Two teams perpetually headed in different directions, the Baltimore Ravens take on the Las Vegas Raiders in the desert. This Monday Night Football season opener weighs heavily on both teams as their schedules rank amongst the hardest in the NFL. Based on win percentage from last year, Ravens’ 2021 opponents ranked second in the league. In terms of win totals from 2020, the Raiders’ 2021 opposition also came in second at 153. Only the Pittsburgh Steelers felt the wrath of the schedule gods more.
The coaching matchup features Jon Gruden, the only $100 million coach-man, vs. John Harbaugh, one of the most successful and longest-tenured coaches in the league. The Gruden-Harbaugh duel along with Lamar Jackson vs. Derek Carr, speaks to Baltimore’s -4.5 spread on Raider turf. That line courtesy of BetMGM, one of the top legal sports betting apps. At William Hill, the line is set at -4, while FanDuel has it at -5.
The balanced but mediocre Raider offense (23rd in rushing and passing) hope that John Brown and Kenyan Drake enliven Derek Carr and keep Josh Jacobs fresh. On the other hand, the Ravens’ run game looks as deadly as ever as they try to bolster the passing game.
Surrounding Jackson with a cadre of capable wide receivers started with the free-agent signings of Devin Duvernay, Mile Boykin, and Sammy Watkins. They also tacked on a couple more WRs with two top draft choices. We will see if former Baltimore edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue gets revenge on his former team.
Laying 4.5 points on the road seems onerous. But then again, Lamar Jackson tends to destroy average teams and the Raiders look just that. New Las Vegas defensive coordinator, Gus Bradley will have his hands full trying to contain the Baltimore run game. Conversely, Derek Carr could be seeing ghosts going up against one of the premier secondaries in all of football.
That sounds like a combination for a low-scoring game, especially considering it is early in the season when defenses are often ahead of offenses. The O/U sits at 51.5 currently tied for the second highest number of the week behind only Seahawks vs. Colts and Browns vs. Chiefs. The moneyline is -250 if you’re feeling like the Ravens get the win one way or another.