Raider Week, a week that brings Chargers fans two things- comfort knowing that their team should easily increase their winning streak to 12 straight wins against the Silver and Black, and an intense passion to want to see the Raiders lose by double- no, triple-digits, because you never can beat the Raiders by enough.
There is no margin of victory too extreme to make me say, “OK, time to go easy on them.” Raider fans, don’t take this personally, I have nothing against you. Well, I might have something against L.A. Raider fans. But Oakland Raider fans, I have nothing against you. It’s not your fault that no one has the guts to take this team out of Al Davis’ cold, dead hands. But until someone else takes over, I’m afraid it might be awhile until the Raiders stop drafting offensive linemen to play quarterback and kicker, and hands-less sprinters to play wide receiver.
All Raider-hating aside, I have one concern about this Monday’s game in Oakland. Chargers fans, you may have noticed the disease that has infested the team the last couple of years, something the medical profession calls “slow-starteritis”. There are plenty of reasons why this team has consistently started slowly out of the gate the last couple of years, but I won’t be convinced that they have cured this disease until the symptoms are gone, meaning they avoid a .500 winning percentage (or less). And unfortunately, the beginning of the 2009 season isn’t going to make that easy on anyone. After the game against Oakland, the Chargers face three-straight playoff teams in the Ravens, Dolphins (both at home), an d the Steelers (in Pittsburgh). Some prognosticators believe the Chargers will be lucky to go 2-2 to start the season.
I have a different take. Barring some traumatic event (like the Chargers bus being t-boned by a drunk Tila Tequila on the way to the Oakland Colisseum), the Chargers will defeat the Raiders on Monday night. It might be closer than we like, but even lingering ailments resulting from a severe case of “slow-starteritis” won’t be enough to hand the Chargers a 0-1 record to start the season. But that’s hardly a bold prediction. No, the bold prediction is this: The Chargers will follow their win over the Oakland Raiders with victories against the Ravens and the Dolphins.
What, that’s not bold enough for you? How about this: the Chargers will go undefeated at home this season. Granted, the home-schedule isn’t all that exciting, but there are four 2008 playoff teams visiting the “Q” this year, and I am of the opinion that the Chargers will beat them all.
And the first step to fully recovering from “slow-starteritis” begins with the Raiders on Monday night. For the first time in a long time, the Raiders won’t be the problem, they will be the cure.
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