The second half of the Monday Night Football doubleheader and we will see the San Diego Chargers travel to take on the Oakland Raiders. The game is scheduled for a 10:15 PM (Eastern) start time and it will be televised live on ESPN. Currently the odds for the game have Oakland favored by 1 point, while the total sits at 46.5. Currently 56% of the Public is on San Diego, while 51% is on the Over. Find out what side the Public is taking on all the games by clicking HERE.
Free Analysis: What's almost unanimously billed as a make-or-break year for Norv Turner begins Monday night. Turner was believed to be a goner as the 2011 campaign entered its final stages, with San Diego bringing a lackluster 4-7 record into the month of December. However, another customary strong finish by the Chargers granted the veteran coach a stay of execution after the team just missed out on a playoff berth. San Diego closed out with four wins in its last five contests, capped by a 38-26 besting of the Raiders at the Coliseum in which the Bolts erupted for 463 total yards.Philip Rivers is the main factor for San Diego. Last season, the veteran joined Drew Brees and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in league history to throw for 4,000 yards in four or more straight campaigns. However, he also threw a career-high 20 interceptions. Rivers has performed well against division rivals since becoming the club's starting QB in 2006, posting a 26-10 record. The Chargers hope to have running back Ryan Mathews in the lineup Monday. Mathews, who suffered a broken clavicle in the preseason, returned to practice Monday but has yet to be cleared for contact. San Diego prevailed in its last meeting with the Raiders despite surrendering a whopping 520 total yards and failing to mount much pressure on Palmer. The Chargers signed outside linebacker Jarret Johnson (56 tackles, 2.5 sacks), one of the integral parts of a Baltimore defense that annually ranks among the league's best against the run, then they further bolstered that position by using their first-round draft selection on South Carolina's Melvin Ingram, a highly skilled pass rusher who'll start out paired with team sack leader Antwan Barnes (41 tackles, 11 sacks) on nickel downs. Getting more heat on the quarterback will be vital to the Bolts' chances for both this game and throughout the season, as the cornerback trio of the aging Quentin Jammer (53 tackles), Antoine Cason (53 tackles, 2 INT, 17 PD) and Marcus Gilchrist (34 tackles, 2 INT) wasn't very good in 2011.
The Oakland Raiders begin their latest quest for an elusive playoff berth under new coach Dennis Allen tonight. Oakland has shown improvement of late, going 8-8 each of the last two seasons following seven straight campaigns with fewer than six victories. It has won nine of its last 12 games against AFC West rivals but has had little success against San Diego recently, losing 14 of the last 17 overall meetings and seven of eight at home. Allen takes over a roster that was partially gutted by McKenzie out of necessity with the Raiders entering the offseason well over the salary cap due to the frivolous spending of the late owner Al Davis. Full seasons from two key offensive players could help Oakland get back to the postseason. Quarterback Carson Palmer appeared in only 10 games last year after being acquired from Cincinnati, throwing for 2,753 yards and 13 touchdowns. Meanwhile, running back Darren McFadden was limited to seven contests in 2011 due to a foot injury. He has yet to play a full season since being drafted fourth overall in 2008. McFadden has been healthy this preseason and displayed the form that enabled the 2008 first-round pick to pile up 1,157 rushing yards and 507 more receiving while scoring 10 touchdowns in just 13 outings in 2010. As long as he can maintain good health, Allen plans on riding the big-play back as much as need be. The key for the Raiders defensively will be to bring consistent pressure upon Rivers. Oakland amassed six sacks in its victory at San Diego last November, though the departed Wimbley accounted for four of those takedowns, but didn't have a single one in the season-ending loss in which Rivers threw for 310 yards and three scores. That was the unit's source of strength in 2011, with the tackle tandem of Richard Seymour (29 tackles, 6 sacks) and Tommy Kelly (41 tackles, 7.5 sacks) combining for 13 1/2 sacks to lead the way along with Wimbley. Overall Defense was Oakland's sore spot last season as it became the sixth team since 1970 to surrender 2,000 rushing yards and 4,000 passing yards in one campaign.
Free Pick: I like the Bolts in this one. This is a make or break year for Norv Turner and I expect his troops to respond and come out firing. While the Raiders have an advantage on the OL and at RB the Chargers have a very good DL that has been upgraded in the off season with the additions of Jarret Johnson and Melvin Ingram. San Diego should be able to slow down the Raiders rushing attack and get pressure on Palmer as well. With both teams possibly struggling to run the game that could turn this into a passing game and that give San Diego a big edge. Both teams have weak secondaries but San Diego has the much better passing game to take advantage. Despite losing Vincent Jackson I still see the Chargers as a much improved team on both sides of the ball, plus they have really owned this series, winning 14 of the last 17 played. Look for that trend to continue tonight.
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