Chargers Look for Quick Start vs. Raiders

The San Diego Chargers have given Coach Turner one more season to get this team to live up to expectations. A loss on opening weekend to the hated Raiders would not help the cause.

The Bolts, after two straight seasons of missing the playoffs, kick-off this season Monday night when they visit the Black Hole to play AFC West rival Oakland (10:15 pm Eastern, ESPN).

To review, San Diego started 4-1 last year, and considering the way the Chargers had closed seasons in recent years they looked like shoo-ins for the playoffs. But somehow this team lost six games in a row to fall to 4-7. Like clockwork, San Diego finished well, winning four of its last five, to tie Denver and Oakland atop the AFC West at 8-8. But the Chargers lost out on the tie-breakers.

On the other side of this matchup Oakland is working under yet another new head coach this season. Last year the Raiders got to 7-4, then lost four of their last five to end up in the same boat as San Diego. After that they canned Coach Jackson and brought in Coach Allen from Denver.

These two teams split their two games last year, the Raiders winning in San Diego 24-17 and the Chargers ruining the Raiders’ playoff hopes with a 38-26 victory on the last day of the season in Oakland.

In the first meeting between these teams last year the Raiders dominated, outrushing San Diego 191-75 and winning outright as seven-point dogs on the NFL odds.

But in the second meeting the Chargers won the ground war 153-103, scored on a 105-yard kick-off return and got the outright victory as 2.5-point dogs.

On a couple of key personnel notes for Monday’s game San Diego RB Ryan Mathews is very questionable as he deals with the aftermath of a broken collarbone suffered in the first quarter of the first pre-season game against Green Bay. And with LT Jared Gaither out rookie Mike Harris will be making his first NFL start Monday, protecting QB Philip Rivers’ blind side.

As far as the betting on Monday’s game goes several online sportsbooks were listing the Chargers as one- or -two-point favorites as recently as last week, but as of Friday afternoon it was the Raiders who were favored by a point at most NFL odds boards.

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