Chargers vs. Raiders: Keys to Victory for Both Teams in Monday Night Showdown
In what has become an annual tradition, Monday Night Football kicks off with two games in Week 1. The second of those two matchups this year provides a lot of intrigue, just because it features two teams who have expectations that they never seem to live up to.
We are talking, of course, about the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. These two AFC West rivals actually enter the 2012 season with tempered expectations. Perhaps that is a good thing, as they never seem to live up to anything.
So as another season begins, this time with minimal expectations, here are what the Chargers and Raiders must do to be successful on Monday night.
San Diego Chargers
Control the trenches
Which Team Will Win More Games In 2012?
One area where the Chargers struggled last season was up front on the offensive line. They never gave Philip Rivers time to make reads, which is why he had to force throws and turned the ball over more than he ever has in his career with 20 interceptions.
If the Chargers ever hope to reach the potential that we all put on them over the last few years, they have to shore up their offensive line. A matchup with the Raiders, who have an average defensive line, could be the perfect warmup act for them.
Moving to the other side of the ball, the defense struggled to stop the run all last season. They allowed over 122 yards per game, which ranked 20th in the NFL.
The easiest way to frustrate their defense is to keep things moving on the ground. The Raiders should boast one of the best running games in the NFL, led by the returning Darren McFadden, so the Chargers will have their hands full.
Keep the ball and play disciplined
When the Raiders acquired Carson Palmer last year, expectations were reserved because he hadn't played since the 2010 season and he threw 20 picks with the Bengals.
Unfortunately, Palmer never adjusted to the west coast. Despite playing in six fewer games last season than he did in 2010, he still threw 16 interceptions and could never get out of his own way.
His accuracy and decision making have to be better for the Raiders to succeed in 2012.
Palmer's progress with this offense must be mirrored by the rest of the team, which is so often at or near the top of the league in penalties. Some might describe it as a natural bias the officials have against the Silver and Black, but they are rarely focused enough to stay in the game for 60 minutes.
That has to change soon. Penalties are devastating to any team, but when you have so many of them that prolong an opponent's drive or ruin your own drive, people are going to try and force things to happen.
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