Rams bring the NFL playoffs back to L.A., while Chargers are left at home

gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAAAAACH5BAEKAAEALAAAAAABAAEAAAICTAEAOw== - Rams bring the NFL playoffs back to L.A., while Chargers are left at home

A yr in the past, this was solely a pipe dream.

The NFL’s first season back in Los Angeles, after 22 years in exile, had been a catastrophe. The Rams scraped collectively simply 4 wins. Their coach was fired, their stadium was half-empty. A home playoff recreation in Los Angeles appeared as distant because it had the earlier 20 years, when L.A. had no group at all.

But on Sunday, as a meaningless recreation was performed at the Coliseum, a celebration nobody of their proper thoughts would’ve predicted raged on, nonetheless. A banner hung close to the entrance of Lot 2, the place the most diehard of Rams followers tailgated since final season. Fans danced in entrance of it, toasting Bud Lites as Snoop Dogg performed on the boombox. “NFC West Division Champions,” the banner learn.

If you hadn’t watched the Rams’ gorgeous turnaround from its begin, you won’t have believed what you noticed. But certainly, it had been true for greater than per week by then, a seemingly not possible dream realized.

The Los Angeles Rams are certain for the NFL playoffs.

On Saturday, they’ll host the Falcons in a home playoff recreation at the Coliseum, the place an NFL playoff recreation hasn’t been performed in 24 years. Atlanta, the reigning NFC champion, have received six of its final eight with their solely two losses coming in opposition to fellow NFC playoff groups.

“The game of our life is next week,” mentioned Rams guard Rodger Saffold, who, like a technology of Angelenos, will see the playoffs for the first time on Saturday.

Across city, the metropolis’s latest NFL franchise had simply completed considered one of their finest video games of season. The Chargers completely dominated the Raiders, who had been so dismayed after that they fired Jack Del Rio, their coach, earlier than the postgame information convention. The victory was the final case the Chargers might make for a playoff spot, and it was a convincing one.

In a stadium full of Raider followers, days after the Raiders took out full-page advertisements in each L.A. newspaper to announce their presence, it was the Chargers who made a daring assertion on Sunday. But it wasn’t sufficient. They wanted the Titans to lose. They wanted the Ravens to win. Neither got here to fruition.

The Chargers could very properly be the third-best group in the AFC, however this yr, there can be no likelihood to show it in the postseason. They completed the season with 9 wins over their final 12 video games, however it was the winless first month of their first yr in Los Angeles that in the end sunk them. Only one NFL group had ever climbed out of such a deep gap.

“Close,” security Tre Boston mentioned, “but not close enough.”

“It hurts, because you win one of those (close games), and you need no help today,” quarterback Philip Rivers mentioned. “We’re a pretty hot team that’s going home.”

There had been no such desperation for the Rams, who blazed their method by the NFC, taking part in all season like a franchise remodeled. Under first-year, 31-year-old coach Sean McVay, no NFL group this yr scored greater than the Rams — a indisputable fact that’s all the extra superb when you think about that, a yr in the past, no NFL group scored fewer factors than the exact same Rams.

Sunday marked the last stroke in the Rams season-long transformation, and now, a playoff run may very well be on the horizon. The Falcons have the potential for offensive fireworks, however they’ve been inconsistent for a lot of the season. The Rams, in the meantime, have proven the functionality to beat anybody, if their offense is clicking.

A victory in opposition to the Falcons would imply a visit back to Minnesota, the place the Rams suffered their worst lack of the season six weeks in the past. From there, a Super Bowl bid could be only one win away.

Perhaps that also sounds a bit insane, given the place the Rams stood a yr in the past.

But as the Rams take the area in opposition to the Falcons subsequent Saturday night time, the vibrant lights of the NFL playoffs will lastly return to Los Angeles. And with their wunderkind coach and their remodeled offense, the Rams are decided to shine.

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