Week 1: Chargers-Raiders matchup

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

San Diego at Oakland
Monday, 10:15 p.m. ET, at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, Calif. - TV: ESPN
*TV announcers: Chris Berman, Trent Dilfer
*Keys to the game: Chargers QB Philip Rivers has plenty of weapons to choose from, but he better pick one quickly after the snap. LT Jared Gaither and LG Brandyn Dombrowski are out and C Nick Hardwick is trying to recover from a concussion. With RB Ryan Mathews (broken clavicle) also uncertain, the bulk of the running game will likely fall on Ronnie Brown. The good news is TE Antonio Gates looks healthy, WR Robert Meachem is the vertical threat Rivers covets and Raiders CBs Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer are a pair of 30-year-old veterans trying to prove they can still start in the league. New Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has big plans for RB Darren McFadden as a runner and receiver. McFadden is healthy and Oakland needs him to be productive with QB Carson Palmer's receiving corps nicked up and the Chargers upgrading their pass rush over the offseason.
*Matchup to watch - Chargers linebackers vs. McFadden: The Raiders are back to their zone-blocking scheme, and McFadden will be utilized as a big-play threat, short-yardage runner and will even put him in motion and split McFadden out wide. If the Chargers can contain McFadden, Oakland's passing game is a big question mark. San Diego wants to send a wave of pass rushers, but McFadden could prove a mismatch in coverage.
*Player spotlight - Chargers LT Mike Harris: The undrafted rookie out of UCLA is charged with protecting Philip Rivers' blind side with Gaither sidelined by a back injury.
*Fast facts: The Chargers have won seven of the past eight meetings in Oakland. ... Harris started all 42 games of his career at UCLA at right tackle.
Norv Turner's teams are notoriously slow out of the gate, and the Chargers are dealing with significant injuries to boot. With RB Darren McFadden healthy and ready to shoulder the offense, the Raiders wear San Diego down late.
*Our pick: Raiders 23-20

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