In fact, year three under coach Norv Turner has seen three 2-3 starts. And how did that work out for the Chargers?
In 2007 they won the AFC West title and advanced to the AFC Championship Game. In 2008 they won the AFC West title and advanced to the AFC divisional playoff game.
In 2009? That remains to be seen, and yes, the dynamics are different with the Denver Broncos starting 6-0.
But the Chargers have been down this road before, and Sunday's stretch of highway is somewhat forgiving in offering the struggling Raiders.
"Each year is kind of a different deal," Turner said of three straight 2-3 beginnings. "This year we lost Jamal Williams and Hardwick in the first game, our center and our nose man, two Pro Bowl players. Then, we actually came out of the Raiders game with five starters who ended up missing games. That contributed; we played good teams and we lost close games.
"There's always a multiple, number of reasons that you can point at, but we have put that behind us."
And the Chargers are coming off their most complete game of the season after thumping the Chiefs 37-7.
"We solved the issues in the defensive front, where we had Jamal as our anchor for so many years," Turner said. "We've kind of gone to about a six-man rotation in there in the defensive line. We got a guy we released this summer, Ian Scott back. We had Travis Johnson that we traded for, and he has gotten back healthy and he's able to play. He's not 100 percent but he's able to play. So, we've been able to shore up a little bit of that defensive front, which, obviously, we struggled with the first couple of games, not only in the Raider game, but against Baltimore and Miami, we had a tough time with the running game."
But the Chargers aren't going to run off and hide. They have too many offensive weapons and a defense which is just maybe starting to find its footing.
Combine that with a belief the Chargers have taken this path before and there is surprisingly little panic among the Bolts.
"I attribute it to their experience, their mental toughness, and we're a talented group," said Turner, who has been under pressure -- more so than his previous two years -- with the recent slow start. "It's nice, obviously, to get all your guys back and be healthy so that you can continue to work to be at your best."
Coach Norv Turner
But first up is Oakland, and despite their shaky play, they got the Chargers' attention in the opener. The Chargers were manhandled throughout most of the game before coming back to win it in the waning minutes.
"It's a very physical group up front defensively," Turner said. "The secondary is outstanding. They did a good job offensively running the ball and keeping us off the field. So, it was the type of game I expected it to be."
Chargers fans are expecting the Chargers to get hot -- like in '07 when they won their final six regular-season games, or in '08, when they won their final four.
"We're going to finish the season strong," wide receiver Vincent Jackson said. "We're going to stick together. We're a family. We started this thing together and we hope to finish it together. So, that's our mindset."
And really, the Chargers have no choice as they aim for their fourth straight visit to the playoffs. Even if for the third straight year they have to do it the hard way.
"That's what this league is about now," Jackson said. "You never know who's going to be a powerhouse and everybody comes in preparing and expecting to win their division and go on to the playoffs.
"Where we're at right now, is not where we foresaw ourselves at earlier this year, but it is what it is. We're going to take one game at a time and we're hopeful that things work out in the way they have in the past. We've been pretty fortunate so all we can control is what we do on the field right now."
SERIES HISTORY: 100th regular-season meeting. Raiders lead series 54-43-2. The Chargers have won 12 straight and the last six at Qualcomm Stadium. The Raiders and Chargers have met once in the playoffs, in the 1980 AFC title game, in which the Raiders prevailed. The Chargers had to rally to defeat the Raiders, 24-20, in their earlier meeting this season.
--What are the reasons the Chargers' running game was slow to develop? Coach Norv Turner has the answers.
"Well, you can go right back to the opening game," he said. "We started the season in Oakland, and our center, our right guard and our tailback were all injured and missed at least the next two games. And our center has not returned. We have a young right guard that has come back and played. The combination of the change and continuity there and the schedule we played, and the teams the way we played them.
"We played Baltimore and Miami and we had a lot of yards in both games, moved the ball and scored points. They're not teams that you're going to zero in and just run the ball every down against. The way the Pittsburgh game went, we struggled to run the ball. Over the last couple weeks, we've gotten back into little bit more of a balanced mode where we're getting a little better run production."
LB Tim Dobbins
"(That's) his best game since I've been here," Turner said. "(He) was outstanding against the run and the pass."
With Burnett still ailing, Dobbins could get his second straight start.
--QB Philip Rivers is coming off his best start of the year, one in which he compiled a 122.6 rating while throwing for three touchdowns and 268 yards with no interceptions. It helped that Rivers wasn't sacked in Kansas City after being nailed five times the previous game against the Broncos.
--WR Vincent Jackson said the team's 12-game winning streak over the Raiders isn't the focus in the locker room. "I didn't know exactly how many it is," he said. "It's not really a big deal to us."
