Originally published September 14, 2009 at 9:05 a.m., updated September 14, 2009 at 10:59 a.m.
The journey to bring a Super Bowl to San Diego starts tonight and some think this is the year the Chargers win it all. We're joined on Morning Edition by North County Times Sports Columnist Jay Paris who joins us from the Bay Area.
Dwane Brown: The journey to bring a Superbowl champion to San Diego starts tonight and some think this is the year the Chargers win it all. We're joined on "Morning Edition" by North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris, who's in the wet Bay Area this morning. Well, Jay, the Chargers haven't lost to the Raiders in years, should anything be different tonight in the Black Hole?
Jay Paris: Absolutely not. The Chargers are heavily favored, the team is loaded to bear, and shooting for the Super Bowl. So, put it all that together and it probably means the Raiders upset them, because its sports, you never know what's going to happen. This is one of the most anticipated Chargers' seasons in a long time, certainly one of the most historic being the 50 anniversary season, and they think they're ready. They're talking the talk and now they get to back it up starting tonight. In Oakland it's starting to clear off, it started to rain last night, but it shouldn't hamper the boys tonight.
Alan Ray: As you say on paper the Chargers have the Raiders completely over matched. But there are a few X-factors are there?
Paris: Yeah, you never know, it being football right off the bat, the Bay Area is kind of fired up here with the 49ers upsetting the Cardinals yesterday, so anything can happen. The Raiders picked up Richard Seymour from the New England Patriots, a Pro Bowl defensive lineman who the Chargers know all too well from bucking heads with him in the playoffs. They're encouraged with JaMarcus Russell, their quarterback. You know, it's tough to beat anyone with one, two, three, four, five times in a row, let alone 12. The Chargers are going for the twelfth straight win in the series, which is crazy on the surface. So, I expect a good ball game tonight. I expect the Chargers to win, but maybe not as easily some people might anticipate.
Brown: Now, this seems like déjà vu all over again, sports writers, even some NFL experts are picking the Chargers to win the whole thing this year. Where do you stand, Jay?
Paris: I think they get to the AFC Championship game, I still think they are still a notch below the Patriots as Tom Brady comes back and Randy Moss. The Pittsburgh Steelers looked awfully good last Thursday night and the Tennessee Titans were there too. So, the Chargers are certainly in the mix. They've never won that Superbowl and only have won one league title in those 49 seasons. I think they fall a little bit short of the Superbowl but I certainly think they have as good as chance as anybody.
Ray: The San Diego County district attorney has refused to file charges against Shawne Merriman, for that altercation at his home in Poway last weekend. Did that provide much as a distraction for the team?
Paris: You know, they'll say "no." You'd like to say there's two things the coaches absolutely hate and that's distractions and not feeling like they have complete control over the message or their players. For a couple of days there , TMZ and Hollywood Access and people like that around instead of Sports Illustrated and Sporting News and the sports periodicals. So, for a couple of days that was the talk instead of getting ready for the Raiders. Now, that being said, Coach Norv Turner said he's never seen Shawne Merriman more focused and more ready to go. He's had a long road back from that knee surgery. He's certainly primed and pumped up. So, I think it was maybe a small blip. The guys have focus on the Raiders, or they better have anyway.
Brown: Well, on the college football front the San Diego State Aztecs beat Southern Utah at Qualcomm Stadium over the weekend. Are things looking up for the team, now 1-1?
Paris: 1-1. Any win is a good win for the Aztecs, who have certainly struggled in the past. The win came against a Division II opponent, in layman's terms it's, Southern Utah certainly wasn't a powerhouse win or anything and the Aztecs were sloppy early on. But, they won and you got to believe, as what Brady Hoke says over there. It's tough to believe when you are not winning and seeing some of the results. So, this does good stuff for them. It gives them a little momentum. Let them build that thing and be patient. Let's see, maybe they can turn it around.
Ray: Go Chargers. That's North County Times sports columnist Jay Paris. Stay tuned to KPBS, Jay will be on "These Days" later this morning to talk about tonight's big game.