Chargers in uncharted waters on Sunday

Sunday is a game of unknowns. The San Diego Chargers face a team that they have not encountered on their own turf since the dawn of time – or more accurately since they were known by a different name. Remember the Houston Oilers? Yup, that is them. Coming to town on Sunday as the Tennessee Titans.

The rivalry is actually ancient. The two teams played each other in the old AFL, when the Bolts were known as the Los Angeles Chargers. They met 18 times during that span and even clashed in the AFL Championship in 1960 and 1961 – both Oiler victories.

Not since 1993 have the Chargers faced off against this opponent at Qualcomm Stadium. They faced them back in 1998 at Vanderbilt Stadium when they were still known as the Oilers.

Jeff Fisher, the Tennessee Titans head coach has never won against the Chargers or a Marty Schottenheimer coached team. Fisher is 0-1 against the Chargers and 0-2 versus Schottenheimer.

It makes the whole rendezvous a bit strange.

"You have to get to know your opponent and that in itself is a big challenge this week for us because we don't know San Diego," Fisher admitted.

Fisher did admit that his staff has a ken understanding of where the Chargers strength lies and will rely heavily on them to relay that information to his players.

The Chargers are just as miffed by their opponents, especially when the subject of who will oppose them at quarterback comes up.

The Chargers coaching staff is relying on game tapes to fill them in on the Billy Volek, who may or may not play depending on the health of Steve McNair.

While they have done their due diligence in preparing for Volek, Schottenheimer is not ready to concede that McNair will sit this one out.

McNair, after all, is not known to miss many games, and the Chargers coach knows it.

"Our approach is with Steve," said Schottenheimer. "I have heard all the stories about he gets off the bus in a walking boot and he takes a crutch and he walks into the locker room and he doesn't show up out there early, and then the other team is saying we don't have to deal with McNair today and all of a sudden he comes jogging out on the field and throws for 300 yards.

"I tell you what, I will only believe he doesn't play when the game is over.

"I think I know him pretty well. I don't know him personally well, but his history speaks volumes. He is arguably one of the toughest guys in the National Football League, irrespective of the position he plays, I mean, you have nothing for great admiration for him."

His presence alone will make the job tougher on the San Diego defense. Since 1995, McNair leads all quarterbacks in rushing yards and attempts. He is also in the top five of the best records category of active quarterbacks with 50 or more starts.

Needless to say, the Chargers will be see new faces this Sunday. As of Wednesday, the Titans remain as much an enigma to the Chargers as San Diego does to Tennessee.

While both teams sit at 1-2 on the year, only one team is surprised to be there. Whether Volek or McNair plays on Sunday, the Titans are looking for a win to get back into playoff contention. San Diego is just looking for a win and some confidence.

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