San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders (-1, 46.5)
The Oakland Raiders begin their latest quest for an elusive playoff berth under new coach Dennis Allen on Monday night when they host the San Diego Chargers in the season opener for both teams. Oakland has not reached the postseason since 2002, when it lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Raiders went 11-5 that year, their last season with a winning record.
Oakland has shown improvement of late, going 8-8 each of the last two seasons following seven straight campaigns with fewer than six victories. It has won nine of its last 12 games against AFC West rivals but has had little success against San Diego recently, losing 14 of the last 17 overall meetings and seven of eight at home. The Chargers, whose 38-26 road triumph in the 2011 season finale cost the Raiders the division title, have missed the playoffs each of the last two years after claiming the AFC West four consecutive times.
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE: Raiders -1. O/U: 46.5.
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for clear skies and temperatures in the low-60s Monday night in Oakland. Winds will be light out of the south.
ABOUT THE CHARGERS: Philip Rivers is the main factor for San Diego. Last season, the veteran joined Drew Brees and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks in league history to throw for 4,000 yards in four or more straight campaigns. However, he also threw a career-high 20 interceptions. Rivers has performed well against division rivals since becoming the club's starting QB in 2006, posting a 26-10 record. The Chargers hope to have running back Ryan Mathews in the lineup Monday. Mathews, who suffered a broken clavicle in the preseason, returned to practice Monday but has yet to be cleared for contact.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS: Full seasons from two key offensive players could help Oakland get back to the postseason. Quarterback Carson Palmer appeared in only 10 games last year after being acquired from Cincinnati, throwing for 2,753 yards and 13 touchdowns. Meanwhile, running back Darren McFadden was limited to seven contests in 2011 due to a foot injury. He has yet to play a full season since being drafted fourth overall in 2008. Defense was Oakland's sore spot last season as it became the sixth team since 1970 to surrender 2,000 rushing yards and 4,000 passing yards in one campaign.
*Chargers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings in Oakland.
*Underdog is 6-0 ATS in their last six meetings.
*Over is 5-0 in the last five meetings between the teams in Oakland.
*Raiders are 4-0 ATS in their last four games in September.
1. Palmer's top two career passing performances have come against the Chargers. He threw for 440 yards versus San Diego in 2006 while with the Bengals and registered 417 yards in the 2011 season finale.
2. Oakland is 36-15-1 in home openers, the third-best mark in the NFL.
3. Rivers has thrown for 24,137 yards since becoming San Diego's starter, ranking behind only Brees (28,394).