It’s been a little over nine months since Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers ran amok all over the Oakland Coliseum field, spoiling New Years Day for both the Raider players and fans, alike. The Raiders, needing a victory to clinch their first playoff birth since the 2002-2003 season, failed miserably in virtually every aspect of the game, most notably on the defensive end in losing 38-26. The kicker was after cutting the lead to 31-26 after a Kevin Boss touchdown reception, the Chargers found themselves pinned to their own 1/2 yard line. With the black hole in full-on ‘crazy’ mode and the players extremely pumped, it took the Rivers and the Chargers offense only four plays to travel the entire field and put the Chargers up 38-26. After a Carson Palmer interception, the Raiders fate was sealed. The playoffs would carry on with them for the ninth consecutive year.
A lot of the cast and characters have changed from that last meeting, but the main stars are still here. Darren McFadden didn’t play in either contest against the Chargers last year. Palmer is back to lead the new-look offense. Palmer had his coming-out party on against the Chargers in their November contest in San Diego. Unfortunately for him and the Raiders, his play was very inconsistent after that game.
Defensively, it’s almost a completely new team for the Raiders. Gone from last year’s squad are: Kamerion Wimbley, Stanford Routt, Chris Johnson, and Lito Sheppard, just to name a few. Starting linebacker Aaron Curry is on the physically unable to perform list due to a nagging knee injury. New starters expected on Monday’s opener will be: rookie linebacker Miles Burris, outside linebacker Phillip Wheeler and conerbacks, Shawtae Spencer and Ronald Bartell. It will be a whole new ballgame in regards to the Raiders defensively. This will be the first year that late owner Al Davis doesn’t have his hands over the defense. Under Davis, the Raiders typically employed a base man-to-man scheme that over time, proved to be easily exploited by the defense (mainly against the Chargers last season). The Raiders now employ a defensive-minded head coach for the first time in their history and with it a modern scheme that will include different zone coverages and blitz’s. That alone should improve the defense, which was one of the worsts in the league last season.
If the Raiders control the run game and Palmer limits his turnovers, the Raiders should be able to prevail against an injury-riddled Chargers team. Defensively, the Raiders must pressure Rivers, as they did in their first meeting last year. If he get’s comfortable in the pocket, look out, he will make the Raiders pay. It’s imperative the Raiders get off to a good start and feed off the home crowd’s energy. It should be a fun one. Raiders v Chargers on Monday night. What could be better? Oh, that’s right…a Raiders victory.
About the Author
Written by Simran Reyatt
Growing up in the suburbs of Los Angeles I became passionate about sports around 1988, watching the showtime Lakers and the miracle Dodgers. I have been hooked ever since! Lakers, Raider and Dodgers are my main passions, but really, I'm a huge sports lover as a whole.