This is a game preview for the San Diego Chargers defense against an Oakland Raiders offense that will be somewhat of a mystery.
The Raiders QB will be Carson Palmer, who has played 1.5 games with the Silver & Black (and 1.5 games total this season) and will be playing with a sore shoulder. Their star RB Darren McFadden has missed almost all of the last 2 games for Oakland and is expected to miss tonight's action as well. Their rocket-footed Kicker, Sebastian Janikowski, is nursing a hamstring injury and probably won't be ready to boom FGs 55+ yards.
The question becomes how the Raiders adapt to those injuries and new faces. Do they try and run it down the throat of the Chargers defense? Not likely, with Michael Bush and not-much-else carrying the rock for them. Do they open it up and let Carson Palmer sling the ball around on the likes of Marcus Gilchrist and Antoine Cason? Maybe, but Palmer still has some rust to knock off and that shoulder might be sore enough to take away some downfield strength.
The Chargers have seemed like a poor matchup for the Raiders for the past few years, and even when they've escaped with victory it has been more difficult than many thought it would be. Oakland typically out-toughs the Chargers on the line, giving their QB all the time in the world to find an open receiver and giving their RBs enough of a hole to get the first down.
Antwan Barnes is the only real pass-rushing threat on the Chargers with Shaun Phillips scheduled to miss the game, but he'll spend much of this game on the sidelines watching Travis LaBoy play his position because LaBoy does better against the run. This plays right into the hands of the Raiders, who will try and throw when LaBoy's on the field (giving extra time to Palmer) and will try and run at Barnes when he's on the field.
This matchup of two beat-up teams will come down to coaching, Hue Jackson vs. Greg Manusky, when the Raiders offense is on the field.