Around the AFC West: How the Chiefs rivals look after Week 1

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CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – SEPTEMBER 13: Henry Ruggs III #11 of the Las Vegas Raiders runs after a catch against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders opened up their 2020 season with a trip to the Carolina Panthers. Under new head coach Matt Rhule and with new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, there were many questions as to whether the Panthers could keep up with the Raiders. In his second year, running back Josh Jacobs was back to form putting up almost 100 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

The Carolina defense (which started three rookies), couldn’t stop the Raiders who scored on six of their first eight drives. The Panthers launched a late effort to try and win in the final moments, but the Raiders defense held firm and ended the game with a 34-30 victory. This marks the first franchise win for the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Raiders also started a couple rookie wide receivers in first round pick Henry Ruggs III and Bryan Edwards. Ruggs looked every bit the speedster he was billed to be and will be a problem for defenses, especially if he can develop chemistry with quarterback Derek Carr.

I still don’t believe Carr is a good quarterback, but with weapons around him, that team could be dangerous. Dangerous enough to challenge for the AFC West title? Doubtful, but dangerous nonetheless. Maybe we will finally see a competitive Chiefs-Raiders rivalry again?

The Raiders didn’t escape without injury as they lost Ruggs for a portion of the game. He seems to be fine but it will be something to watch. Because Ruggs is so reliant on speed, a knee injury could be problematic.

Additionally, the Raiders lost right tackles Trent Brown and Sam Young to injuries. No word on the severity of those yet, but also something to keep an eye on. We know Derek Carr gets rattled easily, so if he doesn’t have good protection, it doesn’t bode will for this season.

Finally the Raiders had a scare with linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski. There was concern that he had torn his pec, but an MRI revealed that was not the case. His timetable for return is still undetermined.

Next week, the Raiders host the New Orleans Saints in the opening of the new Allegiant Stadium. The Saints looked pretty good against the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers last week, but Drew Brees‘ favorite target, Michael Thomas, suffered a high ankle sprain that will be worth watching leading up to Monday night.

Will the Raiders open their stadium with a win or will the Saints play spoiler? Definitely an intriguing matchup, but I like the Saints in this one. Their defense played really well and if the Saints can get to Carr, it will be a long night for Gruden’s team.

Game time is 7:15 p.m. on Monday Night Football.

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