoid a 1-2 start and also avoid the potential of falling two games behind the leader (or leaders) in the AFC West. If the Rams win, they could be the only undefeated and untied team in the NFC by the end of week’s action.