Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch: Palmer vs. Chargers defense

September 10, 2012, 4:37 pm
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EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final part in a three-part series that spotlighted three Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch Monday, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN) at Coliseum.Tale of the tape
Palmer: 6-foot-5, 235 pounds, 10th season, USC
Chargers 'D': No. 16 total defense in 2011, No. 13 against the passTo say Carson Palmer has feasted on the Chargers defense throughout his career would be an understatement.Consider: he has a 122.5 career passing rating against San Diego, having completed 116 of 166 passes (69.9 percent) for 1,739 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions. And he's even better as the home QB, averaging 354.3 yards passing in the friendly confines.Not that that means much to Palmer at the moment."Its a good unit," he said. "Defensively theyve looked really good on film in the preseason. They played well against us last year in the finale. Their offense can score a ton of points. There are a lot of things to worry about. Theyve got a new coordinator. Week one you never know exactly what youre going to see. Youve got to be ready for everything."Were not real, real comfortable going into this. Weve had a great start to the week, were working extremely hard and were going to go in and we know we have to play our best football offensively to come out with the win."The Chargers are breaking in a new defensive coordinator in John Pagano, who had been their linebackers coach the previous four years and on the San Diego staff since 2002."Johns been here through all of this, all the way back to Wade Phillips," said Chargers coach Norv Turner. "I think we will be a mix of a lot of things weve done in the past. I think Johns experiences with the guys hes been with and his background is youre going to do what you have to do to match up with the team youre playing. We want to be a complete defense that has flexibility and is hopefully unpredictable."The Raiders will be tough for Pagano to gameplan against, though, if simply for the reason Palmer will share the backfield with Darren McFadden for the first time in a game that counts.The two should make each other all the more dangerous."Its been such a tease in the preseason because hes really only gotten a series here and there," Palmer said of McFadden. "I have no idea. Im like a kid in a candy store, I cant wait. Just the little that weve seen of him in the preseason, he brings so much to the field, and Im more excited about that than anything."The Raiders are 7-2 when McFadden rushes for at least 100 yards. McFadden is also averaging 5.5 yards per carry against the AFC West.So yeah, McFadden should make Palmer's job easier, so long as Palmer does not get enticed into a shootout with San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers."Were playing against Shaun Phillips and (Eric) Weddle and all those guys up front," Palmer said. "You cant worry about what theyre doing on offense. You cant force things because of how things go early. Youve got to take your completions when you can, and try to find ways to get touchdowns in the red zone and not field goals."Its a division game, a rivalry game. Those are always more important. I understand the importance of, especially early in the season, getting a division win is huge. There has been a longstanding tradition. This rivalry between these two teams is a big deal to the fan bases. Its a fight between Northern and Southern California." GUTIERREZ: Raiders-Chargers matchups to watch: Shaughnessy vs. Harris Streater vs. Jammer
Especially with the way the Raiders' season ended on New Year's Day, with a pratfall in playing host to the Chargers with a playoff berth on the line."We are well aware of who knocked us out," Palmer said. "Weve talked about that. We understand. We havent forgotten what happened last year."