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MNF San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders

One of the biggest line moves of Week 1 in the NFL has been on the Monday Night Football nightcap between San Diego and Oakland – the Chargers opened as favorites but are now dogs. Part of that could be due to the uncertain status of San Diego Pro Bowl running back Ryan Mathews. As of this writing, he still hasn’t been cleared for contact after breaking his clavicle in the Chargers’ first preseason game. So likely Ronnie Brown will be the starter for the opener.San Diego had won 14 straight games in this series entering the 2010 season, but the Raiders have won three of the past four. The teams split last year, each winning on the road. 

The Chargers were the worst in the NFL in stopping opposing offenses on third down a year ago, and it kept an average San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers struggled against five or more pass rushers last season. He was intercepted eight times when blitzed in 2011. So, look for Oakland to try to establish a consistent blitz against Rivers. And undrafted rookie Mike Harris will start at left tackle for San Diego because Jared Gaither, who helped stabilize the floundering Bolts late last season, wants to be fully recovered from back spasms before returning. Gaither has been out since July 28 anddefense on the field too long. The Chargers were exposed in their sub packages on passing downs, especially on the inside, where Carson Palmer will attack. A goal for the Chargers this preseason has been to create more turnovers and big plays on defense, and they have improved in that area heading into 2012. If San Diego can control Darren McFadden on first and second down to set up third-and-long situations, it opens up the possibility of passing mistakes by Palmer when he is forced to throw too much and the passes are too predictable.

Rivers is trying to recover from a debilitating 25 turnovers last season, including 20 interceptions. The left side of the offensive line is new, with Harris stepping in for Gaither, who in turn replaced the injured Marcus McNeill last season, and Tyronne Green replacing Kris Dielman, the hard-nosed left guard who retired due to the effects of a concussion.

The Chargers are 3-2 in season openers under coach Norv Turner, including 24-20 win in Oakland in 2009. Dennis Allen will coach first game for Oakland. Raiders coaches 9-8 all-time in first game with team.

WAGERWEB.COM ODDS: Raiders -1 (46.5)

CHARGERS NOTES:  Seek 3rd consecutive win against Raiders on MNF … Club has won 7 of past 8 at Oak … QB Philip Rivers (4,710 in ’10; 4,624 in ’11) joined Dan Fouts (’80-81), Warren Moon (’90-91), Peyton Manning (’09-10) & Drew Brees (’10-11) as only players with 4,500+ passing yards in consecutive seasons … For career, Rivers is 5-1 as starter at Oak. & has 10 TDs vs. 4 INTs & 102.2 passer rating … RB Ryan Mathews (1,091) reached 1,000 rush yards for 1st time in career last year. RB Ronnie Brown averages 94.5 rush yards per game vs. Oak. (4 career games) … TE Antonio Gates (593) has most career rec. in franchise history. Has 10 career TD rec. vs. Raiders in 18 games … WR Malcom Floyd averaged career-best 19.9 yards per catch in ’11 (43 catches, 856 yards). WR Robert Meachem will make Chargers debut after spending 4 seasons in NO (2008-11) … LB Takeo Spikes led team with 119 tackles last year. LB Shaun Phillips has 11.5 career sacks vs. Raiders, most vs. any team. Phillips ranks 3rd in franchise history with 60 sacks (Leslie O’Neal, 105.5; Lee Williams, 65.5) … S Eric Weddle had career-high 7 INTs in ’11WAGERWEB.COM TRENDS: Over is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Oakland. Chargers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 meetings in Oakland. Road team is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings. Chargers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 meetings. Underdog is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 meetings.RAIDERS NOTES: Dennis Allen makes NFL debut as head coach … Raiders have 36-15-1 (.702) record in home openers, 3rd-best in NFL … Club has won 3 of past 4 against Chargers … In 5 career starts vs. SD, QB Carson Palmer has completed 116 of 166 passes (69.9 pct.) for 1,739 yards with 13 TDs vs. 3 INTs & 122.5 passer rating. Palmer averages 354.3 passing yards per game at home as starter with Raiders … For career, RB Darren McFadden averages 5.5 yards per carry against AFC West (208 att., 1,138 yards). Raiders are 7-2 when McFadden has 100+ rush yards … WR Darrius Heyward-Bey had career-best in catches (64), receiving yards (975) & TDs (4) in ’11. Set career-high with 9 receptions in last game against SD. WR Denarius Moore averaged 18.7 yards per catch as rookie in ’11 (33 rec., 618 yards). In 2 career games vs. Chargers, Moore has 8 catches for 224 yards (28 avg.) with 2 TD catches … DTs Tommy Kelly (7.5 – career-high) & Richard Seymour (6) combined for 13.5 sacks last season.

SBA Take: We can’t help but take the revitalized Oakland Raider team and the over tonight. Seems like the smart plays.

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Monday, September 10th, 2012 NFL Betting 2012

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