For Super Bowl LVII run, want Herbert or Stafford at QB?

With the Chargers only three days off before their Week 2 road game against AFC West rivals Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday and Super Bowl champion Rams having nine days off to reflect on their loss to Buffalo, the Chargers beat the writer Jeff Miller, The Rams, Writer Gary Klein, and Columnist Dylan Hernández discuss what happened and what lies ahead.

Just considering this season, which quarterback would you rather lead to Super Bowl LVII – Justin Herbert of the Chargers or Matthew Stafford of the Rams?

Miller: Justin Herbert and it’s not even close. I can’t imagine anyone picking Stafford in that situation. On Sunday against Las Vegas, Herbert threw at least three passes that defied almost every description. We’re talking about a player who could go down in NFL history as the greatest passer. It could actually happen that Herbert wins the MVP award in 2022.

Small: Come on. For real? Justin Herbert was outstanding last season and he’s off to a great start. The young man will make a lot of money and maybe win some championships. But he hasn’t done it yet. He hasn’t played a playoff game, let alone won it. Stafford proved last season, especially in the playoffs and the Super Bowl, that he can lead a team to a championship.

Hernandez: When you’re a beat writer, especially one who covers a team as thoroughly as Gary, you sometimes have no idea what’s going on outside your bubble. So, dear readers, please take it easy on our friend Gary. Excuse him for his absolutely ridiculous opinion. Herbert is a generational talent. I’m not going to belittle Stafford, but he just isn’t in the same class as Herbert.

For those who are under more pressure this week, the Rams are threatened with a 2-0 loss at home to the Falcons or the Chargers are also drawing 1-0 at AFC West rivals Chiefs.

Miller: To be honest, I don’t think either team should feel any extra pressure. It’s only Week 2 for the Rams and they’re double-digit favorites at home. However, they are the ones who can afford to lose less. But it’s not like they’re playing Tom Brady. The Chargers are not expected to win in KC and can go there knowing that a win would be a bonus.

Small: The Rams have more pressure. They are the defending champions of the Super Bowl. Under coach Sean McVay, they lost an opening game for the first time. The Falcons are rebuilding from a loss that saw them lose a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter. The Rams’ loss to the Bills was embarrassing. A loss to the Falcons would be a valid reason for Rams fans to hit the panic button. The Chiefs are real contenders for the Super Bowl. A Chargers win in Kansas City would be a great win for coach Brandon Staley, but a loss wouldn’t ruin the season.

Hernandez: As part of this season, Gary is right, the Rams are under more pressure. Overall, though, the stakes are higher for the Chargers. The Rams have already won their Super Bowl. The conjecture here is that the investment the Chargers made in their roster was in part a response to what the Rams did last season. So the Chargers were the less popular of the two teams. People see them as losers, much like how they see the Clippers. Fighting for a place in a crowded market, the Chargers are desperate to change their image.

Bills fans forced the Rams to go with a silent count. Raiders fans flocked to the Chargers game in droves. What can LA teams do to secure true home field advantage at SoFi Stadium?

Small: Luckily for the Rams and Chargers, they benefit from playing in a massive media market with access to millions of potential fans. Unfortunately for the teams, the Southland is home to transplants from all parts of the United States — and around the world — not to mention legions of Raiders and San Francisco 49ers fans. As long as Rams fans are ready – and who can blame them? – to sell their tickets to offset the cost of their season ticket packages, it will be difficult to eliminate the presence of opposing fans.

Miller: I would suggest playing in LA and having continued success for another half century. The NFL abandoned that market for two decades and then came back in full force when very few people here cared if pro football would ever come back. It will take time to undo the damage done. Much time. In the short term, no, there is nothing either of these teams can do to fix this. Both of them have to come to terms with it.

Chargers fans cheer as Keenan Allen walks past the stands.

Chargers fans loved the season opener at SoFi Stadium, but they had plenty of company from Raiders fans.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Hernandez: I’m there with Jeff. LA teams will win and need to win for a long time. Last year when the Rams were at their Super Bowl, my son’s third grader convinced the students in her class to dress up in the colors of the Rams. Maybe a few of that class have become fans and will grow up to be season ticket holders. This process will take a while.

What did we learn about NFC West in Week 1?

Hernandez: The Division is as weak as we imagined. As bad as the Rams looked against the Bills, they should win the NFC West.

Miller: Wasn’t NFC West really good and deep not so long ago? Nobody can win now. I’d be very surprised if the Rams didn’t control that division this season.

Small: But the Rams could be flirting with a Super Bowl hangover. The 49ers might have been wise to stick with Jimmy Garoppolo. The cardinals are still the cardinals. The Seahawks and the Division miss Russell Wilson’s fashion sense.

What did we learn about the AFC West in Week 1?

Hernandez: Basically, this is the opposite of NFC West. One wonders if the Chargers could be to the AFC West what the San Diego Padres are to baseball’s National League West, with their roster upgrades inevitably wasted because they’re in an unwinnable division.

Miller: I maintain my belief that any team could go 3-3 in division play, with each game being decided by a point and requiring a few overtimes. This Thursday Chargers-Chiefs matchup is already feeling like a classic — two full days before it even kicks off.

Small: The Chargers invested wisely in defense supplements. Davante Adams is pretty good, even if he doesn’t catch passes from Aaron Rodgers. Patrick Mahomes is worth every penny on his contract. Russell Wilson knows how to make a stadium entrance. For Super Bowl LVII run, want Herbert or Stafford at QB?

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