The NFL season is finally upon us and we get a fairly interesting matchup in Week 1 that will take place in Charlotte. Jon Gruden and the now-Las Vegas Raiders travel across the country to take on the Carolina Panthers this weekend — and it’s fair to say that both teams are entering a new era. Gruden is trying to turn the Raiders back into a winning franchise in a new location while first-year head coach Matt Rhule is out to prove that he belongs in this league.

The Raiders appeared ready to make a late push for a spot in the postseason last year, but a four-game losing streak at the end of the season took them out of contention. They even lost their last two games in Oakland, which was tough to watch even if you aren’t a Raiders fan. Still, this team does appear to be headed in the right direction and possesses young talent on both sides of the ball. The quarterback position is still one to watch, however. As for the Panthers, they are an entirely different team. No more Ron Rivera, Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen or James Bradberry. They still do have Christian McCaffrey, but can the versatile offensive weapon single-handedly win games for this young team?

Below, we will get you caught up on the most intriguing betting angles to get you locked in before kickoff. All odds are via William Hill Sportsbook. 

How to watch

Date: Sunday, September 13 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)
CBS | Stream: CBS All Access
Follow: CBS Sports App

Raiders (-3) at Panthers 

Back in May, this line originally opened up with the Panthers as one-point favorites! To be fair, however, a lot has taken place in Carolina over the past four months. The spread has moved in the Raiders’ favor by about an average of a point per month, and it now currently sits at -3. 

The pick: Raiders -3. The all-time series between these two teams is tied 3-3 with the Panthers having won two out of the past three. As CBS Sports NFL writer Patrik Walker notes in his preview, however, this matchup is about rookie versus veteran coaches. Expect McCaffrey to receive plenty of touches both on the ground and through the air, but I’m picking the Raiders to win this game against a rebuilding Panthers team.

Over/Under 47.5

The Raiders were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NFL last season, as they averaged just 19.6 points per contest. I expect this offense to be better in 2020, but how much better is yet to be determined. The Panthers weren’t much better in 2019, as they averaged 21.3 points per game, but they upgraded at quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Still, the Saints averaged just 25 points a game with him as their starter in five games last season, and I would be shocked if Carolina got close to that number in the season opener.

Pick: Under 47.5. With any contest in Week 1, I would stay away from betting on the total. Due to the lack of a preseason and offseason in general, we have no idea which teams are going to show more rust than others, but I expect both to run the ball plenty in this matchup.

First half: Raiders -1.5, O/U 23.5

The pick: Raiders -1.5. I have the Raiders winning this game and I am unafraid to predict that they will hold a halftime lead. With this small of a spread, go ahead and take it. 

Player props 

Josh Jacobs total receiving yards: Over 16.5 (-115). Jacobs caught just 20 passes in 13 games last season, but he has made it clear that he wants to be more involved in the passing game, even saying he wants to catch 60 balls this season. I predict he will make several catches in this game, and 18 yards is not hard to clear. 

Christian McCaffrey total receiving yards: Over 52.5 (-105). With this being Rhule’s first game as an NFL head coach, I expect him to give McCaffrey plenty of touches. The Pro Bowl running back averaged over 62 receiving yards a game last year, and I believe 52.5 is too low of a benchmark in the season opener. With how explosive he is, it could take him just a handful of catches to get to the Over. 

Darren Waller total receptions: Over 4.5 (-130). Waller was Derek Carr’s undisputed favorite receiver in 2019, as he caught 90 of his 117 targets for 1,145 yards and three touchdowns. No other player on the Raiders even reached 50 receptions. Through basic math, we can see that Waller averaged over five catches a game last season, but there’s another reason to be excited about this prop: Waller will be working the middle of the field against a young linebacker corps that does not include the likes of Luke Kuechly. Carr should be looking Waller’s way early and often on Sunday. 

Derek Carr passing completions: Under 23.5 (+110). The 23.5 line for completions is an interesting one for Carr. Deshaun Watson looked a bit inaccurate during his 2020 debut and finished with just 20 completions while Patrick Mahomes barely went over on this number on Thursday night with 24. Yes, the Chiefs did run the ball plenty with rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire, but this Raiders game could end up being a lot like the Chiefs’ victory earlier this week. If the Raiders establish an early lead, Jacobs is sure to get plenty of work on the ground. Carr recorded the second-most completions of his career last season with 361. Still, that’s just an average of 22.5 completions per game. If Carr looks rusty or the Raiders jump out to an early lead, those are both factors that could help you hit the Under here. 


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