Panthers vs. Raiders: Prediction, what could happen and best bets

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
2 of 6
Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /

Carolina Panthers vs. Raiders: What might happen

Given that this is Week 1 and there were no preseason games for either side to build chemistry, it would not be a surprise to see some sluggish play early on. This will be especially evident with the Carolina Panthers for the simple fact this group has yet to play a competitive down together.

Things will pick up quickly, but conditioning is also going to be a factor that shouldn’t be overlooked. They did have an extended training camp to get themselves up to speed. But there is no substitute for getting on the gridiron and it is going to leave some players gasping for air as the contest progresses.

It would be a huge surprise if the Las Vegas Raiders didn’t try to take advantage of the obvious cornerback concerns in Carolina. The matchup between Donte Jackson and first-round pick Henry Ruggs III is going to be must-watch. But the Panthers will also need to keep a close eye on the likes of Hunter Renfrow and Bryan Edwards with a unit that has little in the way of experience.

Another real danger is tight end Darren Waller, who might see plenty of second-rounder Jeremy Chinn in coverage. The Panthers need to keep things tight during the first few drives and take some pressure off their offense, who have the capability to score at will.

Offensive coordinator Joe Brady will undoubtedly use Christian McCaffrey heavily, at least initially. If the All-Pro can generate success then the Panthers can open up their passing game as Las Vegas focuses even more attention on preventing the running back from doing damage.

This is a gem that could come down to one big play here or there. But there is simply no telling just what to expect from Carolina until we see them on the field.