Sid Saraf’s NFL Power Rankings: Week 4
Let me defend my hometown a bit.
Week after week, the national media gleefully reports on the sparse crowds for NFL games in Los Angeles. We get panorama shots of the empty seats on Sundays followed by a predictable amount of snark.
Well, knock it off.
The popular theory is that Los Angeles won’t support pro football. After all, the city had the Raiders and the Rams and both left for greener pastures in the mid-90’s. The fans don’t show up, they say. It’s an apathetic town, right?
The Raiders and Rams left because Los Angeles wouldn’t give them public funds to build new stadiums. That’s it. This is the one city that has given the NFL the finger over taxpayer money and has never budged. The new stadium Stan Kroenke is building for the Rams and eventually the Chargers is coming out of his own pocket.
And don’t even tell me that Los Angeles fans aren’t loyal. The Lakers won less than 30 games last season and still finished 11th in attendance. That would be ahead of playoff teams like the Celtics, Spurs and Thunder. The Dodgers are always at the top of MLB attendance, no matter what their record is.
Now, why are the Chargers doing so poorly? Simple, nobody in this city wanted them here. The Chargers are the equivalent of the Clippers landing in LaLa Land in the 80s. Nobody asked for them or particularly wanted them, but suddenly they were around and it took the better part of 30 years to build a dedicated fanbase.
People want the Rams here. There are fans still left over from before they moved to St. Louis and they’ve followed the team the entire time. And while yes, the crowds at the Coliseum haven’t been great so far this season, that’s more due to a hangover from a putrid 2016 campaign tainted by the smell of Jeff Fisher.
Have you seen the new Rams offense? We’re only three games in and they’ve already supplied more fireworks than the past two seasons combined. They’re not just talented, they’re becoming interesting.
And Los Angeles loves interesting. It may not happen overnight, but I think the bandwagon is going to grow pretty fast.
Just give us a chance!
Anyway, let’s see how the league is shaping up heading into Week 4.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
NFL’S TOP 10
1) Chiefs: They’re sitting pretty at 3-0. And even though that win over New England was a few weeks ago, that battle chestnut keeps them in the top spot.
2) Falcons: Definitely not the same team on the road, but they managed to escape Detroit with a W. At the end of the season, nobody will remember the Lions literally came up a yard short of pulling off the upset.
3) Patriots: I wanted to put them at No. 2, however Matt Patricia’s defense is routinely coming up small. Don’t worry, though. Bill Belichick will figure this out. He always does. I sense a trade or two coming down the pike.
4) Broncos: They had a strange hiccup in Buffalo as Von Miller got hit with a bogus unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late. But they’re fine.
5) Cowboys: That Monday night win was impressive, considering their offense was rarely on the field. It’s clear opposing defenses are going all out to stop Ezekiel Elliott. And so far, Dak Prescott has been able to pick up the slack.
6) Redskins: They’ve been hot the past two weeks. And what they did to the Raiders offense on Sunday night was eye-opening. Greg Manusky has quietly put together a solid D.
7) Titans: Maybe I’m stuck in the past, but I give people extra credit for beating the Seahawks. I’m still surprised whenever Seattle loses, even though I shouldn’t.
8) Packers: Did anyone actually doubt Aaron Rodgers would engineer that comeback win over the Bengals?
9) Lions: Credit is due for fighting back and almost stealing one from Atlanta. This team will be right in the mix at the end of the season.
10) Eagles Should they be higher on this list? Maybe. But here we are.
WHAT’S THE CHATTER?
Anthem protests: The message seems to have been completely lost with each side shouting at each other. I tend to stay away from topics such as these since I don’t feel I have the capability of speaking intelligently about it. There are people with a much higher level of sophistication than yours truly, and it’s best for me to leave the talking to them.
However, a story broke on Wednesday that Joey Odoms, the combat veteran who has sung the national anthem at Ravens games the past three seasons has resigned. Not because he’s offended by the protests – which he isn’t – it’s because he doesn’t want to be used as a tool for people trying to argue their point.
That’s just sad. But I respect his decision, which he called an “ethical” one.
Sam Bradford: This poor, poor man. When will he catch a damn break? I should have known though. After that Week 1 performance, it was almost guaranteed that something terrible would happen. Here’s hoping he’ll play this week, but I’m not holding my breath.
Jaguars: Tight end Marcedes Lewis said the team will go as far as Blake Bortles takes them. OK, so nowhere. Got it. Thanks, bye. Nice job in London last week though.
Odell Beckham Jr.: Why are people so offended that he pretended to urinate like a dog? It’s clear the entire team is wetting their pants with every play, so why shouldn’t OBJ just illustrate that point?
Cam Newton: I wince every team I see the pass rush closing in on him. The man isn’t right physically and I feel guilty watching him try to tough it out.
Andrew Luck: At least he’s sitting out while his shoulder heals. And hey, that Jacoby Brissett looks pretty good!
Deshaun Watson: The Texans rookie is like Jared Goff. They’ve both shown flashes of brilliance and I can’t wait for the next chance to see them play.
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
Bears at Packers: Sure, it’s a Thursday night game. But this is the oldest rivalry in the NFL and I’m a sucker for history. I expect to see many throwback photos of Butkus, Nitschke and more.
Panthers at Patriots: Bill Belichick called Cam Newton Public Enemy No. 1 heading into Sunday’s game because of his ability to run. That has always presented problems for Patriots defenses over the years. But it won’t be this time. Looks for New England to take this one by two touchdowns.
Steelers at Ravens: Pittsburgh stinks on the road, but that doesn’t matter. I’d still take the Ravens in this one, even if it was played at Heinz Field.
Raiders at Broncos: Sexiest matchup of the week. The AFC West is so strong and both teams are trying to get the taste of defeat out of their mouths. Expect an emotional battle that Denver will win by a hair.
Redskins at Chiefs: Hey, an entertaining Monday night game! At least on paper. Chiefs are lucky to get this one at home.
Currently a Mobile Editor at Yahoo, Saraf spent 5.5 years (Oct. 2010 - Feb. 2016) working for FOX Sports as an NFL Editor and Writer. Prior to that, Saraf worked for CBS Interactive for 4.5 years (May 2006 - Oct. 2010) as a Staff Editor.