Bleacher Report recently released who they thought would be Dark horse candidates to win each division. What do you know, both LA teams are pegged to be dark-horse picks to win their respective divisions this upcoming season.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers let go of franchise quarterback Philip Rivers this offseason and hopefully drafted a new one in Justin Herbert. There has been discussion of whether Herbert or Tyrod Taylor would start the season under center, but Antony Lynn has assured fans that the job is Taylor’s to lose. While Taylor may be no Philip Rivers and has bounced around different teams during his career, the Bills were the last team to give him a shot to start full-time and ended up making the playoffs. He’ll have plenty of options to work with in Austin Ekeler, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and a healthy Hunter Henry.
On the other side of the ball the team added some necessary pieces in CB Chris Harris Jr., DT Linval Joseph, and first-rounder LB Kenneth Murray to help build off a defense that allowed the sixth-fewest yards last season. They’ll also be getting back safety, Derwin James, in the secondary after he missed 11 games last year due to a stress fracture in his foot.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have had some losses of their own this offseason as they have revamped both their offense and defense. Todd Gurley was released by the team and signed with his home team Atlanta Falcons while Brandin Cooks was shipped off to the Houston Texans. They drafted a replacement for Gurley in Cam Akers out of Florida State and they still have backup Malcolm Brown as well as Darrell Henderson. It’s unknown who will garner the bulk of the carries this season but the trio will hopefully be able to take the pressure off QB Jared Goff who had to carry the offense last season.
While they also lost some impact players on defense, the Rams have Aaron Donald who will continue to draw double teams which could allow newcomers Leonard Floyd and Terrell Lewis to rush the outside and pressure opposing quarterbacks. They also have All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey and John Johnson’s return from an injury paired with Taylor Rapp who had a great rookie season would pair well together.
Both teams seem well equipped to sneak their way to the top of their divisions. With the Las Vegas Raiders having a suspect defense and the Denver Broncos relying on a young and inexperienced Drew Lock who only has five NFL games under his belt, the reigning champion Kansas City Chiefs figure to the toughest competition to make it to the top. Meanwhile in the NFC West the Arizona Cardinals are still trying to put everything together while the Seattle Seahawks who are always competitive have some question marks in their offensive line that could lead to issues. Just like the Chargers, the Rams have a tough opponent they’ll have to go through in the San Francisco 49ers.