Ravens vs Raiders Preview & Free Pick [September 13th 2021]

Baltimore (0-0) at Las Vegas (0-0)
When: Monday, September 13th, 2021
Where: Allegiant Stadium,
Paradise, NV
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Baltimore -6.5/51

Week 1 of the NFL season concludes with a Monday Night Football showdown in the desert. The Las Vegas Raiders are set to host their first game with fans at shiny new Allegiant Stadium just off The Strip in Paradise, Nv. The Baltimore Ravens will be the first team to play in front of fans in Vegas and are 4-point favorites as of Sunday morning with a total set at 50.5. The Ravens finished 11-5 a season ago before losing at Buffalo in the Divisional Round, while Las Vegas went an even 8-8 and missed the playoffs once again. The Raiders’ franchise has made the playoffs just once since losing to Tampa Bay in the 2002 Super Bowl.

Baltimore is already being hit by the injury bug, losing starting running back J.K. Dobbins (knee) and backup Justice Hill (Achilles) to injuries during fall camp. On Thursday, the Ravens had to cut practice short when new starting running back Gus Edwards as well as cornerback Marcus Peters both sustained what appeared to be significant knee injuries. The Ravens will turn to 2020 undrafted free agent running back Ty’Son Edwards to make his NFL debut with Trenton Cannon as the backup. Latavius Murray was signed to add depth during Monday’s game, while Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman were signed to the practice squad.

The Ravens are 5-0 and have outscored their opponents 177-26 in their past five season openers, while Las Vegas is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 openers and 6-1 ATS in their last seven Monday games. Despite defeating the New Orleans Saints 34-24 last year in their Monday night home opener, the Raiders finished just 2-6 on their home turf. In the last 15 meetings between these teams, Baltimore is 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS.

Baltimore’s Top-10 offense was led by the running game, which has already taken a hit before Week 1. No team averaged more carries per game than the Ravens last season, and no team came within 30 yards of Baltimore’s 192.1 rushing yards per game. Former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson led the team in both passing and rushing in 2020–21, throwing for 2,757 yards and adding 1,005 on the ground. With the running back situation unsettled, it puts even more pressure on Jackson. The Ravens had one of the best defenses in 2020, allowing just 18.9 points a game and just 221 passing yards per contest. Baltimore plays three of their first four games on the road, but will host Kansas City next week.

The Raiders brought in Gus Bradley to rebuild a defense that allowed 29.9 points per game and produced just 15 takeaways in 2020. Among the notable defensive newcomers are defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebackers K.J. Wright and Denzel Perryman and cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. Jon Gruden will enter his fourth season in his second stint with the Raiders and is 19-29 so far. Derek Carr returns as the starting quarterback and his supporting cast includes Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, and Henry Rugs III. Jacobs rushed for 1,065 yards last season while Waller had 107 catches for 1,196 yards and nine touchdowns, leading all tight ends in receptions. Carr is 4-2 in his career on Monday nights.

This should be a fun atmosphere in Vegas on Monday night with fans finally filling the new stadium. Baltimore has done well in recent season openers, but so have the Raiders. Remember they beat the Saints last year as sizeable underdogs. I trust this Raiders offense to keep things close and possibly pulling off the upset. The key injuries should be a concern for Baltimore.

Pick: Raiders +4
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