SAN DIEGO -- Nick Hardwick, a 10-year veteran who has spent his entire career with the San Diego Chargers, said there’s very little explaining to do in the locker room about the team’s next opponent: it’s Raiders week.
“Everybody knows it’s Raiders week,” Hardwick said. “This is a special week here. It gets a little extra special attention, so guys are ready. We’re going to build off this win moving forward, and just go in with a good, aggressive attitude, and a good fighting spirit, and be ready to win again.”
The Chargers travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders for the team’s first AFC West division matchup. Oakland holds a 58-47-2 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1960. However, the Chargers have won the last three games, including the last two in Oakland.
At 2-2 this season, San Diego players know how important it is to get off to a good start within the division.
“It’s going to be huge,” running back Danny Woodhead said. “It’s a divisional game, which those go even further because you have two against each team. They’re very important, and we just got to be ready. We’ve got to take every single day that we have, starting today, to prepare and watch film -- just know what they’re going to do so we’re ready on Sunday.”
With the Oakland Athletics hosting the first round of the American League division series against the Detroit Tigers this weekend, the Chargers will have to deal with the dirt infield at the Oakland Coliseum. But good footing is the least of Hardwick’s concerns.
“It doesn’t matter,” Hardwick said. “You just go out and fight, and that’s all you can do. I mean, who cares if it’s dirt, or gravel or grass. I mean you’re just there to punch the guy in front of you. There’s nothing special about it. If we player harder than them, we play tougher than them, we’re going to win.”
Along with San Diego’s first AFC West division contest, placing more importance on this game is the fact that five of the Chargers' final eight games of season are against division opponents. San Diego wants to get a division game in the win column during the first half of the season.
“The No. 1 goal in a division is you’ve always got to win your division,” San Diego coach Mike McCoy said. “The only way you’re guaranteed to get into the playoffs is to win your division. So anytime you play against a division opponent, there’s that kind of professional hatred that you have for a team. You’re going to play those three teams twice a year, and you’ve got to knock them off.
“So it’s a big opportunity for us. We’ve got to build off of what we’ve done the past, couple weeks and continue to get better. It’s going to be a tough test for us in Oakland.”