After an offseason of changes and additions, the Las Vegas Raiders are ready to kick off their 2020 season. In their season opener, they will take on the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Here are some reasons why the Silver and Black will come out with their first win of the year.
The Raiders are a better team than the Panthers on paper
This is head coach Matt Rhule’s debut with the Panthers. He took over the team following the dismissal of Ron Rivera after a 5-7 record to start the 2019 season. Although inexperience could play a role in the team’s performance in Week 1, there are other reasons why they might struggle against the Raiders and most of them have to do with personnel.
1. They have a better defensive line
To begin with, the Raiders offensive line should dominate the line of scrimmage. All their starters from last year came back and all of them are healthy. Carolina has a couple of talented players in their front four in defensive tackle Kwan Short and defensive end Brian Burns. However, the Panthers lack proven talent outside those two after deciding not to bring back last year’s top pass-rushers, Mario Anderson and Bruce Irving.
2020 first-round pick Derrick Brown will start next to Short and second-round selection Yetur Gross-Matos will play opposite of Burns. Even though both rookies have plenty of upside, it will be a tall order to ask them to dominate in their first NFL game ever. The Raiders veteran offensive line shouldn’t have problems winning this matchup.
2. Their wide receivers should feast on the Panthers secondary
Cornerback Troy Pride Jr. will make his NFL debut against the Raiders, and so is safety Jeremy Chin. Both of them have a solid collegiate career but they could be prone to mistakes. Donte Jackson will start at the other cornerback position, he started 26 games in his first two years. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden will likely test the Panthers secondary early in the game. If he’s successful in his attempt, the Silver and Black’s passing game will open things up for running back Josh Jacobs, which will in turn put the Raiders in a favorable position.
3. Josh Jacobs will help the Raiders control the clock
Speaking of the running game, the Raiders need to get Josh Jacobs involved early in the game. The Panthers allowed 31 touchdowns in 2019, the worst figure in the league and even though they added Brown and Gross-Matos in the draft, they will have a hard time moving up the list significantly. We already said that the Raiders should dominate the line of scrimmage and that will directly benefit Jacobs.
The Raiders have favorable matchups against the Panthers in Week 1. Although they will test the young secondary early, don’t expect this game to be a high-scoring affair. Gruden’s philosophy emphasized ball control and he won’t likely change it this upcoming game. A 17-24 score and the Raiders first win of the season seem like a good bet.
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