The Chargers were expected to compete for first place in the AFC West, but they are just as close to the cellar as they are to the division-leading Broncos. With just four games remaining, the Chargers are three games behind after losing five of their past six games.
The team's hope of advancing to the postseason is in serious jeopardy.
"I think it has been in jeopardy," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "I guess until you're mathematically out of it, you're not out of it."
But the Chargers' pulse is growing faint with time running out. That's why the current three-game homestand was so important and why the Chargers are in serious trouble after losing the first two.
FB Jacob Hester
"The message was don't give up and don't quit," said Tomlinson, who was restricted to 24 rushing yards, his second-lowest output of his stellar career. "This is not a team that is going to quit. We don't have those guys in our locker room.
"A lot of people around the league are probably thinking we are going to pack it in and give up but we won't."
The Chargers might have the right tonic with the Raiders. They have defeated their California rival 10 straight times.
And the feeling in the Chargers' locker room was it's a plus to have a short week.
"It's good," left tackle Marcus McNeill said. "The loss won't be out of our mind; we will still be upset about it. But it's always good to play Oakland."
But the Raiders will bring a decent defense, and the way the Chargers offense is struggling, it's no slam dunk facing Oakland will right the Chargers.
The Chargers had but 201 yards in the loss to Atlanta, which entered with the NFL's 24th-ranked defense. But the Chargers are no longer dominating at the line of scrimmage.
"We always pride ourselves in being physical," Tomlinson said. "Being the most physical team even if we don't win the game. We want to make sure that team knew who they were playing."
But those days are long gone in a dreadful season that is quickly circling the drain. Especially after squandering the first two games of a critical three-game home stretch.
"It's obviously very disappointing," coach Norv Turner said. "Not much else to say."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "That's part of the deal. We're all in this together from the standpoint of our football team. I promise you we're doing everything we can." -- Coach Norv Turner, on fans pointing fingers at the coaching staff.
TRENDING: Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is always eager to see the Raiders. In his career, Tomlinson's 1,815 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground are the most against any opponent. In the first meeting this year, Tomlinson rushed for a season-high 106 yards, one of only two times he has broken the century mark in 2008. On three occasions, Tomlinson rushed for four touchdowns against the Raiders and also has career highs in rushing yardage (243) and attempts (39) when playing Oakland.
--LG Kris Dielman missed the game with the flu. He is expected to play Thursday night.
--RB Michael Bennett has yet to be active since being picked up on waivers last month.
--FB Mike Tolbert (shoulder) could be down for the second straight game.
--OLB Marques Harris aggravated his hamstring injury and will be evaluated this week.
--DE Keith Grennan (fibula) was placed on IR.
--FB Billy Latsko was activated from the practice squad.