Monday Night Football- Chargers vs Raiders Preview
The San Diego Chargers kick off their 2012 season with a AFC West clash against division rivals Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football.
Last year was a disappointment for both the Chargers and Raiders as they both finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.
However, both teams will be looking to bounce back this time around and get off to a winning start on Monday night.
With Raiders’ fans at the Coliseum likely to be even louder on opening night, this one should go down to the wire.
Now without further ado, here is the preview.
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Unlike the Raiders, the Chargers are coming off a solid preseason and will hope to continue that momentum going into this one.
Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense will be depending on new receivers Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal in the passing game and running back Ronnie Brown in the running game without the absent duo of Ryan Mathews and Vincent Brown.
The Chargers defense will likely be more aggressive under new defensive coordinator John Pagano and rookies like Melvin Ingram, Kendall Reyes and Brandon Taylor will be asked to step up and make an early impact for the team.
As for the Raiders, Carson Palmer simply must have a more consistent season if they are going to be successful this year and he’ll have to deal with a revamped Chargers defense that will be looking to blitz him every chance they can get.
On defense, their defensive front seven is among the best in the league with standout players Richard Seymour and Rolando McClain but it’s their secondary that lets them down as they are yet to replace Nnamdi Asomugha with any real talent at cornerback.
Darren McFadden- Running Back- Raiders
Raiders running back Darren McFadden is back to full health and will see plenty of carries in the game.
Richard Seymour- Defensive End- Raiders
Seymour will look to cause havoc in the Chargers rushing attack and will also be valuable vs the pass.
Philip Rivers- Quarterback- Chargers
As the Chargers leader on offense, Philip Rivers must play better this season and that starts on Monday night.
Eric Weddle- Safety- Chargers
Weddle will help out in coverage and will also spend more time playing in the box to stop McFadden.
Shane Lechler/Mike Scifres- Punters- Raiders/Chargers
These two are the top punters in the league right now and will certainly make an impact in the game.
Key battles to watch
Raiders wide receivers vs Chargers Secondary
- The first key battle to watch will be how the Chargers secondary matches up against the Raiders group of young wide receivers. The Raiders boast a speedy group of receivers (Darius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner and Rod Streater) who are all capable of making an impact. Chargers starting cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antonie Cason are in for a tough night and they will have to be on their game if they are going to stop these receivers.
Raiders running game vs Chargers defense
- If everyone can stay healthy, the Raiders will have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL this year and they are led by former Arkansas Razorback Darren McFadden. McFadden only played in seven games last season due to numerous injuries but he’s now back to 100% and will be a key factor in the Raiders offense. The Chargers defense will not only have to stop McFadden in the run game, but they will also have to watch out for backups Taiwan Jones and Mike Goodson.
Chargers offensive line vs Raiders defensive line
- The Chargers offensive line will be without starting left tackle Jared Gaither in this game due to injury. Unfortunately or rather inevitably, Gaither suffered an injury setback which means undrafted rookie Mike Harris will start the game at left tackle. On the opposite side of the ball, the Raiders have arguably the best front four in football with Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Matt Shaughnessy and Lamarr Houston. The Raiders d-line will be solid vs the run and will also cause problems for Rivers in the passing game.
Chargers pass rush vs Carson Palmer
- Let’s face it, Carson Palmer isn’t anywhere near the quarterback that he once was and is now one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the league. In fact, I ranked him as the seventh worst on my list of starting quarterbacks last week and I don’t expect him to have a good game going up against the Chargers pass rush. Just as the Raiders defense will lean heavily on their defensive line, the Chargers will be doing the same with their pass rushers and so expect them to be getting plenty of pressure on Palmer.
Special Teams battle
- I highlighted punters as impact players earlier and that’s because of the special teams battle that will likely unfold. The Raiders have the best punter in the NFL in Shane Lechler and the Chargers have the second best in Mike Scifres. The Raiders also have kicker Sebastian Janikowski who was voted onto the AFC team that went to the Pro Bowl last year. The Chargers have Nate Kaeding at kicker who is a two time pro bowler who missed last season due to injury. Safe to say, special teams will be a key factor in this game.
In what should be a close game, I see the Chargers just edging it. Raiders 27 Chargers 28
So that’s your preview and prediction.
Lets go bolts!!!