ILB Kirk Morrison
The rookie from Coastal Carolina will also be asked to contribute as a receiver out of the backfield. He's made big plays each of the last two weeks, including a 67-yard catch-and-run in Week 2 and a touchdown reception in Week 3. Philip Rivers will continue to use Tolbert as a check-down option. Now, the rookie must prove he can stay productive even though opponents have some film on him.
Stopping Morrison will be no easy task. The fourth-year player out of San Diego State has topped 115 tackles every season he's been in the NFL. He also has an eye for the ball, swiping six interceptions between 2006 and 2007. Tolbert will have to play fundamentally-sound ball to keep Morrison in check, as this is the fastest linebacker Tolbert has ever been pitted against.
Defensive matchup to watch: DE Igor Olshansky vs. RT Cornell Green
DE Igor Olshansky
Olshansky will be matched up with journeyman Cornell Green. Green has played with five teams over the last 10 seasons and never started more than five games in a season until he arrived in Oakland in '07. Green has a solid frame (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) but lacks the strength to go toe-to-toe with Olshansky.
Olshansky must overwhelm Green at the point of attack and set up camp in the Raiders' backfield. Oakland is going to ride its one-two running back punch of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush until the Chargers prove they can stop it. If Olshansky can push the pile backwards and prevent the Raiders from hitting cutbacks for big gains, the Chargers' defense will be in for another big outing.
Prediction: Chargers 34-17
This is a new-look Raiders team, but the fundamental flaw remains the same: A lack of talent on the offensive and defensive lines. Look for the Chargers' offense to put big points on the board, which will put a ton of pressure on a Raiders offense not built to play from behind. If the Raiders are forced to put the ball in the air, the Chargers will harass QB JaMarcus Russell and force him into costly mistakes.
Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 15 years and covered the team since 2003.