NFL Week 6 notes: No home-field advantage in L.A.; who’s No. 2 in the AFC?

Pittsburgh Steelers players celebrate a touchdown to the delight of their many fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night for a game against the Chargers.
Pittsburgh Steelers players celebrate a touchdown to the delight of their many fans at Dignity Health Sports Park on Sunday night for a game against the Chargers.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

What a bruising Sunday for NFL teams in Los Angeles.

The Rams get shut down by San Francisco, the Chargers get smacked in the mouth by Pittsburgh and a third-string Steelers quarterback, and both visiting teams saying they felt like home games.

Those crowd-composition issues are the nature of football in L.A., abandoned by the league for two decades. With shrinking attention spans, and the ever-improving TV experience, it’s tough to get fans off their couches (or phones) and into stadiums. This city is filled with fans of every team. What’s more, the 49ers and Steelers fan bases come out in droves wherever their teams play.

I was at Rams-49ers and would say it was a 50/50 crowd that looked more 49ers-heavy because of the red seats at the Coliseum. Predictably, Steelers fans and their Terrible Towels took over Dignity Health Sports Park.


In a majority of games at the Coliseum, the Rams have a distinct homefield advantage. It isn’t overwhelming, but it’s beginning to build. The turning point was the Monday night game against Kansas City last season, the one that was moved from Mexico City because of poor field conditions.

The Chargers have never enjoyed a homefield advantage here. A great team can overcome that. But with an average team, when every feather on the scale counts, the cumulative effect of that can be really deflating.

After wins over sub-.500 Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Cleveland, many wondered if unbeaten 49ers were for real, until their 20-7 win over Rams.

Oct. 13, 2019

Seahawks could get even better

Say this for the Seattle Seahawks: They’re closers.

Four of their five victories have been by four points or fewer.

A third of the way through the season, and Russell Wilson is a leading MVP candidate. He’s completing 72.5% of his passes with 17 touchdowns (three of them rushing) and no interceptions.

And that Pete Carroll defense? It’s only going to get better with defensive lineman Jarran Reed coming off suspension this week. He had 10½ sacks last season.

Baker Mayfield limps into bye week

A lot of people wanted so much for the Browns to be good this season. So far, Cleveland is a disappointment.


The Browns started well against the Seahawks but wound up blowing a 20-6 lead. Not only that, but quarterback Baker Mayfield is limping into the bye week with a sore hip.

Waiting for them on the other side of their week off? New England, in Foxborough.

Who’s No. 2 in the AFC?

Clearly, the Patriots are the top team in the AFC, and probably the league.

But who’s the No. 2 team in the conference?

After some thinking Monday morning on the “Dan Patrick Show,” I said Baltimore.

Patrick suggested making Baltimore the No. 3 team in the AFC and leaving the No. 2 spot blank. That’s the head-and-shoulders advantage the Patriots enjoy.

We’ve seen this movie before.

Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram dives for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at M&T Stadium.
Baltimore Ravens running back Mark Ingram dives for a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday at M&T Stadium.
(Gail Burton / Associated Press)

Four years later ...

Wow, the top of the 2015 draft took a beating Sunday.

No. 1 pick Jameis Winston had six turnovers for Tampa Bay in a loss to Carolina.

No. 2 pick Marcus Mariota was benched by Tennessee in a 16-0 blanking by Denver.

How to beat the Chiefs

Kansas City has lost two in a row at home, and teams are beating the Chiefs by playing keep-away from Patrick Mahomes. Houston had the ball for two-thirds of Sunday’s win.

The Chiefs’ defense is surrendering 5.2 yards per carry, which is hideous.

Unless there’s a quick fix, Denver is going to run all over Kansas City on Thursday night with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.

Jets keep Darnold safe

Here’s a unit that turned things around quickly, at least for a game: the New York Jets’ offensive line.

A week after the Jets gave up 10 sacks to Philadelphia, they ably protected Sam Darnold (and his padded spleen) in an upset of Dallas.


Are these the real Cowboys?

Like the Rams, the Cowboys have lost three in a row after a 3-0 start. Then again, how good were the Cowboys, really? They beat the New York Giants at the end of Eli Manning’s run, then Washington and Miami, who are pitiful.

So defeats to New Orleans, Green Bay and even the Jets amounted to a market correction.

New York Jets' Jordan Jenkins, top, takes down Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

Bad math for the Falcons

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw four touchdown passes against Arizona on Sunday.

That’s great, except that Ryan’s team is giving up an average of four touchdowns and a field goal every game.

The Falcons are ranked last in points given up, at 31.

Dan Quinn could be doomed

That’s what spells doom for Falcons coach Dan Quinn, whose specialty is defense. This team hasn’t been the same since its meltdown in the Super Bowl, and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan leaving to become coach of the 49ers.

It won’t get any easier for the Falcons, whose next four games are against the Rams, Seattle, then road games at New Orleans and Carolina.

Waiting in the wings

If the Falcons do fire Quinn, they’ve got at least three guys who could replace him in the short term: assistants Dirk Koetter, Mike Mularkey and Raheem Morris, each of whom has been an NFL head coach.

Koetter, who has the most recent experience in that role, would be the most likely choice, with Morris taking over as defensive coordinator.


The Styx song “Renegade,” an anthem for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was played as a joke. But some members of the home-standing Chargers didn’t find it so funny.

Oct. 14, 2019

Still rivals after all these years

On Sunday, Times teammate Gary Klein and I wrote a story exploring the decades-old rivalry between the Rams and 49ers, and we talked to a bunch of memorable players from both teams about their recollections. Some wound up on the cutting-room floor, including this memory from longtime Rams defensive back LeRoy Irvin:

“I went to Jerry Rice’s Hall of Fame induction party in Canton, and he walked up to me and said, ‘How did you get in here?’” Irvin said. “I said, ‘I’m sorry I couldn’t have contributed more.’ Because he only beat me once for a touchdown in his career. We had an argument about how many times he got me for a touchdown. I said it was only once.”

Old rivalries never die.

Poor timing

Received an email on behalf of a website that lists Los Angeles as one of the top 10 cities for NFL fans.

Not Sunday.