The Las Vegas Raiders will open up their season Monday night at home against the Baltimore Ravens in what appears to be a big-time mismatch.
Can the Raiders take advantage of their home-field advantage at Allegiant Stadium and pull off the upset? Here, we preview this Raiders vs Ravens Week 1 outing.
Raiders vs Ravens: What you need to know
- The Raiders host Baltimore at Allegiant Stadium on Monday, September 13 at 8:15 PM EST on ESPN.
- Sportsnaut says the Baltimore Ravens will beat the Las Vegas Raiders, 34-20.
- Odds: The Ravens are 3.5-point favorites with the over/under set at 50.5.
Derek Carr vs Lamar Jackson
It’s pretty astonishing that Derek Carr is entering his eighth season as the Raiders’ starting quarterback. Despite team-wide struggles and Las Vegas’ flirtation with other quarterbacks, he will be under center Week 1.
A former NFL MVP, Lamar Jackson will also be under center when his Ravens open the season. The 24-year-old quarterback has awed to the tune of 87 total touchdowns against just 28 interceptions in three seasons.
- Last hurrah for Derek Carr? Over the course of the past three years, Jon Gruden and Co. have flirted with other options. At every turn, the Raiders have decided that Carr is their best option. Coming off an ugly eight-win campaign, this could be the quarterback’s final opportunity to prove his worth to the Raiders’ brass.
- Easy pickings for Lamar: What better way to start the season than going up against a Raiders defense that averaged nearly 30 points per game last season? This is the very same unit that yielded a 95.8 passer rating. Jackson should have a field day in Vegas come Monday night.
Advantage: Baltimore Ravens
Josh Jacobs vs Baltimore Ravens run defense
Entering his third season, Jackson is going to be key to the Raiders’ success. If he’s able to improve after a down 2020 season, it will enable Las Vegas to play ball-control ball on offense and keep their defense off the field.
For Baltimore, it’s all about the continued reliance on star defensive tackle Brandon Williams and others. Obviously, winning the time of possession battle and keeping Lamar Jackson on the field is going to be key.
- Josh Jacobs looking to take that next step: Over the course of his first two NFL seasons, Jacobs has tallied north of 2,600 yards with 19 touchdowns. He dealt with myriad injuries a season ago, which is something Vegas can’t afford.
- Dominating Ravens flock: Last season saw Baltimore’s defense finish in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed and yards per carry. It also finished in the top five in rushing touchdowns allowed. If this unit can maintain that level of brilliance against the Raiders come Monday evening, it should lead to a blowout Baltimore win.
Advantage: Las Vegas Raiders
Baltimore Ravens offensive line vs Las Vegas Raiders defensive line
Baltimore moved off Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr. in a trade with the division-rival Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason. While it has stud left tackle Ronnie Stanley returning from injury, there’s still some concerns here.
As for Las Vegas, Mike Mayock and Co. did whatever they could to improve one of the worst defensive lines in football. The Raiders will have their work cut out for them in Week 1.
- Lamar Jackson’s dual-threat ability: Jackson just became the first quarterback in NFL history with two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons on the ground. A lot of that was by design. The question now becomes whether this will be the case with Alejandro Villanueva replacing Brown and Kevin Zeitler manning right guard in 2021. If not, it could cause some issues for Baltimore on offense in 2021.
- Retooled Raiders defensive line: After giving up nearly 30 points per game last season, the Raiders knew that they needed to improve their defensive line. Enter into the equation former Pro Bowlers Yannick Ngakoue and Gerald McCoy. This will be a huge initial test for a Raiders defense that yielded a whopping 4.6 yards per rush in 2020.
Advantage: Baltimore Ravens
Bottom line: On paper, this Raiders vs Ravens matchup should be considered lopsided. But that’s just on paper. Vegas will have home-field advantage here as it hosts fans for the first time since moving to the desert metropolis. That could play a difference. However, we’re taking the road team to open its season victorious.