As we all know, the San Diego Chargers have been the Raiders' biggest obstacle in the AFC West for the past several seasons. The Raiders have lost 11 consecutive games to the Chargers, dating back to the days of Charlie Garner and Charles Woodson.
Philip Rivers is coming into his own, LT appears to be back on track, and with Shawne Merriman returning from an injury, things don't appear to be too promising for Raider fans on opening day yet again.
However, this is the NFL, and anything can happen on any given Sunday. With that being said, here are five things the Raiders must accomplish in order to finally break that 11-game losing streak to the Chargers.
1. Control the clock
If the Raiders offense can run the ball and continue to move the chains and keep that San Diego defense on the field, the Raiders have a chance to stay in the game. The Raiders must start off by feeding the ball to Michael Bush and Darren McFadden, substituting Justin Fargas in sparingly. Bush and McFadden give the Raiders the best chance to win the game.
2. Win the turnover game
We need JaMarcus Russell to manage the game, take what the defense gives him, and move the chains. If our running backs and receivers can hold on to the ball and get down rather than fight for one or two more yards, which usually results in fumbles, we will be okay. If our defense can steal an interception or get a special teams turnover, we will be in good positions to stay in the game.
3. Take the points
The only time we should go for a 4th-and-1 is if it is on the last possession of the game and we are down. How many times have the Raiders gone for it on a similar situation early in the game, while we were in field goal range, only not to get it and end up losing the game by three points or less?
Simply, if you can put points on the board, get them. Not only are they points, but they are also confidence boosters for a young offense that is looking for an identity.
4. Bend but don't break
The Oakland defense isn't where it needs to be. It isn't now and probably won't be all season, but that doesn't mean that they still can't be successful. If the Raiders offense can win the time of possession battle and a fresh Raider defense can come on the field, good things can happen.
The defense needs to eliminate giving up the big backbreaking play. The defense needs to tackle rather than go for the ball. If the defense can eliminate the big play and hold the Chargers to field goals where in years past they would have been touchdowns, then again I see the Raiders having a chance to stay competitive in this game.
5. Keep it simple
The Raiders need to play within their means. On offense, that means getting the ball in your playmakers' hands with run plays and short dump-offs. Don't get cute. The offense should be running the plays that JaMarcus is most comfortable with.
On defense, tackle, know your assignments, and don't let the offense convert on third downs.
If the Raiders can manage to accomplish these tasks, they could be surprising a lot of people on Monday night.