What we know:
This very first game will tell Raider Nation how much hope to have for this season. 4 or 8 wins? Respect or disrespect?
There has been some improvement, but the Raiders still have a lot to work on.
Last season, the Raiders went 0-2 versus the Chargers.
The first game was at home and the Raiders were leading at half-time 15-0, only to be outscored 28-3 in the second half. This game showcased Kiffin and Ryan's inability to adjust at half-time.
The second game was in San Diego. The Raiders' offense was terrible, being held to zero points. The Raiders 7 points came on a Justin Miller kick return.
In comes two rookie receivers with 4.3 speed, Mario Henderson, Greg Ellis, Tyvon Branch and Oren O'Neal.
Shawn Merriman is the only notable addition to the Chargers lineup.
What to watch:
Heyward-Bey vs. Cromartie - We all know the eyes are on the receiver, but are the eyes also on Cromartie? There is talk the Chargers may let Cromartie walk when his contract expires. He is a boom or bust CB that takes chances. He is a guy that can cost you a game by getting burned or win it for you by picking a pass. Heyward-Bey has the unique opportunity to make Cromartie look bad. Russell needs to help. He can do so by avoiding starring down Hayward-Bey. This will ensure Cromartie doesn't have the opportunity to make a big play.
Murphy vs. Jammer - The other rookie starts opposite Jammer. Jammer is much more even player, but has shown in the past he can be beat, especially on inside routes where Murphy has shown ability to operate.
Henderson vs. Merriman - It remains to be seen if Merriman is back to his explosive self after missing last year. Henderson quietly put up a solid camp and preseason and solidified his job. Henderson needs to handle his side so the help can be shifted to the right to help Cornell Green.
Morrison vs Tomlinson - I know the MLB vs. RB is a cliche matchup and really there are a lot of variables, but Morrison has an injured elbow that may hamper his tackling. Some people think LT is hitting a wall and wont be the same. This matchup could go one of four ways.
Ellis vs. Clary/Vasquez - Our second newest defensive lineman looked good in the preseason and training camp. He is facing the weaker side of the Chargers line and with a little help from Kelly or a blitzing Ricky Brown we can force Rivers to roll left in passing situations. Asomugha patrols the left and this is also typically the side were you would see Chambers and not Jackson, who carves up the Raiders secondary.
Morris vs. Williams - Can the unlikely starter control Jamall Williams? Williams usually commands two blockers, when he is able to eat up two blockers the excellent SD linebackers can make plays.
Russell vs Russell - JaMarcus will be facing plenty of obstacles tonight, but none of them are as big as Russell himself. He needs to make the correct reads, not stare down his receivers, keep his mechanics compact and quick and make sure his feet are underneath him. No one doubts his ability, he can make throws no one else can. Can he do the things that make him accurate? Can he do the things that give him time to throw and open receivers? How good is Paul Hackett?
Cable's Playcalling - Last season, Cable's calls were gutsy and creative. He was coaching like he had nothing to lose and other than the infamous fake field goal in KC it was refreshing. Will it remain this way or will he revert to a more conservative coaching style? We will find out tonight. We also will found out just how much Cable is willing to pass. It seemed like the Raiders hardly ran 10 rushing plays in all four preseason games.
Seymour - How much will he play? Will him being in cause problems for the defense? Will he help the run defense? I know he should help in the future, but no one knows how much he will be able to do having just a day to prepare.
More to come as the game approaches. Twitter is a useful tool, in that I don't have to blog about all the little developments. You should check me out: http://twitter.com/Raidersblog