San Diego Chargers' quarterback Philip Rivers
Is Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hiding an injury? Reuters

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are set to square off on Monday night in their 2012 NFL season opener.

The contest is set to get underway at 10:15 p.m. ET at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. If you can't get to a TV, you can watch free a live stream online at

The two teams will battle in what is expected to be a highly contested AFC West. Both clubs finished at 8-8 in 2011, but out of the playoffs.

Unlike last year, the Raiders will probably have the same quarterback for the entire season. They acquired Carson Palmer at last year's trade deadline. He went 4-6 as Oakland's starter.

Oakland is starting 2012 healthier than they were a year ago. Darren McFadden was having one of the best seasons of any running back, before missing nine games with an injury. He recorded 614 yards in just seven games.

San Diego is often expected to be one of the top teams in the AFC, but has a habit of underachieving. Philip Rivers is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2011 campaign, in which he threw 20 interceptions.

The Chargers will likely have an improved defense, as they drafted defensive players with their first three picks. They took Melvin Ingram with the 18th overall selection. The linebacker was named to the first-team All-SEC in his final year at South Carolina.

It's expected to be a highly contested game. The Raiders are one-point favorites in the opener.

Prediction: The Chargers are one of the most talented teams in the league, but don't always play up to their potential. Rivers struggled at times in 2011, but he is unquestionably better than Palmer. The Raiders quarterback has proven that he is no longer a top player at his position.

Predicted Score: San Diego 30, Oakland 20