Can Tom Cable pull a rabbit from his hat?

If Tom Cable wants to announce himself as the Harry Redknapp of the NFL, then he’ll pull a Houdini and show Raider fans something they haven’t seen since September 28th, 2003: A victory over the San Diego Chargers.

The Raiders had to overcome a two touchdown deficit in the second half to defeat the Chargers by way of a 46-yard Sebastian Janikowski field goal back in ’03. Since that 34-31 victory, the Chargers have taken the rivalry by the horns in Jim Tressel-like fashion.

The numbers are ugly and I suggest viewing them on an empty stomach. The Chargers have 11 straight victories over the Raiders. During that streak, LaDanian Tomlinson has out rushed the Oakland Raiders by himself with a sum of 1395 yards to 798. The Raiders have held LT below 100 yards 4 times out of the 11 meetings and have kept him out of the end zone just twice. Over the course of the streak, the Bolts have only started two quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Philip Rivers) while the Raiders have trotted out five different starters including Rich Gannon, Kerry Collins, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culepper and JaMarcus Russell. Rivers has never lost to the Raiders; his record is currently 6-0. Al Davis has employed six head coaches while the Chargers have had just two, one of which was Norv Turner who jumped ship leaving Oakland for San Diego in an attempt to become the new Mike Shanahan.

Michael Mitchell, you’d better have Tomlinson’s face on your dart board.

Personally, I haven’t been able to bear attending these games any longer. The last Raider/Charger affair I saw in person was back in 2005. LT had a game right out of fantasy football geek’s wet dream as he ran for a touchdown, caught one and even threw for one. The pain was unbearable and I knew that I was at my breaking point. Getting heckled by bandwagon fans is as dumbfounding as being called a douche bag by Tony Romo.

The chargers have beaten the Raiders in every way possible. They’ve blown us out. Made epic comebacks like those twenty five 4th quarter points they hung on the scoreboard  just this past season. They’ve even had help from the zebras. Remember that horrific “illegal forward pass” call in 2006 that resurrected the ghosts of the “tuck rule”?

Despite all the sorrow and angst, the Raiders could go another six years without a victory over the Chargers and the all-time series would only be at .500. One wonders why this has ever been called a rivalry. The Chargers have little to show for their recent domination over the Raiders. Each year the pundits pick the powder blue to represent the AFC in the big game and each year they find a new way to disappoint their front running fan base.

Coach Cable promised the Raiders would return to the playoffs on his watch. He also said that the Monday Night opener against the Chargers in 2009 is the “perfect way to start the season”.

There is no way to know if there will be a story book ending in Oakland this year, but the first chapter could be a perfectly written first act if Cable can pull a rabbit out of his hat. Raider fans won’t care if Cable’s magic is nothing more than slight of hand so long as it fools the non-rivals in San Diego.

Cable exorcised Chucky to conclude ’08. Beating San Diego would be a great way to top himself in ’09.