Regular Season Opener
San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Where: Oakland Coliseum
When: 7:15 p.m. PDT
2008 Records: Chargers 8-8 (1st), Raiders 5-11 (3rd).
Line: Chargers by 9
At long last and finally it is here! Are you ready for some FOOTBALL!! Let's go Raiders and snap the losing streak against San Diego. Tom Cable will unveil the new Oakland Raiders tonight for all the nation to see. Let's have a look now at what we should expect to see tonight.
Raiders on offense:
It's all going to start with JaMarcus Russell as he is going to have to manage the game and protect the football well in order for the Raiders to prevail. The Raiders made the expected decision to start Darren McFadden for the season opener. His versatility running and catching the football and explosiveness adds more to the offense than what Fargas could. As certainly the plan will be to run the ball and with Fargas still questionable, both Bush and Rankin will provide plenty of freshness and change-of-pace.
Tom Cable has stated though that McFadden would carry the ‘bulk’ of the load tonight.
The big concern on offense will be that without Russell's new favorite target, Chaz Schillens and no veteran presence in Javon Walker, the Raiders will be relying on two rookie wide receivers, Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. Higgins will help out in the slot and thankfully last years favorite target of Russell, Zach Miller will playing.
If the Raiders are going to have any chance at pulling off an upset, they are going to have to execute virtually mistake-free football on the offense and not give San Diego any extra opportunities. They are going to have to run the ball effectively and Russell will have to make the throws when needed.
Raiders on defense:
DE/DT Richard Seymour will be playing, so that's an automatic and instant impact for the defense. Regardless,the Chargers will no doubt test the Raiders run defense early and often.
The John Marshall era officially begins. The Seymour impact should allow the Raiders linebackers to be more free and available to blitz as Marshall has promised. Marshall has stressed the fundamentals, so not blowing assignments and making the sure tackles are mandatory.
Cable said at the press conference with Seymour that he has seen some positives in recent games versus the Chargers, commenting, "When you look back at those games we were able to stay in, keep the defense off the field, keep them fresher if you will. And I thought we played with a little more intensity and violence on defense. I’ve gone back and looked at those so I can understand what he’s getting at."
Also, Silver and Black Pride member and new starting strong safety, Tyvon Branch draws the tough assignment of defensing Chargers TE Antonio Gates. Neutralizing Gates will go a long way towards the Raiders prevailing tonight.
Chargers on offense:
LaDainian Tomlinson is 30 years old, but he has personally tormented the Raiders throughout his career. Despite Tomlinson’s struggles in 2008, he torched the Raiders for 197 rushing yards in two meetings and the Chargers continued their recent dominance extending their streak of wins to 11-games against Oakland.
Unless all the new changes to the Raiders defense materialize, Tomlinson and Darren Sproles will present a lot of match-up problems for the Raiders especially with their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which the Chargers rely on frequently.
Chargers on defense:
Shawne Merriman was not even named one of the Chargers six captains, which shows how much he has fallen out of favor in San Diego. Nevertheless, Merriman is hoping for a return to his 2007 form prior to his major knee injury. If he does, then it may be a long night for Oakland.
Larry English will spell Merriman at times and inside linebacker Kevin Burnett will start opposite Stephen Cooper.
San Diego will try to force the Raiders into long down and distance situations early in the game to rattle and pressure JaMarcus Russell into mistakes. If the offense scores early and often and the defense are playing in front all day, the Raiders offensive line will get a heavy dose of blitzes.
- Center Chris Morris vs NT Jamal Williams
- Rookie wide receivers Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy vs Chargers secondary
- Antonio Gates vs Tyvon Branch
Game notes and not-so-fun facts:
- The Raiders have been outscored 104-35 in their last three regular season openers. In their last three Monday night games, the Raiders have been trounced by the Chargers 27-0, Seattle 16-0 and the Broncos 41-14.
- Unfortunately, exciting rookie and UDFA, Nick Miller has shin splints and will not make his Raiders debut as the kick returner. Louis Rankin is expected to take his place.
Enjoy the Nation! GO R-A-I-D-E-R-S!!!!!