You’ve got the juice now, Matt Rhule. There’s a new sheriff in town leading the Carolina Panthers, and not simply with Rhule taking the reins as head coach following the departure of Ron Rivera to the Washington Football Team. Along with Rhule comes a slew of changes, but none bigger than the move at quarterback. The Panthers decided to part ways with their former first-overall pick and former league MVP Cam Newton this offseason, marking the first time they’ve been without him in the locker room since 2011. In comes another former first-round pick in Teddy Bridgewater, hoping to prove he can lead an NFL franchise to the promised land.

Jon Gruden will have something to say about that though, and plenty of motivation to hand the Panthers a loss in their 2020 home opener. It’s the inaugural season for the Raiders in Las Vegas and with the hype comes expectations of a winning team, and Gruden is currently 11-21 since rejoining the club as head coach in 2018. Derek Carr has made it clear he’s tired of what he perceives as disrespect to his playing ability, and it’s not like the Raiders lack for weapons around him to help make things difficult for Rhule and the Panthers defense. 

Neither team is being viewed as a contender in 2020, and they’re not naive to that reality, which only fuels them to prove they are. It begins with trying to beat each other into submission in Week 1, with one of the more legendary coaches in NFL history hoping to stave off one who has never led an entire team at this level.

But, can he? Let’s find out.

How to watch

Date: Sunday, Sept. 13, 2020 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, NC)
TV: CBS | Stream: CBS All Access
Follow: CBS Sports App  

Preview

The theme of this matchup isn’t hard to discern — it’s rookie versus veteran.

Rhule is a rookie NFL head coach and Gruden is anything but, with the latter also being forced to start four rookies in Week 1 while the Raiders look to lean heavily on veterans to get the job done. This will make for quite the challenge for the Panthers, especially seeing as there was no minicamp or preseason for the first-year players to acclimate. They had only an abbreviated training camp with minimal padded practices, giving a clear advantage to the Raiders, assuming veterans like Carr show up with the chip on his shoulder he proclaims is there. Carr was gifted rookie speedster Henry Ruggs, III in the 2020 NFL Draft to tandem with Hunter Renfrow, and Josh Jacobs has emerged as a premier halfback in the league, as has Darren Waller at the tight end position — time to tell the impact of adding future Hall of Famer Jason Witten this offseason.

Defensively, the Raiders made the move to bring in veteran defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli and some of his former Dallas Cowboys talent, such as safety Jeff Heath and defensive lineman Maliek Collins to help bolster a unit that will also see the return of former first-round pick Johnathan Abram at safety. There’s plenty of talent in Carolina, yes, and there’s no discounting the all-world impact of much wealthier Christian McCaffrey, who will likely give the Raiders fits on Sunday.

But in a world with little offseason training, the team with more experience has the easier road to victory.

Prediction

As stated, give the edge to the Raiders in this one, but not by a huge margin. Be sure to check out more on this game from our experts at CBSSports.com — including Will Brinson and Pete Prisco — to help with your game picks for this one and every matchup on the Week 1 slate.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here