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Raiders vs. Panthers key matchup: newly competent Raider defense vs. Cam Newton

The Raiders had their best defensive effort of the year last week against the Chiefs. Can they extend that effort to Carolina?

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Last week the Raiders were dominant on defense against a very bad team, but this week they will have to continue their ways against a team playing much better of late, the Carolina Panthers. Step one of that process will be finding a way to slow down star QB Cam Newton, who has been playing at a very high level for the past two weeks after a disappointing start to the year.

Newton has thrown for 518 yards and rushed for 123 in the last two weeks, with five touchdowns and no turnovers. He appears to have regained the form that made him a rookie sensation last season. That's bad news for the Raiders, who typically struggle when faced with great quarterback play. Their secondary remains spotty and injury-prone while their pass rush has yet to establish any consistency this year. This game will likely come down to how well the Raiders can take away Newton's running ability and force him into low-percentage throws.

The Panthers have a good rushing game outside of Newton, but they usually win or lose depending on how well Newton plays. The linebackers will be key in this game, and if they can get in Newton's face and stop him from making any of his usual long, game-altering rushes, the game will be more easily won for Oakland.