The Raiders have statistically the worst offense in the NFL in just about any category. But there was one instance this season where they rose above those offensive struggles and that was week six against the San Diego Chargers. Now they are set to face the Chargers for the second time this season and look to have a repeat performance.
In the first meeting between these two teams, the Chargers were at the top of their game with one of the best offenses and best defenses in the NFL. The Raiders were 0-4, coming off a bad loss to the Dolphins, and had just fired their head coach over the bye week.
Yet, the Raiders were able to hand with the Chargers and even take the lead late in the game before blowing that lead and losing by three points.
The success the Raiders had against the Chargers offers some hope for this team that they have a real chance to get their first win in San Diego this week.
"I think anytime you play a team once and you had a little bit of success, it give you a little bit of confidence," said Tony Sparano. "...any time you play a team once, as I just told our team, you formulate a book, you put a book together, and we have our players do that. And that book is of the players that i'm playing against, my individual match-ups and who they might be, the two or three guys and we study them. 'Is that the way they played me the first time and how did they approach me?' because you learn a little bit about their plan that way too. Right now that's kind of where we are so any of those things from the first ballgame help you. And certainly when you had success against them. It makes you feel like you can go into that environment again and have success again."
Even at 0-9 the Raiders still pose a threat to the Chargers who also seem lost of late. Both teams have won the same amount of games since they last met and that game was a back and forth affair. The Raiders were behind by three points and driving in the waning seconds before they went for it all and Carr was intercepted. The Chargers have to expect a similar shootout in this one.
"As the battle we had with them the last time we were there in Oakland, obviously we know exactly what this team is all about," said Chargers head coach Mike McCoy. "This is a good team. You've got to go in like you do every week in this league regardless of what the team's record [is], you've got to go out and play your best game. The parity in the league's very good and they've got a lot of talent on the football team. They're well coached and we've got to go out and do our best job and play our best game this week in order to win."
That goes especially for rookie quarterback Derek Carr who threw four touchdown passes against the Chargers in his first game under his new head coach. He said he is confident, but then again, he said he's always confident. But with that confidence comes the understanding that the opposition has now gotten the book on him.
"This will be the first time I think in my career like in life that I've gotten to play someone twice in one year," said Carr. "So, I've really been relying on the veterans in our room, Flip (quarterbacks coach John DeFillippo), and Oly (offensive coordinator Greg Olson), just asking them the certain questions rookies would have when you play someone twice."
"One thing for me is you know their personnel. You've played them, you've seen them. For me as a rookie, that's something that's unknown. You can see some on film but until you're really out there playing against somebody and you see them for the first time, you don't really know. So, you know the personnel, you got notes on the personnel, things you remember, it's really helpful."
The Raiders were the last team the Chargers beat.
As I mentioned, the Raiders at the time were 0-4, coming off a bye with their last game being a bad loss to the Dolphins.
Now, the tables are turned. Almost to the letter.
The Chargers are coming off their bye week having gone 0-3 in their last three games and are coming off a blowout loss to the Dolphins.
The Raiders were able to rally over the bye week after a big loss to the Dolphins, now the Chargers are fully capable of doing the same.
"You have to understand that they're coming back off of a bye and we're well aware of that so they'll fix some things," said Sparano, "they'll do some things during the course of this game that we'll have to adjust to. I'm sure there'll be something that comes up in this football game that we haven't seen, in other words that they've done some study off of their bye and have decided this is something that we should emphasize more or do out of this formation or whatever it is that way. So, I would imagine there would be some things that we haven't seen..."
Both of these teams are desperate for a win. Both of these teams had their last good game against each other -- at least on the offensive end. And since we know that San Diego doesn't offer the Chargers much in the way of homefield advantage when the Raiders come to town, there's no reason for the Raiders to worry about a 'hostile environment' either.
Neither of these two teams have a lot to be confident about lately. But against each other? They both feel like they have a legitimate shot.