As of today, August 27th, 2020, there are 16 days until the Las Vegas Raiders take on the Carolina Panthers in week one. Here at BroSports, we’re going to release one Raiders game prediction a day until kickoff. We’re going to take a look at how we think the Raiders will match up with each opponent, what we think the score will be, and track those Raiders wins and losses throughout the season.
Today, the Raiders take on the Carolina Panthers on the road.
Las Vegas Raiders 2020 Predictions: Week One
The Panthers at a Glance
Let’s be honest, every conversation about the Carolina Panthers begins and ends with one man, runningback Christian McCaffrey. Last year’s rightful Offensive Player of the Year, CMC is just as deadly as a receiver (broke his own record for receptions by a tailback in a season in 2019) as a rusher, and even with the addition of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, remains the main focus of their offense.
Defensively, the Panthers boast a lot of speed. Brian Burns is an up-and-coming edge rusher, and starting corner Donte Jackson posted a 4.32 30 yard dash at the combine. Raiders fans may chortle as the Panthers have a familiar face, Tahir Whitehead, as their starting mike linebacker.
After parting with longtime head coach Ron Rivera halfway through last season, the Panthers brought in Baylor’s head coach, Matt Rhule to run the show during the off-season.
A Great Test
For years, the Raiders neglected the linebacker positions. Pick after pick went to defensive backs, the Raiders tried and failed to find a rusher to complement Khalil Mack, and the best that former GM, Reggie McKenzie, ironically a linebacker himself, would do was bring in veterans like Perry Riley Jr. and Navarro Bowman for brief stints. As a result, the Raiders have struggled to cover tight ends and running backs in the passing game.
However, Mike Mayock changed that this off-season, bringing in Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton in free agency as well as rookies Tanner Muse and Javin White. Littleton is one of the best coverage linebackers in football, and Muse and White split time at linebacker and safety in college.
What better test could there be for coverage linebackers than arguably the best receiving back in league history?
The best thing that the Raiders have going for them is that they are bringing back so many starters and coaches from last season. The Raiders are bringing back the same starters at so many core positions, namely quarterback and offensive line. More importantly, Gruden and both coordinators are coming back, and the impressive 2019 rookie class should only improve in their sophomore seasons.
Sure, they’re expecting productions from a handful of rookies, namely wide receivers Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards, but for the most part, everyone knows and understands the team’s scheme and should be more than prepared for the challenge.
I think the Raiders have a few things going for them. Firstly, Tahir Whitehead will be covering the team’s tight ends and tailbacks. Knowing how much Carr loves to throw to those two position groups, and having suffered through Whitehead’s coverage ability (or lack thereof) in Oakland, Raider Nation should be salivating.
Secondly, while the Raiders have been a symbol of continuity during Jon Gruden’s second stint with the team, the Panthers have undergone a lot of change this off-season. This is their first game with Bridgewater under center, Rhule as the head coach, Joe Brady as the offensive coordinator, and Phil Snow as the defensive coordinator. The entire coaching staff is making the jump from college to the pros, the team hasn’t had as much as a preseason game to practice, and if we’re being completely honest, I’m still not sold on Teddy Bridgewater.
I think the Raiders come out with a close win here, assuming they can overcome the dreaded EST time zone and Christian McCaffrey doesn’t just completely take over the game and run all over the Raiders.