As the nation heads into an unprecedented election - one held during a pandemic and amid fears that the sitting president is scheming to remain in office regardless of the results - the presidential candidates have a lot to gain - and a lot to lose - by appearing victorious at the debates.
Donald Trump will almost certainly play to his base during the debates, and his base will almost certainly assert that he is the victor of those debates, regardless of his performance.
While Mr Biden has a stalwart base of support that will likely proclaim him the victor no matter how he performs, he is also representing a large number of Democrats - and moderate Republicans - who did not support him during the primaries.
For Mr Biden to appear victorious and energize voters who are wary of his record or spurned by Mr Trump's leadership and rhetoric, he will have to do more than simply make the case that he is not Mr Trump.
Dr Mitchell McKinney, professor of political communication and director of the Political Communication Institute at the University of Missouri, said Mr Biden will likely appeal to a few key demographics during his debate performance.
"The whole convention was about appealing to the moderate Republicans and other wavering types who could be pulled off. Biden has in mind the segment of the Obama coalition that wavered and wilted when it came to the Clinton vote," he said. "Biden knows he's got to win those votes back and appeal to their concerns - African American and Hispanic voters - and particularly the working class constituency that wavers between Republicans and Democrats in the Rust Belt. I fully expect Biden will be appealing to them."
Luckily for Mr Biden, he has a bit of an advantage going into his first debate with Mr Trump - one that the president himself handed to him.
For weeks, Mr Trump has attacked Mr Biden's mental acuity, suggesting that his mental capacity is slipping and even going so far as to allege that Mr Biden took drugs during his primary debate with Senator Bernie Sanders to enhance his performance.
"I think there’s probably – possibly – drugs involved. That’s what I hear. I mean, there’s possibly drugs. I don’t know how you can go from being so bad where you can’t even get out a sentence – I mean, you saw some of those debates with the large number of people on the stage," Mr Trump said during an interview. "He was - mean, I used to say, 'how is it possible that he can even go forward?'"
Dr McKinney believes the president's attacks may have lowered the expectations for Mr Biden heading into the debate, making it easier for the former vice president to appear sharp and commanding should he have even a decent performance.
"The Trump folks and Trump himself have reminded us over and over that Biden can't string two sentences together, that he wont make it through the 90 minute debate, accusing him of drug use. That violates the fundamental rule of setting expectations we normally, see, where the candidate lowers expectations for themselves and heightens them for his opponent. Trump has done the opposite," Dr McKinney said. "Trump always talks about how smart he is and how weak Biden is. The setting of expectations has caught the trump folks following the convention address that Biden gave, and now we have conspiracy theories claiming Biden must have been taking drugs, or the speech must have been pre-recorded, etc."
He said that in order to make use of those expectations, Mr Biden has to avoid making gaffes or blunders that will feed into that narrative. He believes based on Mr Biden's past primary debates that the former vice president is capable of doing so without issue.
Dr Todd Graham, the Director of Debate at Southern Illinois University, known by some as "America's Debate Coach," believes Mr Biden hasn't lost his mental faculties, but that he may have lost his ability to quickly make a point. He pointed to the former vice president's debate with Mr Sanders as proof that - when he has more time to answer - he can be a formidable debate opponent.
He said Mr Biden should stick to broad topics and manage his time wisely.
"He's lost a step in quickness, not intelligence. I would tell him to focus on big ideas and ignore the minutiae. He should focus more on generalities. If the question is about bussing or Black Lives Matter, then it's really about civil rights. So engage there rather than trying to focus in," Dr Graham said.
He also warned that Mr Biden's proposed strategy of fact checking Mr Trump on stage is actually a bad idea.
"Biden has said hes going to fact check Trump in real life. Oh my God no, don't to that. Studies indicate that if you fact check someone, the audience is more likely to have a backfire effect and believe your opponents' claim. If he actually tries to fact check in detail he'll spend the entire debate on defense," Dr Graham said.
Both debate experts agreed that Mr Biden's best pathway to victory lies in keeping himself cool when Mr Trump inevitably attempts to make him mad, and keep in mind that most people aren't watching because they're on the fence about a candidate, but because they want to confirm that their candidate is strong and capable of winning in November.
According to Dr McKinney, 92-95 per cent of debate watchers have already made up their mind on who they're voting for. Those voters are watching to determine whether or not their candidate is a capable leader.
"Voters tell us from their debate watching that they take away an image of the character and the type of leader candidates are or will be. These things go together. Biden talks about saving Obamacare and then works in that his young son was in the hospital and elder son died of cancer," Dr McKinney said. "That's where we get that idea that he projects empathy and the idea he'll be a caring, kind leader, etc. That's what they reveal for voters, their image, character, the kind of leaders they are."