The Las Vegas Raiders host the Baltimore Ravens in the first Monday Night Football game of the 2021 season (Game Preview: Raiders play host to Ravens for Monday Night Football). The Ravens are currently listed as a four-point favorite at most online sportsbooks. Let’s do a deep dive into each team’s offense and defense to see who may have the edge in tonight’s matchup.
Ravens Offense vs. Raiders Defense
The Ravens’ backfield was decimated by injuries the entire preseason. Running backs JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards both suffered torn ACL injuries and are out for the offseason. Nevertheless, the Ravens’ offense still has one of the most dynamic players in the league in Lamar Jackson. Look for Jackson to pass the ball more often since the backfield is so thin.
The Raiders’ defense was terrible in 2020 as they ranked 30th in the league in points per game allowed (29.9). However, head coach Jon Gruden spent five draft picks on defensive players to hopefully spark some improvement. It’ll be interesting to see which Raiders linebacker will spy on Jackson to try to limit his running ability.
Raiders Offense vs. Ravens Defense
Veteran QB Derek Carr returns for his eighth season as the Raiders’ starter. Carr has plenty of weapons to throw to in Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards, Hunter Renfrow, and Darren Waller. Expect Gruden to try and establish the run more often in this game, especially since he drafted tackle Alex Leatherwood in the first round a few months ago.
The Raiders also brought in Kenyan Drake to give starting running back Josh Jacobs a breather from time to time. Drake will also be good to use on third downs with little screen passes and draw plays.
The Ravens’ defense should be stout as usual this season. This unit ranked 2nd in the NFL in points allowed in 2020 and there’s no reason to envision them slowing down in 2021. New linebacker Odafe Oweh, a first-round draft pick out of Penn State, could make this defense even better this year.
Look for pass rushers Pernell McPhee and Derek Wolfe to come hard off the edge with different blitzing techniques. This could spell disaster for Carr and the Raiders’ offense in the way of turnovers. Marlon Humphrey is one of the best corners in the league so Carr better be careful when throwing in his direction.
The Pick: Las Vegas Raiders +4
The Baltimore Ravens are the much better football team but we are siding with the Las Vegas Raiders in this spot. Allegiant Stadium will be packed and rocking since it’s the first time fans will be allowed in the stands. Gruden knows he needs a good start to the season so he’ll have his team fired up and focused for this home opener!
Underdogs tend to perform well on the big Monday night stage so we look for the Raiders to keep this game close the entire way. Take the points in this one. Good luck!