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September 02, 1995

WEST

Division prediction

The Oakland Raiders play host to the San Diego Chargers tomorrow in a game that could go a long way in determining whether a return to Oakland can lift the Raiders over the Chargers. Denver and Kansas City figure to battle for third, and Seattle again looks like the cellar dweller.

1. San Diego Chargers

1994 record: Division champions with an 11-5 record, lost Super Bowl.

Coach: Bobby Ross (33-20)

Key additions: t S Shaun Gayle, S Bo Orlando and CB Terrance Shaw.

Key losses: S Stanley Richard, RG Eric Bieniemy and S Darren Carrington (LB David Griggs died in an auto accident).

Strengths: The Chargers feature Stan Humphries at quarterback, Natrone Means at running back, Junior Seau anchoring a defense that didn't allow a runner to get 100 yards last year and a reliable kicker in John Carney.

Weaknesses: The Chargers had a nightmarish off-season. Griggs was killed, Natrone Means held out, they couldn't afford free agents, coach Bobby Ross was hospitalized in training camp and CB Darrien Gordon underwent rotator cuff surgery.

Extra point: The Chargers probably aren't a Super Bowl team, but still could win a wide-open division.

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