Vegas feels pretty good about Chargers, but LA doesn’t


The oddsmakers, such as the ones at Westgate Las Vegas Superbook, seem to like the chances of the Chargers taking it all. Sounds like most bettors have placed future bets on an NFL team nobody truly cares about here in Los Angeles.

Contrary to popular belief, a majority of those in the money-making, casino business seem to believe in this myth that those who often pick the favorites instead of the underdogs are wrong.

But, also, contrary to our city’s belief, the Chargers haven’t won this town ever since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles, where they’ll never be received with gratitude by a hostile crowd. See, this is a place where fans either cheer loudly for the Raiders or Rams, two heavy favorites to at least win their respective divisions.

The 6-to-1 odds show the Raiders winning the next Super Bowl—tied for sixth in the NFL with Denver, Minnesota and Seattle. Just about everyone in Southern California is betting on the Raiders, or even the Rams, who have completely supersized their defense this offseason.

There are big bucks being spent on the Chargers, but mostly there are not many fans investing their money or precious time in a football team that occupies a soccer stadium in Carson. And while Vegas casinos anoint them, L.A. fans don’t even show up to watch them on Sundays.

The Vegas books have the Chargers listed at 22-1, but mostly everybody here at home excluded them from the list, putting a new-look team on the do-not-care list. It’s only those so-called experts eyeing at a team and raising the bar high, but it’s mostly people here at home painfully laughing at the Chargers.

By the time next season begins, the Chargers—whether you believe it or not—are legitimately equipped to contend in the AFC West. Still, even with stability and a cast of immense talent, they are a long way from being a glory team.

Not everyone agrees with the argument that the Chargers have the backbone to hang with an ambitious Raiders team. The likelihood of this happening seems promising in part because of an offseason upheaval by their own efforts. But anyplace outside of San Diego, fans ignore the wishes of a franchise impelled by greed and not loyalty, turning its back on a community South of the Border.

The folks back home are salty after their own NFL team fled North to Hollywood, in the anticipation of reaping financial benefits with a change of scenery. Yes, it feels weird and, quite honestly, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever as the Chargers make themselves at home.

They came up with an advertising slogan to help promote their product, but fans are utterly apathetic and could care less. They started a “Fight for LA” campaign that aired locally on TV on Sundays during games, but fans didn’t really bother to watch them, let alone a commercial ad.

This was equivalent to someone going out to beg from door to door and walking away with no cash in his or her pocket after being rejected by people who simply weren’t interested. The Chargers, alas, are trying their hardest to make an entire city love them, even though the majority here won’t love them back.

That’s been the plan since they arrived in town committed to playing in an unfriendly environment. It was of the utmost significance for management to reportedly spent tens of millions of dollars in upgrades on StubHub Stadium, but it was an absolute waste and botched attempt to enhance fan experience.

Some might see it as bad karma after the Chargers foolishly deserted a city that showed nothing but admiration if not tough love when they looked wholly awful and put on a putrid performance on Sundays. In an act of desperation, they used different strategies that haven’t really worked to their advantage to sell out a stadium and increase TV ratings.

After a horrendous 0-4 start last season, the Chargers went 9-7 and fell short of the playoffs for a fourth straight year. The end results were far better than their 4-12 campaign and still there’s room for improvement. And there are a lot of bettors and gamblers waiting to say, “See, I told you so,” to those who laugh and don’t believe.

Unlike prior seasons, when the Chargers were inadequate offensively and spiritless defensively, they’ve earned a little respect from those who’ve put money on them.

With the No. 17 overall pick in the draft, the Chargers selected Derwin James, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound safety. The Florida State standout is coming into next season with the expectations that he’ll fortify the secondary. He’s a freakish defender with speed to go after the quarterback and prevent big plays.

He’s a relentless tackler, his exceptional size is a byproduct of his talent, his ability to stop the run or rush the passer is punishment for the opposing team. His versatility and intensity provide a physical presence, next to Jaylen Watkins who signed a one-year deal with the Chargers.

Maybe, just maybe, the Vegas experts have a valid point, but this town isn’t gambling their hard-earned money on the Chargers. Vegas is content with taking the risk that a nonexistent L.A. team will somehow and amazingly stun the world and reach the Super Bowl. People out here, throughout the Southland, are discontent with an ex-San Diego team sharing a home with the well-liked Rams.

A prolific quarterback, Philip Rivers is probably one of the best passers, accompanied by running back Melvin Gordon. It’s quite telling the Chargers did whatever it took to build around a high-powered offense, and they have certainly been busy this offseason. It was announced that Los Angeles signed a slew of tryout participants—21 undrafted players to be precise.

So now their championship aspirations have been bolstered by the additions of defensive linemen, defensive backs and wide receivers, along with punter Toby Baker and quarterback Nic Shimonek from Texas Tech.

Obviously, though, under his progressive leadership, Anthony Lynn is now working on the sideline with new faces, a new coaching staff. The structure might make it a smooth transition for a team looking to pull in the same direction.

A new season is still months from now, and already the people on the fabulous Vegas strip are wide awake, while the L.A. homers  are sound asleep.

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Jonathan Mathis as known as The Sports Judge is the founder of SoCalChronicle. He is a professional Sports writer, contributor, Youtuber, podcaster @ ASAP Network, and co-host of Gonzo & The Judge Sports Talk. Follow the SportsJudge@


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