By Don Wanlass
In the special section the Los Angeles Times published previewing the National Football League season, writers for the paper hinted that we could see our two Los Angeles teams — the Chargers and the Rams — playing in the Super Bowl next February.
Then the season started and the Chargers, in what is becoming a tradition, lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 38-28. The Chargers have now lost to the Chiefs in nine consecutive games, dating back to 2013.
There was too much Tyreek Hill for the Chargers to handle. Hill, a wide receiver and kick returner, is a threat to score any time he touches the ball.
He proved that to the Chargers less than two minutes into the game when he fielded a punt at his own 9-yard-line and raced 91 yards for a touchdown. A few minutes later he made it 14-3 Chiefs when he took a short pass from Patrick Mahomes, eluded a tackle and raced to the end zone on a 58-yard scoring play.
His third touchdown, on a 1-yard shovel pass from Mahomes iced the game in the fourth quarter.
After trailing 17-12 at halftime, the Chargers yielded two more touchdowns in the third quarter and only a 16-point fourth quarter made the game seem close.
The Chargers travel to Buffalo Sept. 16 to face the Bills, who were flattened by Baltimore, 47-3, in their opener. The Bills already have announced that rookie quarterback Josh Allen will start. The Chargers can ill afford another bad start because Kansas City is going to be one of the top teams in the AFC this season.
So it is imperative that the Chargers bounce back with a win against the Bills this week.
The Rams don’t have the same type of worries the Chargers have because the won their opener, going up to the Oakland Coliseum and handing out a 33-13 beat down to the Raiders.
The Rams were so dominant in the third quarter that they shut up the obnoxious Raider fans, who thought they were in the Black Hole in Oakland instead of a restaurant in Whittier.
Todd Gurley and Jared Goff picked up where they left off last season. Gurley gained more than 100 yards running the football, produced 147 total yards on 23 touches and caught a touchdown pass from Goff.
Goff had a shaky first half as the Raiders jumped off to a 13-10 lead, but righted the ship in the second half. He finished with 18 completions in 33 attempts for 233 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Quarterback Derek Carr, who has not produced like the Raiders had anticipated, completed 209 of 40 passes for 309 yards, but had three interceptions.
One of those interceptions was returned by Rams cornerback Marcus Peters 50 yards for a touchdown that broke the Raiders back in he fourth quarter. Peters was one of the defensive acquisitions the Rams made in the offseason to boost their performance on that side of the ball. He and Aqib Talib were added to shut down their opponents top receivers this year and allow the Rams line to put pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.
After the opening drive of the game, it seemed to work. The Raiders scored only six points the rest of the night.
The Rams play their home opener Sept. 16 against the Arizona Cardinals, who are in a rebuilding mode and got clobbered 24-6 by Washington in their season opener. The Rams did lose receiver and kick returner Pharoh Cooper to an ankle injury in the win over the Raiders.
COLLEGE WOES: Both the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins played teams in the top 10 Sept. 8. Not surprisingly, both loss. The Bruins traveled to Norman, Oklahoma to take on the sixth-ranked Sooners with freshman quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robertson getting his first start with Wilton Speight out with a back injury.
Thompson-Robertson showed poise and an ability to make things happen in a 49-21 blowout. He completed 16 of 26 passes for 254 yards and one touchdown without throwing an interception.
Bolu Olorunfunmi gained 56 yards in 15 carries and scored twice for the Bruins.
Tight end Caleb Wilson led the Bruins in receiving with four catches for 92 yards, 65 yards coming on a first-quarter play that set up Olorunfunmi’s first touchdown that gave the Bruins a brief 7-0 lead.
The Bruins defense couldn’t stop quarterback Kyler Murray, who threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 69 yards and two more touchdowns.
If there was silver lining, the defense also gave up 179 yards rushing.
The Bruins go for their first win in the Chip Kelly era Sept. 15, playing Fresno State in the Rose Bowl at 7:30 p.m.
The USC Trojans will try to bounce back from their 17-3 loss to Stanford when they face Texas Sept. 15 in Austin. Kickoff is at 5 p.m.
The Trojans could never get much offense going against Stanford. They turned the ball over three times and gained only 114 yards on the ground.
Freshman quarterback JT Daniels completed only 16 of 34 passes for 218 yards and three two interceptions.
Stanford clamped down on Amon-Ra St. Brown. After catching seven passes in the season-opening win over UNLV, St. Brown caught just two passes for 39 yards.
Defensively, the Trojans couldn’t stop Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Love. He gained 136 yards in 22 carries and scored once.
Texas will be a good test for the Trojans.
BAD LOSSES: In sports, there are good losses and bad losses. If you have first-place aspirations, you better be able to beat last place teams.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers haven’t been able to do that this year, dropping six straight games to the lowly Cincinnati Reds before winning Sept 12 in Cincinnati. The Dodgers are 15 games better than the Reds this year. If they had won half of the six they lost they would be in first place, instead of looking up at the Colorado Rockies, who are a game and a half ahead of them.
The Rockies begin a three-game series at Dodger Stadium Sept. 17 that could very easily decide the National League West. Or things could go down to the last week of the season when the Dodgers have three games with Arizona and three with the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers bats are now the most inconsistent part of the team. When the Dodgers are hitting, they are hard to beat. But the Dodgers are 5-5 in September and have scored only 14 runs in the five losses. They have scored 30 runs on their five wins.
Dodgers hitters are striking out too much and swinging for the fences too often. They need to improve at moving runners over and getting clutch hits with runners on base and two outs.
Manager Dave Roberts needs to find a hitting combination that works and stick with it down the stretch. Hitters are more comfortable when they know they will be in the lineup every day. The Dodgers are blessed with a lot of depth, but trying to keep everyone happy with playing time, may be getting in the way.
Going with a platoon of Joc Pederson and Chris Tylor in left field, Cody Bellinger in center, Yasiel Puig in right with an infield of Max Muncy at first, Brian Dozier at second, Manny Machado at shortstop and Justin Turner at third, with Yasmani Grandal behind the plate gives the Dodgers the best chance to win day in and day out.