3 important matchups to watch against the Raiders in Week 1

(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Brian Burns
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /

Teddy Bridgewater vs. Raiders’ linebackers

The Raiders have a solid group of linebackers. Pro Football Focus rates both Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski among the NFL’s top-15 linebackers. They are both solid in run defense as well as coverage.

Teddy Bridgewater is known for being a very efficient passer in the middle of the field. He likes to get the ball to his receivers and tight ends on slant or crossing routes. Unfortunately for him, this is exactly where the Raiders defense is the strongest. When McCaffrey runs routes out of the backfield Las Vegas will likely use one of their stud linebackers to cover him as well.

Bridgewater does not have to change up his game. He just needs to be incredibly accurate with his passes when targeting his receivers in the middle of the field. The quickest way from having the lead in a game turn into a deficit is by turning the football over.

Even though the Raiders have great linebacker play this doe not mean that McCaffrey can’t still be used in the passing game as a big mismatch. It is unlikely that either linebacker can stay with CMC one-on-one which is a big way the Panthers move the football.

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If Bridgewater can deliver the football to his playmakers in the middle of the field without making any mistakes, then the Panthers should have a great chance of starting the season 1-0.