The Chargers should win this one going away tonight. They have a superior organization, coaches and players. The Raiders are a complete mess with ancient owner Al Davis calling the shots. Their head coach, Tom Cable, is not a real NFL coach, and he's only there because he will play JaMarcus Russell and quarterback no matter what happens. Davis had some strange vision that Russel will be a great quarterback leading the Raiders to many Super Bowls and he's going to stick with it despite what reality presents.
Some have said that Russell did better at the end of last season, but in the preseason, he still couldn't make the reads quickly enough. If his first option was covered he was done. Some folks, no matter what they do in college(look across the Bay to Alex Smith), just don't have what it takes to be an NFL quarterback.
This presents the Chargers with some interesting possibilities tonight. Sacks and interceptions should be there for the taking. If the Charger offense has a good night and the Raiders are forced to pass a lot to try to catch up, Russell will be exposed. Shawne Merriman should have a chance to test his burst and see if he can still do it in the NFL. Also, look for some new wrinkles from the Ron Rivera defense. I'm interested to see if the front seven can create more confusion and havoc than last year.
On offense, the Chargers will get to see if an inexperienced right side of the line will hold up. Starting rookie Louis Vasquez at right guard and Jeromey Clary at right tackle is one of the biggest gambles San Diego is taking this season. They will get to face the intimidating and talented Richard Seymour, who just flew in from the Patriots on Saturday. If the line can gel, open holes in the run game, and pass block well, the Chargers will have an incredible season.
I'm also predicting LaDanian Tomlinson will return to form this year. He seems to have absorbed the Marty-Hate for the Raiders (a Raider intentionally cracked his rib in a pile four years ago), so he should be looking for a big game. This game should be a good indication of LT's physical abilities the rest of the season.
Final score? Chargers 38, Raiders 10