Oakland (4-7) at San Diego (7-4) Sunday 8:30 pm EST
SAN DIEGO (Ticker) -- LaDainian Tomlinson has made a believer
out of coach Marty Scottenheimer. The two-time Pro Bowl
running back also should have the Oakland Raiders' full
Led by Tomlinson, the San Diego Chargers seek their fifth
straight win Sunday when they meet the Raiders for a second
time this season in a battle of AFC West rivals.
Arguably the NFL's best running back, Tomlinson always has
had his way against the Raiders, rushing for 1,129 yards and
nine touchdowns in nine career games against them.
In the first meeting between the teams on October 16, Tomlinson
had a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown as the Chargers
coasted to a 27-14 victory. He rushed for 140 yards on 31
Tomlinson continued to stamp his reputation last week, rushing
for 184 yards and two touchdowns, including a 41-yard score 34
seconds into overtime as the Chargers rallied for a 23-17
victory at Washington. He sent the game into overtime with a
32-yard TD run with 3:29 left in regulation.
Tomlinson's effort against the Redskins drew high praise from
"I believe with a certainty, in my opinion, he is the finest
running back I have ever seen in professional football,"
Schottenheimer said. "I know people say, 'Well, what about Jim
Brown and what about Gale Sayers?' That's all well and good, but
I tell you what, in the era that we're in now where you have
defensive linemen that weigh 300 pounds and run 4.75 and these
mammoth guys that are playing linebacker, I think with a
certainty, in my opinion, he is the finest running back that I
have ever seen."
Tomlinson could be salivating for another chance at the Raiders
after Ricky Williams and rookie Ronnie Brown combined for 140
yards rushing and two touchdowns on 31 carries last week as
Oakland suffered a 33-21 loss to Miami.
Drew Brees also will be looking for another big performance
against the Raiders after he threw three interceptions in last
week's win. Brees completed 14-of-20 passes for 164 yards and
a touchdown in the first meeting against the Raiders. He
threw for 507 yards and six TDs without an interception in two
wins over Oakland last season.
San Diego is tied for second place with Kansas City, two games
The Raiders have lost three of their last four games and are in
last place in the division.
Matchup to watch: Chargers right guard Mike Goff, who made the
block on Tomlinson's game-winning touchdown last week, against
left defensive tackle Ted Washington.
Series: The Raiders lead, 55-35-2, but Schottenheimer is 24-7
Next week: Oakland visits NY Jets, December 11
San Diego hosts Miami, December 11
The Raiders are basically playing for pride at this stage of the season, while the Chargers are right in the thick of the playoff race after a great OT win last week at Washington. Running back LaDainian Tomlinson may be the most exciting player in the league, and the Raiders defense will have a huge challenge to stop him and Drew Brees.
The Chargers are playing solid defense, but the one thing we know the Raiders can do is move the football on offense. If both of these quarterbacks get good pass protection, we could see an impressive offensive shootout. This is a rivalry game that always provides excitement and drama.