Stopping the run
The Carolina Panthers may have plenty of concerns surrounding their secondary. But the defensive line should be much improved.
This is especially evident on their interior thanks to the return of Pro Bowl veteran Kawann Short, who will be paired with a potentially elite prospect in No. 7 overall pick Derrick Brown at defensive tackle. It would be a big shock if this duo didn’t completely transform the Panthers’ run defense, which was one of the NFL’s worst statically in 2019.
Stopping the run against the Raiders is going to be critical. They boast a standout young performer in Josh Jacobs who thrived as a rookie on his way to 1,150 rushing yards and seven touchdowns from 242 carries. Another big leap forward is expected from the former Alabama standout as a sophomore and the Panthers will need to be strong up front to limit his production between the tackles.
The Raiders have an experienced offensive line that like nothing more than being physical at the line of scrimmage. Short and Brown will need to match this and provide a resolute presence on the interior that simply wasn’t there last time around.
Putting the game in quarterback Derek Carr’s hands would give Carolina the best possible chance of victory despite their obvious secondary concerns. If Jacobs is allowed space to do damage, then it is going to be a difficult proposition to overcome.