Baltimore Ravens vs. Las Vegas Raiders MNF Odds & Predictions
The Baltimore Ravens come to Allegiant Stadium for a Week one showdown with the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. For the Ravens, they look to take another step toward something massive, coming off two good seasons that ended disappointingly in the postseason. For the Raiders, they're looking to get there, following an underwhelming first three years of John Gruden's second stint with the team. The urgency will be high this season, and the Ravens should count on seeing a fired-up home Raiders squad on MNF.
Are the Raiders Due?
Perhaps Gruden has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Sure, there have been some iffy personnel moves, including some baffling draft picks. With a boatload of picks, you’d like to have seen them make more of a move. And sure, by now, Raiders’ fans would have expected they’d be contenders or at least on the road to that status. Still, it’s hard to quantify Gruden as a failure being that he has seen the team’s win totals rise the last two seasons.
They have actually managed to get off to good starts the last two seasons before somewhat flaming out down the stretch of the regular season. The offense needs the line to be up to the task for the offense to have teeth, and after an offseason purging of some key members up-front, a lot remains to be seen. They need a surge in Henry Ruggs and other pass-catchers to give them a real threat alongside TE Darren Waller. Kenyan Drake adds a nice dimension in the run game to go along with Joshua Jacobs (questionable). These guys might be needed against a Baltimore defense that has a lot of questions to answer upfront. But QB Derek Carr will be going against one of the stoutest and game-changing secondaries in the league with a cast of unproven ball-catchers.
More Matchup Problems for the Raiders
Led by Lamar Jackson, the Ravens’ offense looks to add more aerial umph to their approach this season, adding Sammy Watkins and first-rounder Rashod Bateman. But with Jackson, their leading rusher, and a slew of talented backs, they will wield the run-game in a big way against a Raiders' defensive front that has a lot of holes. Last season, they gave up gobs of yards and rarely disrupted the opposing quarterback, registering very few difference-making plays along the way. Granted, the Baltimore run-game had a setback with the loss of Dobbins, but they were controlling games on the ground before he was even on the team.
While Baltimore lost some juice with the departure of some talent along their defensive front, the Raiders’ offensive line has a lot of moving pieces heading into the new season. Not that great last year and primed for a possible step back, it doesn't bode well for a team so reliant on the run game, along with having burner receivers who need time to get open. Baltimore features solid corner play, not just in terms of giving up very little but also in making young receivers make mistakes, some of which can be game-changing. A lot of this comes down to whether the Ravens can find new stars among their edge rush group.
With Ronnie Stanley coming back at left tackle for the Ravens and the signing of G Kevin Zeitler, the Baltimore O-line could be better. Massive guard Ben Cleveland (questionable) should be a contributor, as well. Even if their D-line isn’t what it once was, the Ravens appear to be a better team in the trenches overall. With Carr, the Raiders might have a bit more overall aerial flair, but the Ravens strike the image of a more physical and more complete team. Whereas they have concerns, the Raiders have downright liabilities—a defensive front-seven devoid of difference-makers, a secondary that hasn't lived up to its potential, and some high draft picks on offense that have yet to see their potential manifest in a meaningful way.
Ravens vs. Raiders Prediction 9/13/21
While 4 may seem a little high on the surface, it makes sense. True, the Raiders are at home in the beginning of a crucial season with a lot on the line. It’s just that with the deficiencies they face along both lines of scrimmage, I see what they’re trying to do not sticking as well this week as it might in others. Defensively, I see them having a hard time stopping a fresh Ravens’ offense, while the Ravens’ offense should encounter less resistance. In the end, I think that shakes out to a better than 5-point win in week one. I’ll take the Ravens.