--The Chargers need to keep an eye on DE Richard Seymour, their old nemesis from his days with the Patriots. Seymour had two sacks and six tackles when they teams squared off in the season opener. He's tied for the team lead with four sacks.
--Steve Gregory, a former safety, is taking to his new responsibilities as the nickel back.
"Wherever they tell me to play, I'm going to play, and I'm going to do my best," he said.
--Raiders LB Kirk Morrison and WR Chaz Schilens, who has missed the season with injury, are both San Diego State grads.
--Turner went 9-23 as Raiders head coach from 2004-05.
--Oakland owner Al Davis was a wide receivers coach for the Chargers from 1960-62 and was instrumental in the signing of Hall of Famer Lance Alworth.
--The Chargers cut DB Simeon Castille, who played special teams against Kansas City after being signed off the practice squad the day before. It re-signed CB Dante Hughes, who was signed last week before being cut for Castille.
--OT Joe Toledo was added to the practice squad.
--Sunday marks the end of a three-game swing through the AFC West. The Chargers lost to the Broncos before beating the Chiefs last week. The Chargers only have two divisional games remaining after Sunday, which could make it more difficult to make up that three-game deficit to the first-place Broncos.
BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- Number of wins QB Philip Rivers has in eight starts against the Raiders.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They beat the Eagles, who I think most people consider one of the best teams in the league. That's the Raiders team we're going to prepare for." -- Coach Norv Turner in building up the Raiders, despite their 2-5 record.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SS Steve Gregory
In the wake of releasing starting strong safety Clinton Hart, the Chargers moved rookie Kevin Ellison over to Hart's spot and switched safety Steve Gregory to the nickel cornerback spot. Paul Oliver also worked some at safety and the results were impressive.
With defensive coordinator Ron Rivera calling numerous blitzes from corners and safeties, safety Eric Weddle had a sack; Oliver and Gregory had picks.
Antoine Cason, a second-year pro, was the odd man out in this realignment. But the Chargers don't plan to tinker with the success they had last week.
--P Mike Scifres was a full participant in practice which was a good sign. Scifres has been battling a groin injury, but may be past it.
--WR Buster Davis, a former first-round pick, continues to be looked over on game days. He has yet to suit up, despite being healthy on most game days. His time in San Diego could be come to an end after this season.
--OLB Shawne Merriman is showing more speed than earlier in the year. He still is looking for his first sack of the season. He was limited in Wednesday's practice with a foot injury but it is not considered serious.
--RG Jeromey Clary hopes to build off his performance in Kansas City in which he had his best game of the year.
--WR Chris Chambers needs a decent game Sunday or he will continue to lose snaps to Malcom Floyd. Chambers had two drops Sunday, including one that would have gone for a touchdown.
RB LaDainian Tomlinson
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Chargers pass defense vs. Raiders TE Zach Miller.
The Chargers are notorious for having trouble covering tight ends and this week should be no different. Although the team hopes its new look on the back end will deliver a different result with new starting SS Kevin Ellison likely tracking Miller, who had 96 receiving yards on six catches against the Chargers in the opener. Last year against the Chargers, Miller had a 95-yard game. With Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell having accuracy problems down field, look for him to try to involve Miller heavily in the passing game. It's going to be up to Ellison and the linebackers to keep Miller's production down.
Chargers pass rush vs. Raiders front line.
With the Chiefs falling behind early, the Chargers were able to work on their pass rush and blitzes and it was a welcome showing, resulting in four sacks. The secondary got into the act with numerous blitzes and OLB Shaun Phillips got his first two sacks of the season. The Raiders' front hasn't blocked with any consistency and Russell looks like a quarterback with happy feet. The Chargers will go after Russell in various ways out of their 3-4 alignment to get Russell jittery and not allow him to go through his reads. OLB Shawne Merriman doesn't have a sack this season but he always seems to play well against the Raiders.
Chargers run defense vs. Raiders RBs Michael Bush and Justin Fargas.
The Chargers were exposed up the middle in the wake of losing Pro Bowl DT Jamal Williams. But lately the rotation of Ian Scott, Travis Johnson and Ogemdi Nwagbuo has fortified that area and no longer are gaping holes being seen up the middle. With Russell struggling, it figures that the Raiders will offer their two-headed monster. Both Bush and Fargas have 56 carries for 204 yards, with Bush adding two touchdowns -- one of which came against the Chargers in the opener.
INJURY IMPACT: DT Ogemdi Nwagbuo (ankle) was limited in his practice and could be compromised on Sunday. The Chargers can ill-afford any more injuries to the defensive line. DL Travis Johnson (groin) will be limited in practice this week but should play Sunday. He won't be at 100 percent. C Nick Hardwick (ankle) is starting to do some work on the side but still isn't expected to return until mid-November. ILB Kevin Burnett (ankle) didn't practice and will likely be down this week.