There is nothing better than division rivalries! Each team seems to amp up their efforts during the week in anticipation for that Sunday or Monday Night battle. This energy is felt throughout the teams and also resonates to the fan bases. When it comes to rivalries, very few have the same historical impact than the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers. True, the AFC West as a whole has long standing bitter rivalries between all four teams. There is no love lost when you have been battling a foe since 1960.
As a die hard Raider fan, this is the game that I mark on my calendar each year. I understand that other Raiders fans will point to the Chiefs or the Broncos as their ultimate team to despise and I can respect that. But for me, nothing beats Raiders/Chargers twice a year. There is a long standing history that is interwoven between the two teams and they are both California teams so that presents an in state rivalry.
To start off, Raiders legend Al Davis got his first start in the pros under the tutelage of Sid Gillman, in 1960 as an offensive coach. During that time, Al would be credited for acquiring future Charger legend and Hall of Famer, Lance Allworth. When Allworth was inducted in the Hall of Fame, guess he chose to be his presenter? Al Davis. During his brief time with the Chargers, Davis would come to love the vertical passing game developed by Gillman and his early schemes that would later be called the West Coast offense. As we all know, Al would move on to better fortunes and would become owner and coach of the Oakland Raiders. Al Saunders, currently the Raiders Senior Offensive Assistant also has ties to San Diego. He served as WR coach, assistant head coach and head coach of the Chargers in the 80’s before bouncing around the league and finding a home with Oakland in 2011. This year, rookie WR Keenan Allen was skewered by Chargers after he posted a picture of himself sporting a Raiders hat after he was drafted as their third overall player. Hilarious if you ask me.
On the field, there have been many battles between these two franchises. From a historical perspective, there are three that come to mind. The Raiders would later call the game on Sept 10, 1978 as the Holy Roller, while Charger fans would come to call it the totally unimaginative nickname of the Immaculate Deception. I guess in homage to another Raider game just six years earlier. The second game that stands out in this great rivalry is the 1980 AFC championship game between these two teams. San Diego came in as the number one seed and the Raiders wound up with a wild card spot. After the Raiders built a 28-7 lead, the Chargers would come back to make it a game but would ultimately fall short 34-27. The Raiders went on to win their second Super Bowl and the Chargers would go home. In 2011, the Raiders had a chance to win the AFC West, get into the playoffs and snap an eight year streak without a winning record. All they had to do was win the season finale over their old foe. Sadly, that would not happen as the Raiders would fall 38-26, and the losing seasons would continue.
Over the years, each team has enjoyed complete dominance over the other. Recently, the Chargers would post an amazing 13 game win streak against the Raiders. From 2003 to 2010 the Chargers would own the Raiders. For me, this is part of the reason I have a deep disdain for the Chargers, I happened to be at the Coliseum in 2003 and again in 2010. You can read that story here. As impressive as that was, The Raiders still come out on top as they own a 14 game win streak against the Chargers.In the last three years, the teams have split their last six games and the games have been decided by a combined total of 23 points.
As to their overall head to head record, the Raiders own a comfortable plus ten winning advantage over the Chargers (57-47-2). Despite that 13 game win streak that Charger fans like to brag about, that doesn’t add up to much in the big scheme of things. Lets not also forget that the Raiders hold a plus three advantage on the stat that really counts, Super Bowls. Now I could say that the Chargers have never won anything significant in their existence but that would be lying. The Chargers managed one AFL championship in 1963 so kudos to them. Oh yeah, they also took four tries to get there. Congratulations! The Raiders also have one of those, they won it in 1967. To recap, it is four championship’s to one or three to zero if you are only counting Super Bowl era.
The state rivalry comes to mind as both teams at one point in their histories called Los Angeles home. The Chargers resided in LA from 1960-1961 while the Raiders would call LA home from 1982-1994. With talks always surfacing about a team in the LA area, both teams are always mentioned as possible suitors to return. Because of the Raiders time in LA, the Raiders created a loyal fan base in southern California. These loyal fans make the short trek every year to San Diego to what I call the Raiders ninth home game. While each team has their loyal fan base ,one more loyal than the other, there is no denying that the Raider Nation shows up in droves to Qualcomm Stadium every year. Having been to a couple of “away” games in San Diego, I can tell you that the stadium is at least fifty percent Raiders fans. I know Charger fans hate this, but over the years I know they have gotten used to it.
I am anticipating that the outcome will live up to the greatness of what a rivalry game should be. These teams don’t like each other, the fans don’t like each other and that is the way it should be. I wouldn’t want it any other way, it shouldn’t be any other way.