Though the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders could end up sharing a stadium down the road, the immediate focus for each team is to avoid a third straight defeat this weekend.
The Chargers can do so by recording a fourth consecutive victory over the visiting Raiders on Sunday.
Next week, town hall meetings will be held in San Diego, Oakland and St. Louis as part the NFL’s procedure for evaluating relocation. Chargers chairman Dean Spanos and Raiders owner Mark Davis together proposed to build a $1.7 billion stadium in the Los Angeles suburb of Carson if new venues can’t be built in their own markets. Rams ownership also has expressed interest in relocating to the Los Angeles area.
"While Mayor (Eric) Garcetti frequently meets with companies looking to do business in Los Angeles, we are mindful that the Chargers, Raiders and Rams are still actively discussing stadium deals in their current cities and the NFL has not yet approved a team moving," Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman told NFL.com in July.
If the Chargers and Raiders were to share a stadium, one team would likely leave the AFC West. Neither fan base is particularly fond of the other but they’ll have at least this season to continue the rivalry in its current form.
San Diego (2-4) has won six of the last seven meetings, including three straight at home. The Chargers’ only two wins within the division last season came against Oakland (2-3).
One week after allowing a go-ahead touchdown to Pittsburgh on the final play of a 24-20 loss, the Chargers had first-and-goal at the Green Bay 3-yard line with less than 40 seconds to play and couldn’t reach the end zone in Sunday’s 27-20 defeat.
"You’ve got to laugh to keep from crying,”’ quarterback Philip Rivers said. ”Another one, another one that’s tough.”
The loss overshadowed a historic day for Rivers, who set franchise records with 43 completions, 65 attempts and 503 passing yards. He also tossed two touchdowns.
Rivers, whose completion total was the highest in league history for a loss, leads the NFL in yards (2,116), completions (177) and attempts (253) but has also been sacked 17 times. He’s completed 69.7 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions while posting a 104.5 passer rating in the last seven against Oakland.
”We’ve all got to play a little better for him, to help him, make things easier on him," said safety Eric Weddle, who is dealing with a groin injury. "He, like everyone else, has to get better, myself, everyone, we all need to get a little bit better."
Especially rookie Melvin Gordon, who was benched after fumbling twice against the Packers. The 15th overall pick is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, does not have a touchdown and has lost three of his four fumbles.
”We’ve got to eliminate it,” said Chargers coach Mike McCoy, whose team has a minus-4 turnover differential. ”He can’t put the ball on the ground.”
The Chargers, 26th in the league at 26.8 points allowed per game, have forced three turnovers in the last four contests.
After turning the ball over four times while winning two of the first three, Oakland has committed five turnovers in dropping consecutive games to Chicago and Denver. Coming off their bye, the Raiders have had time to regroup as they look to turn things around.
"We believe in each other and that’s the main thing going forward," running back Latavius Murray said.
The Raiders need more production from Murray, who has rushed 28 times for 88 yards in two games since running for 139 and a TD in a 27-20 win at Cleveland on Sept. 27. He gained a season-low 39 and carried twice in the second half of the 16-10 loss to the Broncos on Oct. 11.
Though Oakland is rushing for 12.5 more yards per game than it did when it averaged a league-low 77.5 last season, it’s been held to 70 or fewer three times and has averaged 3.0 per attempt in the last two contests. Perhaps things will improve against a Chargers defense that’s yielding a league-worst 5.4 yards per carry.
”We know what has to get done,” Murray said. ”I’ll put it on me. It starts with me being the best runner I could be and trusting those guys up front.”
The Raiders haven’t allowed more than 22 points in three games since yielding 33 in each of the first two, but they’ll be without Justin Tuck, as the veteran defensive end is lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle. Tuck, who led the club with five sacks in 2014, has one with seven tackles this season.
”We’ll miss him on the field," defensive back Charles Woodson said. "He’s an important part of our defense so not to have that guy and have to essentially find somebody to replace him, that’s always tough in whatever position it is to replace one of your main guys.”
Chargers receiver Keenan Allen, who leads the league with 53 receptions, returned to practice Friday after hurting his hip in the loss to the Packers and should play.