The Carolina Panthers play against the Las Vegas Raiders week one in Charlotte, NC to kick off the 2020 NFL season. September 13 will be the first time Panthers fans have a chance see the team play under newly hired Head Coach Matt Rhule.
With a shortened offseason and no preseason games, week one could possibly be rough to watch. Many things will factor into this matchup, so let us take a look at what you need to know before kick off.
The Raiders roll into Charlotte
Heading into Charlotte, the Raiders will be missing two “major” pieces to their offense. Tyrell Williams who was put on Injured Reserve (IR) and starting right tackle Trent Brown who has been dealing with a leg injury throughout camp.
Losing both Williams and Brown will hurt week one, but will not completely ruin the offense. The Raiders have a strong offensive line and plenty of options at the wide receiver position. Leading the receiving core for the Raiders will be first round pick Henry Ruggs III, followed by Zay Jones and Hunter Renfrow as the presumed starters. Not to forget the top five receiving threat at tight end in Darren Waller.
In the third season under Head Coach Jon Gruden, expect the Raiders to try and establish the run early. Second year running back Josh Jacobs will be looking to improve on what was an outstanding rookie season. He rushed for 1,150 yards and seven touchdowns in only 13 games last season. Establishing the running game early will then allow the Raiders to take some chances throwing the ball on play action, catching the defense on edge.
Looking at the Raiders Defense
The Raiders have announced that starting at the safety position will be Erik Harris alongside second year player Johnathan Abram. Starting on the outside will be rookie Damon Arnette and another second year player Trayvon Mullen. The Raiders seem to be playing a 4-2-5 defense, which is four defensive lineman with two linebackers and five defensive backs – with a focus on speed. Having five players starting on defense that are within their first two years in the league can call for big plays for the Panthers if they can pick on the inexperience.
Carolina Panthers young defense in week 1
The Carolina Panthers have shown in camp of the possibility of also running a 4-2-5 defense like explained above. The Panthers fourth round draft pick Troy Pride Jr. will start opposite of Donte Jackson at corner and we also know Tre Boston will start at safety along with Juston Burris and Jeremy Chinn.
Last, the defensive line, where first round pick Derrick Brown will start alongside Kawann Short. For the defensive end, Brian Burns will start on one side with Yetur Gross-Matos on the opposite side. The potential of this line is huge, but there may be a few hiccups as the rookies get used to the speed of the NFL.
This leaves the Panthers with a possible four rookies starting on the defensive side of the football. Can the speedy Raiders skill position players take advantage?
Can the offense live up to the hype?
Teddy Bridgewater will make his Panthers debut with an incredibly fast team. The Panthers will start D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Curtis Samuel, all big play threats and flexible in their positions. Third year tight end Ian Thomas will begin the season as the starter for the first time in his career – giving him a chance to flourish.
It goes without saying that all world superstar Christian McCaffrey is starting at running back.
The key to the offense playing to it’s full potential is getting the football out in space as quick as possible to the playmakers. Matt Rhule did say he plans to keep McCaffrey at about 20-25 touches a game, leaving the defense on their toes.
After the poor offensive line play of recent years, the line can make or break week one. A hopeful bright spot is the acquisition of Russell Okung to secure the left tackle position. This has been an issue for several years now nad Okung is a top tier player when healthy. With almost a complete revamp of the offensive line, the only returning starters are center Matt Paradis and right tackle Taylor Moton.
For a successful game, the Panthers will need to get McCaffrey going early and often. Getting the defense to focus on one player will allow the Panthers to stretch the field with Robby Anderson and the other speedy playmakers. Hopefully, a good balance of run and pass will discourage the Raiders from loading the box to stop McCaffrey and not allowing the offense to become one dimensional early.
Week 1 game conditions
As stated in the beginning, the game will be in Charlotte, NC with a start time of 1 pm ET. The weather should be around 82 degrees with a low chance of rain and minimal wind.
Announced at the beginning of September, the first game will be played with no fans. The NFL is allowing teams to play fan noise to replicate the sound of a home game. Every stadium has different architecture from each other for sound, the highest decibels the NFL is allowing is 70 at kickoff time. A comparison is a “noisy restaurant” but quieter than an alarm clock or vacuum cleaner. The highest decibels in an NFL stadium recorded was at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, measured at 142 decibels.
Week 1 matchup summary
Final Score 31-24
The Las Vegas Raiders have a more all around team with few weak points. The speedy offense of the Raiders should leave the Panthers to play from behind, something they may not be equipped to do.
With a weak secondary and leaky offensive line play from the Panthers, the Raiders win this one early. Leaving the Panthers 0-1 heading into week two at home against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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