By Anthony Harris, Contributing Writer
What a weekend in sports for LA teams! The devastation I feel from the Dodgers first round series loss to the San Diego Padres remains a tough pill to swallow. The beauty of sports is the game must be played to determine a winner. There is no politics, no favoritism, and no significant advantage other than the availability of players. Everyone plays in the same heat, wind, rain, or cold. The playing field is leveled and teams with the energy, desire, and momentum will rise to a level that produces a victory. On any given day, any team can win and that is why you play the game.
In the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers, they hadn’t played a meaningful game in over a month due to their early and often regular season success winning 111 games. Including 14 wins out of 19 games against the Padres. Momentum is like lighting in a bottle and can turn into a beast when a team captures it. The Padres were coming off a wildcard series win and brought those winning ways into the 1st round playoff series against the Dodgers. From game one, you could feel the rumblings of momentum generating after the 3rd inning. The Dodgers were stunned by the Padre bullpen for the last 6 innings of game 1. In fact, the Padres were a hit away from stealing game 1.
When the Friars took game two heading home to San Diego, the momentum officially turned into a force the Dodgers could not overcome. Truth be told, the Dodgers were never really in the series. It’s the part of sports that most can’t understand. The boys in blue had proven to be the best team in baseball all regular season long. Regardless of the high payroll and superstar lineup, momentum and complacency took over and ultimately ripped the hearts out of the Los Angeles fan base. This one is going to sting for quite sometime and don’t even mention next year. It’s too soon! Way too soon!
The NFL teams in the city both came away with victories this week. The Rams beat the lowly Carolina Panthers while the Chargers took down the Denver Broncos in overtime on Monday Night Football. Neither team is clicking or finding a specific strength to build upon. Injuries are a part of the game and both teams have significant concerns on the offensive line. Nobody cares and is going to give you a pass because you have injuries. It’s a “next man up” world.
As the defending champs, the Rams have expectations to compete at a high level and repeat as champions. They are showing signs of life at times, but those signs are few and far between. McVay is a genius, but the mastermind has become exposed while defenses have been teeing off on his offensive game plans. Rams refuel this week as they have a much-needed Bye.
Brandon Staley, head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers either has a rabbit’s foot in his pocket or is the luckiest poker player in history. In Monday night’s game he once again decided to go for it on for 4th and 2 to begin the 4th quarter instead kicking a field goal and taking the lead for good. Those three points would have proven to be the deciding factor in winning the game in regulation. Charger fans are done with Staley’s 4th down decisions. His antics are only creating an outcry to welcome Sean Peyton in the coming months. Wins are hard to come by in the NFL and Bolt fans will take it. Staley sure makes it difficult to feel good about being 4-2 after six weeks.
The Chargers injuries are mounting but nobody cares. The glaring concerns with this team is on offense. The absence of Keenan Allen is paramount and the lack of a wide receiver that can fly down the field is obvious. Offensive Coordinator, Joe Lombardi is relying way too much on Justin Herbert and completely abandoning the running game. Throwing the ball 57 times a game is not the blueprint to the playoffs. Message to the Bolts management who make decisions, go get Desean Jackson off the couch and let him take the top of the defense. Oh, and run the doggone football. Justin Herbert is one of the best in the league but looks timid and very conservative checking down for 4–5-yard passes on the regular. This isn’t the formula for success and drives Bolts fans crazy!
The Chargers defense is the saving grace. Even with a one-sided pass rush. Khalil Mack is producing at a consistent rate but has no help from the other side with Bosa out for significant time again. The secondary is much improved and linebacker Drue Tranquil has been a pleasant surprise thus far. Derwin James continues to be the best defender on the field and leads the charge for the bolts. The Seahawks are coming to town, and this could be a trap game for the Chargers. Don’t sleep on Geno Smith and the Hawks. They have looked good this season and will be up for the challenge. Although I don’t like it, my pick #2 and upset of the week is Seahawks 27 – Chargers 21.
The Trojans were brought down to earth by Utah over the weekend. Lincoln Riley made some questionable calls down the stretch and the Ute fans celebrated Saturday night by storming the field after a 43-42 win over USC at home. All the Lincoln Riley hype and transfer portal chatter can finally come to a halt. Now that reality has set in, the Trojans can get back to work on building a winning program again. There is no doubt the Trojans have some serious weapons on offense and can score with the best in the country. Defensively is where they are vulnerable, and it has showed since week two when Stanford put up 441 yards of total offense. The Trojans have a Bye week to rally and get ready to wax up on a weak Arizona Wildcat team on October 29th.
Although the UCLA Bruins didn’t play this week, they rose in the rankings to #9. It been 7 years since the Bruins have cracked the top 10. Congrats but not the target on their back grows. It’s going to take a colossal effort this week as the 6-0 Bruins travel to Eugene to take on #10 Oregon who are currently 5-1 with their only loss being to #2 Ohio State in week 1.
Finally, the NBA season begins tonight, and the Lakers travel to the bay area to take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors. I’ll take the Warriors in a lopsided victory. The Lakers showed absolutely nothing in the pre-season and all signs point toward mystery with new Coach Darvin Ham and this 2022-23 team. The LA fans are starving for a competitive Laker team this year and missing the playoffs for two straight seasons will not be acceptable. I cross my fingers and toes while praying this group can develop some chemistry and stand clear of the injury bug. They have a solid mix of talent and have gotten younger. As the season embarks this evening, LA fans will need to stay patient and pray that Coach Ham creates a culture built on unity, toughness, and total execution.
Big A’s picks for the week:
- Niners rebound to beat Chiefs 24-21
- Seahawks squeak by the Chargers 27-21
- UCLA pulls off a victory in Oregon to stay unbeaten 38-35
- Inglewood High stays unbeaten and hammers Beverly Hills 42 – 6
- Raiders get back on track and beat the Texans 28-17
- Gardena Serra High bounces back and beats Alemany 35-10