Since the schedules were released, the Raider Nation has had this game circled for a variety of reasons.
For the Raider Nation, a win would be vindication for the draft picks, revenge on a former coach, and the springboard to a good season for the Raiders.
It would also mean ending a horrendous losing streak, winning the first game of the season and giving the team momentum into the next two games, also against AFC West opponents.
But just as the preseason has shown, there are questions, on both sides of the ball.
The first question, has been the glaring weakness in our defense at stopping the run. Missed tackles, poor defensive setup and badly calculated planning caused some games to look horrible. The 49ers game was prime example when three different running backs almost got 100 yards on us, each.
Some of the solution to this problem has been made, removing under-preforming players, extra training and the hope that John Marshall has gotten some overtime on working out these bugs. If Richard Seymour is ready and willing to play, he will be an asset. If he chooses to not be part of the club, then fine, we'll go with William Joseph.
The second problem, of course is injury. Michael Mitchell, our rookie Safety won't be able to play in position, but we will see him on special teams, to get him used to game time conditions. Chaz Schilens, slated to be back maybe by week three, unless a miracle happens will be out.
Instead, the Raiders might be forced to use two rookies on the WR sets. While this might be useful, as the Chargers haven't played against these rookies, it might also be a problem because of rookie mistakes, deflected passes and against the Chargers, you can't make a lot of mistakes.
Third problem, is the Raiders offense needs to keep moving the ball. Dumb penalties, badly thrown passes, fumbles and going three and out needs to be corrected. Russell should step up his game to prove he is maturing as needed.
Now, for the four points that the Raiders need full use from.
First off, use the running game to our advantage. Philip Rivers can't hurt us if he can't get off the bench. Tom Cable would love to use the passing and running games equally, but if one is going to work at a more steady and productive pace, use it.
Second, the Raiders need to get the crowd into the game. If the players can rattle Rivers, the crowd can cause him to get shaken out of his comfort zone. An interception, a fumble recovery or a key sack and the Raiders can hear it from the Black Hole.
Third, fill the box, and don't give an inch. It does sound like Kirk Morrison will be back and with him Ricky Brown will start alongside him. With the push, it will force Rivers to go into the air, where our corners will pick him apart.
Lastly, and most importantly, is for the Raiders to strengthen the offensive line. These guys will become important if JaMarcus Russell is to keep us in the game. Stopping an offensive blitz, buying time for our WRs to get deep enough will prove key in this game. Again, limiting dumb penalties, holding calls and the like will be critical.
How will this game play out?
Since Richard Seymour is still not in camp and would be pressed to play if at all by Thursday's practice, I would give a nod to the Raiders for two reasons.
For one, the Raiders would have Darren McFadden at full power, not just seven carries. Last year he rushed in the first game for 20 yards, with Michael Bush at 48 yards. McFadden, as remembered was suffering from turf toes, one foot then the other all season.
At full power it would be interesting to see if San Diego could stop him...or at least catch him when he breaks free.
Secondly, is production. Last year's San Diego game in Oakland had three field goals on four attempts. If Oakland could have converted these into touchdowns, Oakland would have won, no matter what LT did, 30-28.
Who's going to win?
I'll go with Oakland, 28 to 21...McFadden with 100 yards, JaMarcus Russell with 2 TDs, and Zach Miller catching at least 5 passes, one TD.
San Diego would get one TD from Philip Rivers, along with one INT. LT will get 40-50 yards, and one TD, before being replaced late by Darren Sproles, who scores the other.
The one interception of the game?
Rivers gets picked by Nnamdi Asomugha.