Take a quick glance at the tale of the tape for Monday night’s AFC West showdown between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders:
Chargers QB Philip Rivers topped 4,000 yards for the fourth straight season in 2011 but also had a career-high 20 interceptions. Vincent Jackson packed his bags for Tampa Bay and was replaced by wideouts Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem in the offseason. San Diego will be without the services of running back Ryan Mathews, who is still recovering from a broken collarbone.
Raiders RB Darren McFadden was limited to just seven games in 2011 because of a foot injury. He hasn't played in all 16 games in any of his four NFL seasons and will get the chance to play alongside QB Carson Palmer for the first time Monday. Receiver Jacoby Ford won’t play in the opener because of a left foot injury.
San Diego has a new defensive coordinator, John Pagano, as it tries to bounce back from an 8-8 campaign last season. The club used its first three draft picks to select defensive players, including outside linebacker Melvin Ingram in the first round.
The Raiders look to tighten up a defense that became the sixth since the 1970 merger to give up at least 4,000 passing yards and 2,000 rushing yards in one season. The silver and gold will debut a new defensive scheme Monday night. The team has a whole new set of cornerbacks, led by Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer and two new starters at linebacker in rookie Miles Burris and Philip Wheeler.
The Chargers’ special teams unit was a disgrace last season. The unit surrendered 21 points through the first five games and punter Mike Scifres had five of his punts blocked last season. Rich Biasaccia, who was the highly-regarded special teams coordinator for the Buccaneers in 2010, is now in charge of sorting out of the mess.
Nobody attempted more field goals of over 50 yards last season than Sebastian Janikowski. The Florida State product has nailed at least 80 percent of his field-goal attempts in each of the last four seasons.
Word on the street
"It’s a challenge. When you think about the things that are involved in going up there to play, you’ve got the crowd noise, the environment, and the Raiders’ defensive players who are very physical. You also have the energy of opening day and Monday Night Football on top of that. We’re going to have to be very smart in terms of managing the situations we’re in.” -- Chargers head coach Norv Turner on playing in Oakland.
“Looks to me like (Antonio) Gates is fully healthy and running really well so he’s obviously a challenge. They lost one of their wide receivers and replaced him with another guy that I’m familiar with, Robert Meachem, who can run down the field and stretch the field so they’ve obviously changed but I don’t think the philosophy of what they’re going to do has changed.” -- Raiders head coach Dennis Allen on what he expects from the Chargers in Week 1