Ravens-Raiders best bets: What to play for Monday Night Football
Let's be honest, we're all betting on this game. The football withdrawals following the first full weekend of the season are real, and we're going to watch Monday's lone showdown as a result.
Here are our best bets for Ravens-Raiders:
Ravens over 27.5 points
This may be a controversial play after Baltimore's offense was decimated by injuries in recent weeks. Still, in Lamar Jackson's final five healthy games of 2020, this offense averaged 37.2 points and 430.4 yards per game, including 267.4 yards on the ground.
Even a cast of Ty'Son Williams, Latavius Murray, and friends should find success against a Raiders unit that ranked 28th in defensive DVOA and rush defense DVOA a year ago. Las Vegas replaced six starters from that group but face a stiff opening test against Ravens coordinator Greg Roman's always-dangerous run scheme.
- C Jackson Cowart
Are you kidding me with this total? Jon Gruden wants to run the football like it's 1950 and the Ravens are going to do the same regardless of whether anyone's healthy. It's going to be a game of old school football between a pair of run-first teams, and when they drop back to pass it might not be pretty - Baltimore's running thin at wide receiver following a brutal month for injuries, and Las Vegas is breaking in a new offensive line.
The Raiders' line will be tested against a blitz-happy Ravens front, but I expect Las Vegas’ revamped defense to be better under new coordinator Gus Bradley. Baltimore's defense lost Marcus Peters amid the rash of summer injuries, but this is still a really talented and well-coached group.
The Baltimore defense typically starts fast, too. Over the last four seasons, the Ravens have allowed just 19 total points in Week 1. They've outscored teams 164-19 in those games, but with the injuries, I'm less bullish about that unit starting strong. We might not even see 40 points here.
- Alex Moretto
Every year there's a top team that just has everything go wrong. If you're looking for early signs of "it's just not our year," it's hard to ignore the rash of injuries that have befallen the Ravens.
While the football world considers running back the most replaceable position on the field, at some point losing your entire room for the season before Week 1 has to matter- especially for a run-first squad. Three running backs later and the line hasn't budged.
Potentially more concerning for the Ravens are the injuries on the defensive side of the ball. With Peters out for the year and veteran corner Jimmy Smith questionable, life might be a little easier for Derek Carr here. Say what you want about the Raiders' roster construction and consistently scrutinized drafts, but Gruden does a good job putting Carr in a position to move the ball.
The Raiders couldn't have had more time to prepare for what Lamar Jackson does best; Bradley, their new defensive coordinator, was with the Chargers in 2018 when they confounded Jackson in the playoffs.
With top weapon Darren Waller giving the linebackers fits, and a raucous environment to help the rebuilt defense, I expect the home underdogs to find themselves ahead at halftime. Then it's up to Jackson to lead the Ravens back, and while he may be capable, I'll take the four points for a game that should have us in an advantageous position late.
- Matt Russell