The Oakland Raiders are ready for their turn in the spotlight. The first test of 2012 will take place Monday night before a national audience when the Raiders take on the San Diego Chargers at home. And if the Raiders want to win, there are three things that I think the team needs to do.
First, attack Philip Rivers. The quarterback is one of the top ten in the league, and he’s the best player on the Chargers. But he’s not as good when he’s being pressured. This will be especially important because Rivers’ safety valve, running back Ryan Mathews, is out with a broken clavicle. The Raiders need to force Rivers to make some mistakes, and they need to turn those mistakes into points.
Second, give the ball to Darren McFadden. He’s the star of this team and if he’s successful, the offense will be successful. McFadden is healthy and ready to prove he’s still an elite running back in the league. And let’s not forget how great he is in the passing game. If McFadden lines up as a receiver, the Chargers don’t have anyone capable of covering him. And the Raiders really need another receiver since Jacoby Ford is out with a foot injury and Denarius Moore is questionable with a hamstring injury.
And finally, as always with the Raiders, the team needs to limit the penalties. The Raiders broke two NFL records in 2011, most penalties and yards penalized in a season, and both records were set against the Chargers. But during preseason, the team seemed a bit more controlled. They averaged just six turnovers for about 43 yards per game. So let’s hope they can keep that up.
Monday’s game kicks off at 7:15 p.m. PDT from the O.co Coliseum on ESPN. For those fans in attendance, Ice Cube will perform pregame and Gene Simmons from KISS will sing the national anthem.