This year’s battle of Los Angeles is set for Sunday afternoon when the Chargers take on the Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams enter the matchup with a 2-0 record after whipping the Arizona Cardinals last week.
Chargers second-year head coach Anthony Lynn expects the Rams to be a handful. In particular, he’s concerned about facing their defense, led up front by Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.
The Rams’ defense has shut out opposing offenses in six consecutive quarters.
“Well, I think their defensive line — they’re very good, maybe one of the better defensive lines in the National Football League with Donald, Suh, ‘Brock,'” Lynn said.
“Then, in the secondary, you’ve got two of the top corners in the league in man coverage and in the back end at safeties — those guys are quality players as well. I think they’re stacked in every position on every level.”
Asked about a budding rivalry between the two LA teams, Lynn shrugged.
“Yeah, it’s the next on the schedule. It’s a big game because it’s the next game,” Lynn said. “I love playing in the Coliseum as well — that place, I have a lot of fond memories of that place and it’s a great place to play a football game. Should be a lot of fun.”
Chargers veteran quarterback Philip Rivers will be charged with finding a way to move the ball against the Rams. Rivers has connected on 73.1 percent of his passes (57-of-78) for 680 yards and six touchdowns with one interception in the first two games of the season. He ranks third in the NFL in touchdowns, fourth in total yards, completion percentage and passer rating (119.6) and sixth in completions.
In three previous regular-season meetings with the Rams, Rivers has passed for 746 yards and three touchdowns. He was 29-of-35 for 291 yards and a touchdown the last time the teams played.
Rams cornerback Marcus Peters enjoys playing against Rivers. He has four career interceptions against the seven-time Pro Bowler.
“I love Philip Rivers,” Peters said, explaining that he enjoys the competitive spirit that Rivers brings to every game.
Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has contributed 92 yards rushing on 24 carries and one touchdown along with a team-best 15 receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow back Austin Ekeler leads the Chargers in rushing wtih 116 yards on 16 carries.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen has added a team-high 175 receiving yards on 14 catches.
“When you look at the Chargers in all three phases, they present a challenge,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said.
The Chargers’ defense, without injured defensive end Joey Bosa (foot) but still with a formidable pass rush led by Melvin Ingram and rookie safety Derwin James, will have its hands full with a Rams offense directed by second-year quarterback Jared Goff.
Goff is completing 64.6 percent of his passes (42-of-65) for 587 yards, three touchdowns and one interception with a passer rating of 102.5.
“To see how Jared has taken off this year and to see him make the transition from me playing against him in college … to see how hungry he is to go out there and prove he is one of the top quarterbacks in this league, it helps us,” Peters said.
“He’s been awesome for me as a guy to grow with and a guy who we want to hit those deep passes down the field with, like you saw last week,” Goff said of Cooks.
The bell cow for the Rams, though, is running back Todd Gurley, who has carried the ball a league-high 39 times for 150 yards and three touchdowns in two games. He also has six receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown.
The Chargers (1-1) realize they’ll have to devote significant defensive energy to slowing down Gurley.
“Like I told my team, we’re about to play some really good football and it’s going to be a heck of a challenge for them, but that’s why you play the game,” Lynn said. “That is why you play it because you like these challenges and it’s fun and exciting.”