The Chargers have made the trip north, up the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles.
With a new head coach in Anthony Lynn and a new defensive coordinator in Gus Bradley, the Chargers will be in a battle with the Rams for the hearts of football fans in Los Angeles. Lynn has brought a refreshing, no-nonsense approach to the franchise, while Bradley has instilled energy and swagger on defense. That should go a long way in improving a Chargers team that lost six games in which it led in the fourth quarter last season.
Today's question: Will the Chargers finish with a better record than the Rams in the battle for L.A.?
Jeff Legwold, Denver Broncos reporter: Each team continues to deal with the uncertainty that comes with changing cities. Both will play home games in a stopover stadium until the new digs are ready in 2020. In each of those stadiums, the teams face unique issues. The Rams, with a new coaching staff and quarterback Jared Goff in his first full season as starter, play in the cavernous L.A. Coliseum that could, if things go badly, look empty at times, even with liberal use of snazzy tarps to cover seats.
The Chargers, by contrast, will play in a soccer stadium in Carson that will seat 30,000. The Chargers left plenty of hard feelings behind in San Diego and are still trying to create a niche in Los Angeles, so there's a chance that opposing fans will carve out a big swath in the crowd.
In the end, it comes down to the rosters, and the Chargers, with Philip Rivers at quarterback, have far more stability and ability on their depth chart. The records, when 2017 is all said and done, will reflect that.
Adam Teicher, Kansas City Chiefs reporter: The Chargers will have a better team than their crosstown neighbors. That should translate into a better record, but the Chargers have a more difficult schedule, with seven games against 2016 playoff teams, as opposed to five for the Rams. Two factors will determine whether the Chargers finish ahead of the Rams. One is how they fare in games against the AFC West. The Chargers have won one of their past 14 games against the Chiefs, Broncos and Raiders. If they get shut out in AFC West games, as they did in 2015, or win once, as in 2016, the Rams will move ahead of them. Otherwise, the Chargers will finish ahead of the Rams. The other factor is how the Chargers handle the distractions of the move from San Diego and whether they can establish home-field advantage at cozy StubHub Center. If the Chargers fail to lure many fans from San Diego or can’t establish a following in L.A., many of their tickets will wind up in the hands of visiting fans, and that will make each of their 16 games feel like a road contest.
Paul Gutierrez, Oakland Raiders reporter: Is this a new twist on that old yarn about trees falling in the forest and no one being around to hear them, so they don’t make any noise? Look, both teams are breaking in new coaches. The Rams will get dwarfed in the massive Coliseum, and the Chargers will get intimate in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium. For kicks and giggles, let’s assume everyone on both rosters is healthy. If so, then the Chargers have the most talent in L.A., hands down, even if the Raiders are the most popular team in La La Land. But I digress. The Chargers, with a potential Hall of Fame quarterback in Philip Rivers and a young stud pass-rusher in Joey Bosa, would be favored in a head-to-head matchup against their SoCal brethren. However, the Chargers play in the AFC West and have to play the Raiders, Chiefs and Broncos two times each as they rebrand and reshuffle, while the Rams play in one of the NFL’s weaker divisions and get to face a declining Seahawks team, the 49ers, who are in full rebuild mode, and the Cardinals, who are still trying to figure out if they are contenders. To answer the question then: yes.