Loyal SoCal Raiders fans will make Chargers feel like visiting team

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at StubHub Center.Photo: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Chargers don't really play their second Los Angeles team in three weeks come Sunday at the Stubhub Center.

It will just feel like it.

The Oakland Raiders are up next for the Chargers (2-2) as they try to construct their first two-game winning streak of the season. This comes two weeks after the Chargers lost to the Los Angeles Rams.

With the Raiders (1-3) coming to town, as was the case when the Chargers played in San Diego, legions of their fans will appear. Of the three NFL teams once or currently calling L.A. home, only the Raiders won a Super Bowl in the City of Angels.

The Chargers looked up into a sea of silver and black last season when they met and this weekend will be no different. What's a switch is head coach Jon Gruden is on the opposite sideline and his side seeks its second consecutive win, too.

"It's going to be one of our biggest challenge of the year I believe," Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said.

Lynn said the Raiders, who beat the Cleveland Browns in overtime last week, are getting more comfortable under the Super Bowl winning coach. Lynn considers Gruden a friend and knows how badly he wants to get the Raiders back on track.

"He was away from the game but he was never out of the game," Lynn said of Gruden. "He is prepared and ready to come back and I'm sure he wants to win another championship."

That's on Philip Rivers' to-do list as well.

While the Chargers, who beat the San Francisco 49ers last week, 29-27, aren't without blemishes, Rivers (11 touchdown passes, two interceptions) is off to a solid start. He's doing so behind a balanced offense that has survived some injuries to edge blockers but continues to hum along.

"I feel like I've been playing pretty well but it's all about winning. We've done it half the time thus far and we weren't good enough in the other two," Rivers said. "I do feel as an offense we are playing pretty well -- better on third downs, better red zone -- but there are tons of areas to improve."

The Chargers, and especially their fans, would love for them to make strides against the Raiders. Chargers-Raiders week isn't what it once was, but it's still a game that gets circled on the calendar.

Said Lynn, "I think when I first got out here I learned quickly what that Chargers-Raiders game meant. With both teams being in California, up and down the coast, there's an interest. I think the longer you are in it, it's more because it's a division opponent. I'm not sure the Raiders are the hated rivals for the players like in high school or college. The difference is it's a divisional opponent and like the Chiefs and Broncos being in the division it makes it bigger."

Getting on a roll is no small task in the NFL. But Rivers said the time is right and if it comes against a team that will have its fans packing Stubhub Center on Sunday, so be it.

"This is no time to keep going win, lose, win, lose," Rivers said. "This is an opportunity to get our second win in a row, get over .500 and get it going hopefully."

SERIES HISTORY: 117th regular-season meeting. Raiders lead series, 66-52-2. The Chargers swept the Raiders last year, the first time that has happened since 2014. Philip Rivers was on board for part of the amazing streak when the Chargers beat the Raiders 13 straight times from 2003-2009. While the regular-season games are always intense, nothing would match the postgame heartache of the Raiders beating the Chargers in the 1981 AFC Conference Championship Game. The Chargers were also on the losing end of the "Holy Roller" play, where the Raiders prevailed in San Diego in 1978 after a series of dubious moves that advanced the football in the end zone for a score in the game's closing seconds.

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