The San Diego Chargers kick off the 2012 regular-season in a nationally televised game on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders at the O.co. Coliseum in Oakland. The Chargers own a 30-22 lifetime record in season openers, and are 3-2 under head coach Norv Turner. The team is also 12-11 in season openers against the AFC West and 4-1 when the first game of the year airs on national television.
A Look Back At the Preseason
The Chargers finished the exhibition season with a 3-1 record, winning their first three games before falling in the finale at the San Francisco 49ers.
What to Watch For…
On Offense for the Chargers
Rivers, the franchise’s all-time leader for career completion percentage and passer rating, leads the way for the potent Bolts attack. In last year’s season finale against the Raiders, he had an outstanding game, completing 19 of 26 attempts for 310 yards, three touchdowns and a passer rating of 135.1, so look for him to replicate that performance in the opener. His favorite target, Antonio Gates, also had a memorable game in Oakland last year, catching five balls for 106 yards and a score.
On Offense for the Raiders
Carson Palmer helms the Raiders offense. He started nine games in 2011, completing 60.7% of his attempts for 2,753 yards, 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Raiders lost last season’s leading rusher, Michael Bush, to free agency, but the dangerous Darren McFadden returns after a 614-yard, four-touchdown season in which he was limited to seven games due to injury. The Raiders top two receivers are Darrius Heyward-Bey (64 catches, 975 yards and four touchdowns) and Denarius Moore (33-618-5).
On Defense for the Chargers
New defensive coordinator John Pagano takes over a unit that was headed by safety
On Defense for the Raiders
Oakland’s top three tacklers from last season return in safety Tyvon Branch (109 tackles), linebacker Rolando McClain (99) and safety Matt Girodano (70). Tommy Kelly led all Raiders with eight sacks last year while veteran Richard Seymour chipped in with six of his own.
Monday’s match marks the 106th all-time meeting between the Chargers and Raiders, with Oakland leading the series 58-45-2. The Chargers won the last meeting, 38-26, in the 2011 season finale and have won 14 of the last 17, including a stretch of 13-straight wins from 2003-09.
By the Numbers
In the preseason, the Chargers ranked 28th in total offense (262.5 yards per game), 15th in passing (103.8 ypg), 32nd in rushing (68.8 ypg) and 25th in points (16.0). The Raiders ranked 21st in total offense (287.8 ypg), 26th in passing (176.0 ypg), 16th in rushing (111.8 ypg) and 26th in points (15.2).
Defensively, the Bolts ranked 23rd in total defense (345.2 ypg), 27th in passing (243.0 ypg), 11th in rushing (102.2 ypg) and 18th in points allowed (19.5). Oakland ranked fourth in total defense (259.8 ypg), third in passing (158.0 ypg), 10th in rushing (101.8 ypg) and 17th in points allowed (18.8).
Milestones on the Horizon
The Chargers need eight regular-season victories to reach 400 all-time. The Chargers’ all-time regular-season record is 392-385-11.
The Chargers need to score a touchdown in their next game to join Cleveland (166 games from 1957-69) as the only teams in NFL history to score a touchdown in 150 consecutive games.
Norv Turner has the 34th-most wins in NFL history (111). His next victory will tie John Madden (112) for 33rd all-time.
A.J. Smith needs two Chargers wins to become the winningest general manager in franchise history.
Takeo Spikes’ first start in 2012 will be the 200th of his career.
Antonio Gates (75) needs six touchdown catches to match Lance Alworth’s (81) team record.
Gates is just seven catches away from becoming the fifth tight end and the 59th player overall in NFL history with 600 career catches.
Norv Turner spent the 2004-05 seasons as the Raiders’ head coach.
Photos: Familiar Faces
Assistant secondary coach Cris Dishman worked training camp with Oakland in 2007.
Defensive line coach Don Johnson held the same position with the Raiders from 2007-08.
Tight ends coach Jason Michael was the quality control coach in Oakland in 2005.
Raiders senior offensive assistant, Al Saunders, was the Chargers head coach from 1986-88 after serving as an assistant from 1983-86.
Linebacker Carl Ihenacho went to training camp with the Chargers in 2011.
Quarterback Carson Palmer makes his offseason home in Del Mar.
ESPN (simulcast in San Diego on KFMB-TV, Channel 8) – Chris Berman (play-by-play), Trent Dilfer (analyst) and Rachel Nichols (reporter)
Dial Global Sports (National) – Kevin Harlan (play-by-play, Dan Fouts (analyst) and Steve Tasker (reporter)
Rock 105.3 FM, XTRA Sports 1360 (San Diego) and AM 570 KLAC (Los Angeles & Orange County) – Josh Lewin (play-by-play), Hank Bauer (analyst)
Spanish Radio –XHFG 107.3 (San Diego) and KWKW 1330 AM (Los Angeles) – Jorge Villanueva (play-by-play) and Dante Lazcano (analyst)