Los Angeles Chargers
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Chargers can' afford a letdown
The Los Angeles Chargers are either surging, streaking, ascending maybe all three as they face the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Winners of five straight, the Chargers are on the road for their fourth consecutive game. When they return home to play the Denver Broncos the following week, it will be more than a month that will have gone by since they toiled at StubHub Center.
But while they've been away, the Chargers have shifted their season into another gear. What was a 3-2 squad before packing its suitcase stands at 6-2, a game behind the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs.
"I wouldn't define what we have done yet as success," quarterback Philip Rivers said. "We've had some weekly success each Sunday that we won but I don't know that anyone in the locker room feels like, 'Hey, we're a successful group.' We know we got a long way to go. It's a long season and it truly is one week at a time."
The Chargers go for a season sweep of the Raiders and nothing could be finer as they've strung together five straight wins for the first time since 2014.
The Raiders are in the midst of a roster purge, looking toward the future while giving the present little consideration. The Chargers could care less how that all turns out for their hated rival, and if they can stack another win in their column, that's dandy.
But head coach Anthony Lynn isn't buying the notion the Raiders have packed it in, especially with the game being in the Bay Area.
"We know Oakland is a tough place to play and it's going to be a four-quarter football game," Lynn said.
And the Chargers, as good as they are feeling about themselves, know they have eight games left.
"We feel like things are moving in the right direction but we got a lot of games left," Lynn said. "I like what we are doing right now but we have to find ways to get better, each and every week.
"This group understands we set the reset button and we go out and start fresh every week. They have done a good job with that."
But the Raiders are dreadful, checking in at 1-7.
"It's the National Football League and they know they can get beat on any given Sunday," Lynn said. "It happens every single week. We just have to make sure it doesn't happen to us."
And Lynn said the Raiders, with their familiarity of the Chargers, makes them especially dangerous.
"It's a rivalry game and it will be pretty intense," he promised. "They are doing some good things."
Not as good as the Chargers, of course, as the Raiders have dropped four in a row. Make that the streaking Chargers and they don't plan on leaving that run behind when they exit Oakland.
SERIES HISTORY 118th regular-season meeting. The Raiders lead the series, 62-53-2. The Chargers have won three straight against the Raiders and go for a season sweep after beating them 26-10 in Week 5. In their last visit to Oakland, the Chargers rallied for a 17-16 victory. The Chargers, during the LaDainian Tomlinson glory years, once beat the Raiders 13 straight times. The original AFL rivals have played in the playoffs just once and it was a painful loss for the Chargers as the Raiders prevailed, 34-27, in the 1980 AFC Championship Game.