The Las Vegas Raiders and the Carolina Panthers have a brief history with a tied record of 3-3 in their meetings. This season, they will play against each other in Week 1.
Rewind to November 27, 2016 in Week 12. On that day, the Raiders were constructing their path to the playoffs, and took on Cam Newton and his Panthers in Oakland. The game was memorable for most fans due to Khalil Mack’s pick-six in the second quarter. Moreover, Derek Carr led a fourth-quarter drive that ultimately tied the game. Eventually, Sebastian Janikowski sealed the win with a 23-yard field goal.
The Panthers Dual-Threat
Now, return to 2020, when the Raiders face off with the Panthers in their home turf. Las Vegas has seen a roster overhaul since the last meeting in 2016. On their end, the Panthers have also seen plenty of player turnaround themselves. Gone are quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly, and even head coach Ron Rivera. Former Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater is now the Panthers starting quarterback, but the Raiders will have their hands full stopping another offensive playmaker.
Dual-threat Christian McCaffrey has been a dynamic, efficient, and volatile weapon for the Panthers since 2017. Last year, he rushed for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns. It’s not that he runs the smoothest or most complex routes, but he breaks out wide and gets yards after the catch. This year, Carolina will be deploying an entirely new system under new head coach Matt Rhule. However, there is no doubt that McCaffrey (who took 93% of the snaps last season) will be his primary weapon.
Related: Raiders 2020 Schedule: Sin City Is Ready for Prime-time
What Does This Mean?
If the Raiders want to win, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther must begin to scheme around McCaffrey now. The defensive line, along with their reformed linebacker corps, needs to neutralize McCaffrey. Week 1 is bound to be exciting where the new Panthers will also have their hands full with the Raiders for an electrifying first match of the season. This writer is predicting the Raiders start the season 1-0 on the road.
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*Top Photo: Brian Blanco/Associated Press