San Diego Chargers: Keeping the Oakland Raiders in the Rear View Mirror

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIIOctober 3, 2011

More Ryan Mathews. Less Mike Tolbert. Yea, that's the ticket!
More Ryan Mathews. Less Mike Tolbert. Yea, that's the ticket!Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

You may already know. I live in an Oakland Raider town, and everyone is seriously walking around with their nose in the air.

No, they're not snobs. They're just looking up at those lightning bolt-clad San Diego Chargers and ain't happy about it. People are going so far as to seek me out to explain to me why the Chargers suck and haven't beaten anybody, conveniently leaving out that they're only 2-2 after squeaking by those world beaters in orange, the Denver Broncos.

A few people (including me) actually believed the hype and thought that the new-look Raiders would blow the Patriots out of Northern California. Instead, they looked like the old Raiders, while the Chargers efficiently defeated another bad opponent to go up one game in the division.

Once again, the Raiders are the rear view mirror.

Say it with me now. Yaaaaay!

Now the Raiders have to travel to Houston, where they'll lose to the Texans as San Diego comfortably makes their way to the site of Ryan Mathews' greatest triumph.

The Bolts return to Denver, Colorado to play the Broncos, where my ex-girlfriend froze her butt off in the stands last season hoping Tim Tebow would pull off miracle the so that she could call and gloat.


Instead, Mathews easily rushed for more than 100 yards and danced in the end zone repeatedly with three touchdowns as the Chargers brought home the victory...


A San Diego Chargers win is never a guarantee this early in the season, but it appears that either way the Raiders will be tied for second place with the Kansas City Chiefs, who play a second straight preseason game that counts when they visit the Peyton Manning-less (in other words winless) Indianapolis Colts.

It'd be great for the Chargers to beat the Denver Broncos and go up two games over the Raiders. After their loss to the Texans, the Raiders will probably win three in a row over Cleveland, Kansas City and Denver before facing the Chargers for the first time.

In the meantime, the Chargers will be taking on the all bite and bark New York Jets, the Kansas City Chiefs and the defending champion Green Bay Packers.

By the time they face the Packers, the Chargers should be done with the “two-headed monster” experiment, in which Mike Tolbert is less Loch Ness monster and more Cookie Monster with the falling crumbs representing the ball falling from his grip in critical game situations. I give the Chargers a legitimate chance to go at least 3-1 before doing battle with Oakland.

All kidding aside, Oakland does have a very good chance to win it in Houston. The last time I saw the Texans' star receiver Andre Johnson, he was laying face down on some fake grass holding his leg and the network was observing a moment of silence for Houston's playoff chances as they went to commercial break.

I take that back. The Raiders have a slim chance, because the last three times I looked up at a Raiders game, a running back (each wearing a different uniform) was ripping off a long run of some sort and was in a foot race to the end zone with Raiders defenders in his wake. The only one who lost, and just barely, was the old man up in New York. I think they call him LT or something.

Houston's Arian Foster is going run for a buck-fifty or more, so the great Darren McFadden better be able to keep pace.

The Chargers have been steadily improving from game to game. They made fools of the Vikings in Week 1 after halftime, but then again, who hasn't?

They nearly came back against New England until Mike Tolbert did his Cookie Monster impression. Oh yes, the Patriots defenders messed with Tolbert's Dougie.

The Bolts held off the desperate Chiefs despite a slew of mistakes. Finally, they ran the offense through Ryan Mathews instead of Philip Rivers against the Miami Dolphins. Despite Tolbert's most butter-fingered efforts, San Diego played mistake free football and beat a bad Miami Dolphins team.

That will be the key to going undefeated before having a chance to bury the Raiders threat. Playing mistake-free and allowing Mathews to take some of the attention away from Rivers.

The Chargers offense had fun against Dolphins who didn't know whether to go after Rivers or Mathews half the time. Don't let the score fool you. The offense was phenomenal against the Dolphins, but one has to wonder what exactly is in the picture Tolbert is using to blackmail Norv Turner.

Until the butterfingered Tolbert bogged down the offense by replacing Mathews, the offense was really humming. Tolbert's botched third down catch in the fourth quarter provided the opposing groans when San Diego failed to put Miami away early as a result.

Okay, so I never miss a chance to go on a tangent to rip Mike Tolbert. It was a bad pass by Rivers, but it's so much fun to blame everything on Tolbert!