Football fans haven’t seen two Los Angeles NFL teams go head to head since 1994.
The quarterback matchup awaiting them this Sunday could make it worth the long wait.
The Chargers’ Philip Rivers and the Rams’ Jared Goff will be front and center at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
Rivers has seen this plotline before — an experienced veteran facing an emerging star — which is why he hasn’t dwelled much on the matchup.
“Shoot, I’ve got enough to worry about just trying to score points. I imagine it will be a heck of a game,” said Rivers, who will make his 196th consecutive start Sunday.
Rivers and Goff are at the helm of two of the league’s more prolific offenses. The Chargers (1-1) are second in the league in completions over 20 yards since the start of last season with 72, while the unbeaten Rams (2-0) are sixth with 67.
Goff is second in average yards per attempt among QBs with 10 or more starts (8.10) while Rivers is third (7.96).
They also have nearly identical passer ratings, with Goff’s 100.7 just edging Rivers’ 98.8.
“To me, what seems to stick out is what a comfort level he has in that offense, and being in a good flow,” Rivers said of Goff. “They’re doing a lot of things to move him around in games. You’ve seen that keeps him on the move. He’s one of the young guys that you imagine is going to be around a long time.”
Goff is unbeaten in five starts against AFC teams and has won six of his last seven regular-season starts with a 103.3 passer rating, 15 touchdowns and only four interceptions. There are still some who wonder, though, if his success should be attributed to him or coach Sean McVay’s system.
Some quarterbacks might take offense at being called a system quarterback, but Goff has embraced it.
“Yeah, I’ll be a product of the system if we win games, as much as I want. We just continue to go out there and keep playing, keep putting up 30 points and call me whatever you want,” he said. “I feel like I’m just continuing to develop and continuing to get better.”
Rivers has also been playing at a high level. He is one of three quarterbacks to have over 600 passing yards (680) and six or more touchdowns (six) this season. He also has thrown three or more touchdown passes in his last three starts.
Goff and Rivers may be sharing the same city, but Goff made it sound like they have rarely talked. Goff did say that the majority of his childhood was spent watching Rivers’ career.
“He’s a guy I’ve tried to steal things from, for sure. The way he plays the game and the way he works. I’ve heard nothing but great things from people who’ve played with him,” Goff said.
Both quarterbacks face challenges this week from the opposing defenses. The Rams have allowed only one touchdown in the first two games and haven’t surrendered a point over the past six quarters. They also possess one of the top pass rushes in the league featuring defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald.
Rivers is one of the quicker passers in the NFL. According to the league’s next gen stats, he is averaging 2.6 seconds to throw since last season, which is below the average of 2.7 seconds. Goff is averaging 2.93 seconds, which is the third-longest in the league.
Rivers said the challenge this week will be making sure his receivers have time to separate in coverage because the Rams are mainly playing man coverage.
“It’s not going to be those quick, gimme throws that you find in some defenses where you just catch it and throw little spot routes,” he said. “It’s going to be winning one-on-one matchups — outside, inside — and me making good decisions.”
The Chargers’ pass rush remains inconsistent with defensive tackle Joey Bosa out with a foot injury, but they do have a formidable secondary in safety Derwin James and cornerback Casey Hayward.
Rams pass game coordinator Shane Waldron said one of Goff’s strengths is his field vision.
“It’s great to have a quarterback that’s able to improvise or if someone does come free out of the normal rhythm of the play, he’s able to find them,” he said.
Follow Joe Reedy at www.twitter.com/joereedy
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP—NFL