With injuries taking out a chunk of their running back group, the Baltimore Ravens will rely more on former MVP Lamar Jackson to get them back to the postseason. A threat in the AFC, the Ravens may have taken a hit in the NFL futures markets and the spread for their Monday Night Football opener with the Las Vegas Raiders has tumbled.
But Jackson is a transcendent player with the ability to make things happen and he’ll have a chance to prove he’s still a top player in the league against a Vegas defense that showed a lot of holes last year.
The Week 1 NFL game between the Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders will take place at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas at 8:15 p.m. ET on Monday, September 13 and will be televised on ESPN.
Baltimore Ravens vs Las Vegas Raiders Odds
Baltimore Ravens -4 | Las Vegas Raiders +4 [BET NOW]
Baltimore Ravens vs Las Vegas Raiders Money Line
Baltimore Ravens -200 | Las Vegas Raiders +170 [BET NOW]
Baltimore Ravens vs Las Vegas Raiders Over/Under
Over/Under: 50 [BET NOW]
Despite a rash of injuries the Ravens are still a road favorite, though the number has tumbled since hitting the board over the summer at Baltimore -5.5. The Raiders got some buy back dropping the spread and news of season-enders to prominent Baltimore players had the home team getting more action forcing the line down to Baltimore -4. The total has remained constant at 50 and that number won’t change much with money evenly spread. The Raiders cashed the OVER in their final five games last season and the teams have exceeded the total in each of the last five meetings with Baltimore going 2-0 SU and ATS in the last two.
I can’t recall any team getting decimated by injuries before taking a regular season snap more than the Ravens. Three running backs have been shelved for the year including starter J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill. Dobbins had a wonderful rookie season with 805 rushing yards and a team-best nine touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes. And Edwards totaled 723 yards and six scores on the ground as the Ravens led the NFL in rushing for a second straight season.
I guess you have to start somewhere and Ty’Son Williams is expected to start on Monday night. Maybe it’s another Kurt Warner moment, at least that’s what John Harbaugh is hoping. You may remember Warner was thrust into the starting job for the St. Louis Rams years ago due to an injury. All he did was win the MVP. The Ravens already have an MVP in Jackson, and he takes on a bigger role now. Not that his contributions were small. Jackson led the team in rushing the previous two seasons and the Ravens boasted the best ground game in the entire NFL.
Not only will the offense have to overcome the loss of several players, the defense has some issues now, too. Marcus Peters and L.J. Fort are both done, impacting the secondary and depth at linebacker. But the group has always been strong under Harbaugh and I don’t anticipate that changing.
Las Vegas Raiders
It’s hard to imagine Jon Gruden being on the hot seat since he was hand-picked and courted by Mark Davis then given an outrageous contract. But here we are, three years into Gruden’s second stint with the club and the Raiders are looking for their first playoff berth. On the positive side there has been progress. They went from four wins in his first season to seven and then to eight last season. And while the offense has gotten better in those years the defense has been a liability.
Derek Carr is back running the show and if anything he’s been consistent. He was actually very good last year throwing for 4,103 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 67.3 percent of his passes. He tossed just nine interceptions and directed five game-winning drives. We could see more of the same with a diverse group of pass-catchers and a running game featuring Josh Jacobs and new addition Kenyon Drake.
What has to change for the Raiders to have a realistic chance of breaking a four-year playoff drought is the play of the defense. They lost five of their final seven games last year giving up at least 30 points in five of those games while allowing an average of 33.9 points. With a strong track record as a coordinator, Gus Bradley is now in charge of transforming the group.
Ravens vs Raiders Prediction
Our picks: Las Vegas Raiders +4 / OVER 50
If anything good has come from the Ravens injury situation it’s that they have time to figure out a course of action. And I don’t expect the offense to take a step back with Jackson still in charge. He can run and has worked on becoming a better passer. And he gets a compliant opponent in
Week 1. Still, it will take time to figure things out, which is why I’m backing the home teams plus the points.
Check out all Week 1 NFL odds here.