Home is where the Chargers need wins

The season kicks off this weekend for the Chargers against Dallas and one thing that head coach Marty Schottenheimer has stressed is winning at home.

The Bolts went 7-1 at Qualcomm during the 2004 season, and two years ago were 5-3 with a 2-6 mark sandwiched in between.

"Our home games become extremely important to us," Schottenheimer admitted. "We went 7-1 last year. We have great fan support. We are going to have a very good go at it at home because we have a very hard schedule on the road."

With the team making five trips to the East coast (New England, Philadelphia, New York (Jets), Washington and Indianapolis) this year, winning at home is essential.

They will travel a total of 29,546 miles, fourth most in the NFL. Only Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco travel more.

"We are here at home," Schottenheimer said. "At home, with our crowd, it will certainly be to our benefit."

The beginning of the season, particularly in September, has to bring about fruitful games in the win column. A brutal month of October looms.

They have the fifth toughest schedule in the league, and that is with three teams in the AFC West who had considerably down years.

A sellout awaits on Sunday and ironically only one game in their first four has not sold out – the Giants game.

The excitement of fans in the stands that are wearing blue and gold is not lost on the team.

"I am happy I am here at a time when they are really excited about it," Pro Bowl running back LaDainian Tomlinson said. "Enjoy the game."

But the Cowboys are no pushover on opening day on the road. They sport a 16-7 record in 23 road openers and 30-14-1 overall. By contrast, the Chargers are 13-5 in homer openers, and winners of four straight, and 26-19 in their season openers.

You have to go back to 1992 to find the last game they lost in an Opening Day home game.

Schottenheimer has an 11-7 record on Opening Day in 18 seasons as an NFL head coach and his 11 wins are the most among active coaches. Parcells brings a 7-10 record on Opening Day into Sunday's match-up.

These two coaching legends have paced the opposing sidelines three times during their illustrious careers and Schottenheimer has two victories over Parcell's squads. Schottenheimer's Cleveland Browns defeated Parcells' New York Giants, 35-33, in 1985 and his Kansas City Chiefs defeated the New England Patriots, 31-26, in 1995. In 1998, Parcells' New York Jets beat the Chiefs, 20-17.

With season tickets sales up, one thing is certain. The crowd won't be filled with the opposition's fans as it has been in the past. Instead of the 60-40 split, Chargers fans will dominate the stands and make it one of the tougher places to play.

"We don't have the Raiders fans," linebacker Donnie Edwards said with a smile. "We have the true Chargers fans coming in."

And they will need all the support they can get in 2005.


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