The Raiders travel across the country to take on first-time NFL head coach Matt Rhule and the rebuilding Carolina Panthers. Here’s what to watch for during Raiders vs. Panthers on Sunday.
Las Vegas Raiders @ Carolina Panthers 1 pm/est, Raiders -3.
The wait is over.
Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season is here. As the Las Vegas Raiders travel to Carolina to open the 2020 campaign, they look to cure their east coast demons early. Since 2010, the Raiders are 5-21 in the Eastern time zone – the worst record of any team during that stretch. Here’s what to watch for during Raiders vs. Panthers on Sunday in Charlotte.
The Raiders had a very active off-season, adding youth and athleticism all over the field to get the Las Vegas era off on the right foot. With coronavirus, some shocking roster decisions, and a few major injuries, fan’s expectations have simmered slightly. However, the Raiders should be better in all three phases of the game and be highly competitive in Jon Gruden and Derek Carrs third season together.
In their Week 1 opponent, the Raiders face an team who has had perhaps more changes than anyone else in the league in the Carolina Panthers. Carolina hired former college coach Matt Rhule and spent big on free agent QB Teddy Bridgewater to put themselves in position to compete in the NFC South. Adding multiple pieces to an offense that featured Christian Mccaffery has Carolina poised to get better in 2020.
Will the improved Raiders team prevail or will Teddy Bridgewater have a triumphant debut?
Christian Mccaffery Vs. Las Vegas Raiders LB’s
The Raiders made vast improvements to their linebacker corps in 2020 and it’s going to need to be on full display on Sunday. Christian McCaffery had 116 receptions in 2019 – 24 more than any other running back in football. Ideally, Paul Guenther will have a game plan to minimize linebackers covering Mccaffery. In situations it does occur, marquee free agent Corey Littleton and Nicholas Morrow are going to have to step-up.
Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards Vs. Troy Pride Jr. and Donte Jackson
The buzz around the Raiders this off-season has been high due to the two talented rookie wide receivers Mike Mayock selected in this year’s NFL Draft. Edwards and Ruggs III couldn’t ask for a juicier match-up to start their highly anticipated careers. The Panthers starting corners are Donte Jackson (PFF grade of 55.6 last season) and Troy Pride Jr. who is a rookie fourth-round pick by the Panthers this season. Gruden will have his offense humming and the two prolific rookies will look to take advantage of the Panthers’ lack of cornerback depth.
Raiders Interior O-Line Vs. Kawaan Short and Derrick Brown
In the 2020 draft the Carolina, spent the fifth overall pick on Auburn’s Derrick Brown to go with Kawwan Short on the Panthers defensive line. The Pairing of Brown and Short creates one of the best defensive tackle tandems in football. Looking to thwart the big debut of this pair are the Raiders mammoth interior o-linemen Richie Incognito, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson. This match-up will play a major factor in the outcome of the game because the Raiders offense is built around the running game, so look for both teams to make this a focus of the opening game.
Christian McCaffery should always make you nervous but the Raiders are improved enough to win this game and should win the game. The young Raiders secondary will take some lumps early but gain some swagger in the second half to help shut down the Carolina offense. After a good first game from their rookie wide receiver duo, they ride Josh Jacobs and control the clock to the close road victory to open the season.
Score: Raiders 27 Panthers 21
Derek Carr: 23/29, 225 yards, 2 touchdowns
Josh Jacobs: 10 Yards, 1 touchdown
Henry Ruggs: 3 rec, 79 yards, 1 touchdown