Playoff hopes for Rams, Bolts

MATTHEW STAFFORD shook off a bad start to lead the Rams to a 20-19 win Sunday over the Baltimore Ravens. The team can clinch the NFC West title with a win over the 49ers (Blevin Townsend/LA Rams).


That one word defines the agenda for the two Los Angeles-area NFL teams. With their wins on Sunday, the Rams and Chargers can each make their own destiny with a victory this coming weekend.

The Rams fell behind early and were only able barely to pull out a 20-19 win over the Ravens in Baltimore on Sunday. Now 12-4 and in first place in the NFC West, all that stands between them and the division title is a win next Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium or a loss by Arizona (11-5),

Much of this anticipation would not have been possible if Matthew Stafford hadn’t recovered from his early stumbles and led LAR to a stirring comeback.

He shook off two interceptions and a fumble to drive his team to the win with a touchdown throw to Odell Beckham, Jr. in the closing seconds of the game.

“Matthew Stafford doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t blink,” said Coach Sean McVay. “I think we’ve seen that in each of the last two weeks,” he added, according to Los Angeles Times.

The Rams have already locked up a spot in the post-season. A division championship would guarantee them a home game for their first playoff game. They’re 5-2 in Inglewood but an even better 7-2 on the road.

Chargers facing win-or-stay home

Over their long mutual history – whether they represented San Diego or Oakland or their current host cities – the Chargers and Raiders have played many a crucial contest.

Add this one to the list. When the Chargers and Raiders (each 9-7) meet in Las Vegas on Sunday, the winner will advance as a wild card playoff team. The loser … does not.

“Gotta win,” said Charger wide received Keenan Allen. “Playoff mindset. Everything’s on the line.”

The Bolts set up the key contest with a 34-13 win over the Broncos on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Now perhaps they can take a bit of comfort from their 28-14 win over the Raiders at SoFi earlier in the season.

However, where the game is played might not be that big of a deal. The Chargers are 5-4 at home and 4-3 on the road, while the Raiders are 4-4 at home and 5-3 away.

Around the sports scene …

  • The Los Angeles Lakers squared their season record at 19-19 with Sunday’s 108-103 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. They remain in seventh place in the NBA Western Conference, one-half game behind the Los Angeles Clippers (19-18) in sixth. The top six teams in each conference make the playoffs. On Saturday the Clips defeated the Brooklyn Nets 120-116.
  • With a 4-2 setback against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, the Anaheim Ducks posted their fourth loss in a row. They are now 17-11-7 with 41 points and in second place in the NHL Pacific Division. The Los Angeles Kings improved to 16-2-5 with a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday. The Kings are fifth in the Pacific, but just one point out of fourth and four points (two wins) back of the Ducks.

Sports Calendar for the Week

  • Los Angeles Rams (12-4) at San Francisco 49ers (9-7) on Sunday at 1:25 p.m.
  • Los Angeles Chargers (9-7) at the Las Vegas Raiders (9-7) on Sunday at 5:20 p.m.
  • Anaheim Ducks host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday at Honda Center, then the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday and the New York Rangers on Saturday.
  • Los Angeles Kings host the Nashville Predators on Thursday, then the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.


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