The Las Vegas Raiders have their hands full kicking off the 2020 season on the road in Charlotte, North Carolina. They will take on the Carolina Panthers in Bank of America stadium. Don’t be surprised if this is a nail biter, these teams are closer than you think.
When: Sunday, September 13, 1:00 AM ET
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte NC
Since the Panthers came in the league, they are 3-3 against the Raiders with a 2-1 mark at home. Their last meeting was in 2016 when the Raiders defended their home turf in a showdown that ended 35-32. Will Carolina get their revenge in Matt Rhule’s first NFL game as a head coach?
The Raiders and the Panthers are mirror opponents
These two teams are more similar than not. Both rely heavily on the run game with Josh Jacobs and Christian McCaffrey, respectively. I expect that to be the same here as Derek Carr gets the wheels going and Teddy Bridgewater comes into a new system. Both signal-callers also like to play conservative with clock management, check-downs, and every now and then, take shots when defenses allow it. In the receiving department, the Panthers have a pair of solid receivers in D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson. However, given the new system and the fact this is Bridgewater’s first year with the team, Raiders receivers Zay Jones and Rookie Henry Ruggs III may not be that far behind.
In the trenches, the Panthers front one of the toughest defensive lines in the NFL while the Raiders possess one of the toughest offensive lines. On the other side, the Raiders defensive line can show flashes of greatness at times, then go missing, much like Carolina’s offensive line.
The coaching is going to be the biggest factor here as Matt Rhule has his first NFL game against Jon Gruden. Both of these men have a lot of young and unproven talent in their grasp, and both also have holes in areas that can be exploited by the opposing quarterback. It is going to be interesting to see how they prepare for each other.
We all know linebacker Tahir Whitehead and wide receiver Seth Roberts will be itching to get back at the Raiders, but we also know there are quite a few Raiders players that are going to feel at home in Carolina, and these guys will be itching to make a note of it. Let’s not forget that the Raiders have been no stranger to grabbing Clemson players in the draft. Guys like Clelin Ferrell, Hunter Renfrow, and Trayvon Mullen should see going back to Charlotte like a homecoming. Adding to that, other contributors such as Zay Jones, A.J. Cole, and Bryan Edwards also went to school in the area and would most likely be feeling at home too.
While both teams should start off slow shaking off the rust, I expect them to go blow for blow and keep it fairly close. Stats will most likely be similar when the dust settles but in the end its Jon Gruden against newcomer Matt Rhule. I will take the veteran coach any day in that match up.
Raiders 21 – Panthers 17
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Top Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press