After an especially long and uncertain layoff, a full slate of NFL Sunday matchups will be back September 13th. Some stadiums will be filled with minimal fans, while others will be left eerily empty – but at least the sport is back.
Week 1 brings us a series of fascinating matchups, and the Carolina Panthers hosting the first-ever game of the Las Vegas Raiders is certainly one of them. Both squads made some noticeable changes in the off-season, and will be looking to begin their campaigns with what they likely both feel is a winnable game.
The Panthers have been rebuilt in many different departments. Teddy Bridgewater is now in under centre, while new coach Matt Rhule will be looking to put his own personal touches on his new roster.
For the Raiders, they’ll likely be playing for their old fan base out in Oakland, as well as newly interested fans in Vegas. They return many starters, and consistency from Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden should help the on-field product take another step forward.
This is just one of a number of exciting Week 1 match-ups during the early hour, and you could certainly argue it has more meaning than most with it being the Raiders’ first game as a Vegas team. Will they be able to improve from last season and begin their new campaign with a victory? Or will Matt Rhule and his new-look Panthers be able to hold them off? Read on below the posted odds for full game analysis and a betting preview for this Week 1 clash between Oakland and Carolina!
Raiders vs. Panthers Betting Odds:
Las Vegas Raiders -3 (+100)
@ Carolina Panthers +3 (-120)
Over 48 (-110)
Under 48 (-110)
*Betting odds provided by BetOnline.ag
Raiders vs. Panthers Pick:
Despite not having any pre-season and not really seeing various schemes and players, I wouldn’t expect this Carolina defense to be all that great in 2020. Last year was a tough one for the Panthers, especially when it came to stopping the run – and with minimal changes, expect the Raiders to really be able to set the tone on Sunday. Josh Jacobs is already an elite back, and should be able to have quite the day against Carolina.
The trouble does not stop there for the Panthers though, as their secondary too is quite porous. They’ve lost key pieces, and replaced them with injured players – and as a result Derek Carr should be able to throw downfield pretty successfully. The Raiders have a bunch of skilled receivers that should be able to make plays and keep the chains moving here in Week 1.
For Carolina to keep games close this season, they’re going to have to do it with their offense. They’ve brought in dual-threat quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and still have the immensely talented Christian McCaffrey at running back and D.J. Moore at receiver. Those three can all make plays at high levels and will likely represent the Panthers’ few glimmers of hope each week.
Oakland however has done well to bolster their defense in the off-season, especially at linebacker. Nick Kwiatowski and Cory Littleton both add depth to the position and that duo should be handy in terms of keeping McCaffrey in check.
Beyond the run game for the Panthers, there is also a lot of ‘new’ within this Carolina offense. It’s been a while since Bridgewater had his own team and a system to adapt to. It surely has to be tough learning a new system in a shortened off-season, without any pre-season games. Don’t be surprised to see some growing pains from Carolina early this year.
Despite this being an early start time with a west-coast team visiting, don’t expect a sluggish outing from anybody in Week 1. These teams are raring to go, and especially the new-look Raiders. With their playmakers on offense, a sturdy offensive line, and a defense that matches up well with an unproven Carolina team, laying the three points in Week 1 seems to be a solid bet. Roll with the Raiders to get their first win for Vegas on Sunday.