Chargers seek the magic number

Six. It is a magic number in and around San Diego. Six represents the number of wins that Chargers fans want for their team at the bye week. While there is no doubt that the players want to be 6-3 heading into the bye week, the Chargers still have to face the Oakland Raiders and earn win number five.

Meanwhile, in Oakland, the Raiders are looking to do something they haven't done in the 44 year history of the franchise. They are looking to bounce back from a season where they are 2-5 or worse to make the playoffs.

Only three teams since 1990 and the expanded playoff format have ever done it and all have won that elusive eighth game.

It just so happens that the Raiders-Chargers rivalry meets up at critical junctures for each team. One team is trying to climb out of the cellar while another team is on the brink of something special.

"The Raiders are always going to be tough," Marty Schottenheimer said.

"They are playing at a pretty good level," Oakland coach Norv Turner countered.

And the games are usually close. Two of the last four meetings have gone into overtime and the point differential last year was plus four in favor of the Bolts.

"This one coming up against Oakland is huge," Schottenheimer acknowledged. "And past performances don't have any impact on what happens on Sunday."

Oakland will be trying to snap a 12-game road losing skid (13 if you include the Super Bowl) and Qualcomm may not be as friendly as it has in the past. This Sunday will likely mark the first time since 1977 that the game has not been aired on television – due to the non-sellout crowd.

The reason is the Chargers asked that two tickets be bought to subsequent games to gain entry on Sunday.

Therefore, it is likely that more Chargers fans will be in the stands than at any other time during this rivalry. In past year's, it has been almost an even split as the Raider Nation has flexed its muscles down at the "Q".

Chalk it up to the new ticket policy but many families will likely still stay away. The prospect of the Raiders playing the Chargers on Halloween doesn't exactly inspire trust that the day will go on without incident.

There will be extra security personnel and police officers roaming the parking lot and stadium as the team put its best effort forward to ensure a safe experience.

And it also points back to the ticket plan which again requires two extra games be bought. While it prevented the game from selling out, it added more Chargers fans who want to see those other two games.

And the players and coaches are beginning to feel like they actually have a home field advantage.

"I am glad we have them down here first," Schottenheimer said. "We will have our fans. I get the sense that our football team is understanding the value of having 65,000 fans in the stands and the majority of them are pulling for you."

It may be a stretch to see 65,000 as they have not announced crowds of more than 60K this year, but the difference is the fans are coming out and supporting their team.

Back at Murphy Canyon:

On Wednesday, Schottenheimer was not at all pleased with the way his team practiced.

"Raider week," Schottenheimer pleaded.

He knows the Chargers can't afford to be lulled by any team. Perhaps the extra day off on Monday affected the team adversely. They came off a big win in Carolina and did a little too much celebrating when there is still work that needs to be done.

Schottenheimer, however, alluded to a cure but never revealed it. He simply said he had a way to fix it. It is Raider week. If that doesn't get the blood pumping, what will?

Lightning Quicks:

  • Drayton Florence will start on Sunday – provided he is healthy. Despite a solid showing by Sammy Davis in relief against Carolina, Schottenheimer acknowledged that Florence would get the nod if he was able.

    It isn't a huge deal as Davis will rotate in and play a ton of nickel with the Raiders expected to pass often. But the message is still the same. Davis needs to play well consistently to regain the coaches' confidence.


  • No surprise that LaDainian Tomlinson will play on Sunday. He will likely do a light workout on Friday in preparation for Sunday's game. It is not likely that the team will sit him at all over the next two weeks.


  • Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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