The Ravens head to Las Vegas to take on Jon Gruden’s Raiders on Monday Night Football. The Russell Street Report staff gives our bold predictions as to what we’ll see here…
The Ravens have won five straight openers by the combined score of 177-26! So it’s safe to say that John Harbaugh’s teams are ready to play to start the season. Such will be the case again tonight in Las Vegas.
Look for the Ravens to do the expected to start the game by establishing the run and throwing to the flats with some waggles, swing passes and bubble screens. The end-game will be to widen the Raiders defense so that they can then attack the seams with crossers and seam-routes from Mark Andrews.
On the other side of the ball I look for the Ravens front-7 to dominate an offensive front of the Raiders that hasn’t had a lot of time to gel as a unit. It will put Derek Carr in too many third-and-long situations and that spells trouble against an opportunistic Wink Martindale defense. Some projections:
- Lamar throws 3 touchdown passes for 270+ yards with no interceptions
- Tonight’s leading receiver will be Sammy Watkins who registers 85 yards on 6 grabs including a TD
- Ty’Son Williams racks up 80 yards and a score
- The Ravens sack Carr five times, 2 courtesy of rookie Odafe Oweh
- Justin Madubuike and Calais Campbell own the interior line of scrimmage. Each gets a sack.
- Marcus Peters’ sub Anthony Averett gets an INT
- Justin Tucker hits 3 FG’s, one from 55 yards out to end the first half
- The Ravens keep Darren Waller out of the end zone
- Former Raven Willie Snead snags 2 balls for 11 yards and a score
- Former Raven Yannick Ngakoue makes 2 tackles, 1 for a sack
Final Score: Ravens 37, Raiders 23
If you haven’t heard already, the Ravens running back room has been, well, run over. The team jumped into reaction mood quickly, signing a trio of established veterans in Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, along with young special-teamer Trenton Cannon. It will be interesting to see how the team attempts to generate offense, and how dedicated to the pass game they might become. A few predictions:
The Ravens will run, because the Ravens run. It’s their offense, and a big chunk of the success of this run game has been due to pre-snap motion, straight-line running and the ball-handling and make-defenders-quake speed of Lamar Jackson. Yes, the Ravens will miss their lead backs. But, also yes, the team will run — to the tune of more than 170 yards on the ground.
How will the new-look pass rush look? I don’t think it will have a big production night, as Raiders quarterback Derek Carr does get rid of the ball fairly quickly. But I do see the Ravens batting two passes at the line, and picking off another ball deflected off a defender underneath the route.
Justin Madubuike will make a splash in primetime, generating a sack and two tackles for loss.
We know what you’re here for: Lamar Jackson. Well, I see Jackson throwing for 235 yards and two touchdowns (to Mark Andrews and Sammy Watkins), and a 40-plus yard gain to Marquise Brown to set up another score. He’ll also run for 65 yards and a touchdown.
Ravens 33 Raiders 20
The Ravens’ defense has a track record of picking on rookies, regardless of position. In this case, I think Vegas’ rookie Right Tackle Alex Leatherwood gets victimized all game long. As a result, Derek Carr is sacked 5 times and turns the ball over at least twice. A stout defense holds the Raiders under 80 rushing yards on the day. Lamar cracks 250 passing yards and registers three passing touchdowns.
Ravens 30 Raiders 13
Second-year running back Ty’Son Williams leads the Ravens backfield with 18 carries for 75 yards and a touchdown, followed by 10 carries for Jackson for 70 yards and a touchdown scamper of his own. Let’s also throw in another 50 yards combined between Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman.
That’s right. I don’t see Le’Veon Bell being called up in this one.
The Ravens total 210 yards on the ground (checks math… give Pat Ricard 5 and Holly 10 on a sweep) with a pair of touchdowns and you wouldn’t even know this offense skipped a beat.
As for the passing game, Lamar won’t need to throw a ton, but he’s successful in doing so when he does. Let’s go with 15 for 22, 180 yards and a touchdown to newly extended Tight End, Mark Andrews.
Defensively, the Ravens pass rush has it’s way with the Raiders O-Line. Justin Houston gets his first sack as a Raven, Odafe Oweh gets his first NFL career sack, and we’ll give a half sack to Tyus Bowser and McPhee because I’m a nice guy like that.
Alas, it’s not all roses for the Ravens, as Darren Waller will have his way with the defense to the tune of 80 yards and a touchdown… but limiting the Raiders rushing attack to just 50 total yards, and keeping Henry Ruggs in check will keep the Raiders off the board for long chunks of the game, as the Ravens come away victorious.
Ravens 31 Raiders 17
This total (50.5) seems high to me. With the injuries the Ravens have on offense coupled with what should be an incredibly strong defense, I love the under play here in Vegas.
From a spread perspective, as much as I’ve tried to look for ways the Raiders cover, I just can’t find any. I like to play the “look-ahead” card with big games on the horizon, which the Ravens have next Sunday against the Chiefs, but this team is too well coached for me to truly factor that in, especially in Week 1.
The Ravens defense should be smothering and Derek Carr will help out by making a few mistakes to give the Ravens good field position. Lamar Jackson won’t be overpowering in Week 1, but he’ll do enough to guide the Ravens to an opening night victory.
Baltimore is 7-1 ATS in their last eight games. The Raiders are 1-5 ATS in their last six games.
My Pick: Baltimore -4
Ravens 24 Raiders 13
— Ty’son Williams makes his case emphatically, going for 120 yards on 16 carries and finding paydirt. He adds 30 yards on four receptions, and is more than adequate in pass pro.
— Lamar throws for 225 yards and three touchdowns, one each to Hollywood, Mark Andrews, and Josh Oliver. He adds 75 yards and a TD on the ground while not turning the ball over.
— Calais Campbell, Tyus Bowser, and Tavon Young all sack Derek Carr once. Odafe Oweh gets him twice in his first NFL action.
— Marlon Humphrey and Chuck Clark intercept Carr.
— Since 2011, the Ravens are 7-3 in openers, including wins in five straight. The scores of those five? : 13-7, 20-0, 47-3, 59-10, 38-6. That’s an average margin of victory of 30 points, and an average of 42 over the last three games. When Harbs has time to prepare, especially against an inferior opponent, he is lethal. Tomorrow will continue the trend.
Ravens 41 Raiders 13
The Ravens are faced with adversity right before the season even starts. These injuries came at a bad time but I think they are at positions they can absorb them. The secondary is loaded and with a Lamar-led offense an average running back can be a star.
— Lamar will pass for two touchdowns and rush for one. He will have 225 passing yards and 75 rushing yards.
— Ty’son Williams will ease the concerns of the losses of Edwards and Dobbins. He will have one rushing touchdown with 85 rushing yards.
— Sammy Watkins and Mark Andrews will be the recipients of the passing touchdowns.
— Justin Madubuike will have the Ravens’ first sack of the night.
— Anthony Averett will get his first career interception.
— Calais Campbell will force a fumble.
Ravens 34 Raiders 13
Lots of storylines and fun things to track in this game. Raiders guard Richie Incognito is out and center Rodney Hudson was traded over the offseason. With Derek Wolfe out, one of the matchups I’ll be watching is Justin Madubuike vs. the young and inexperienced Las Vegas offensive line. Also on defense, Patrick Queen struggled in pass coverage as a rookie and he’ll have his hands full in this one to open year two with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow roaming the middle of the field. On offense, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the running back work is split up and how Ty’Son Williams responds to the opportunity. With that being said…
Lamar Jackson throws for over 200 yards and three touchdowns against a defense that was seventh-worst against the pass last season.
Williams finishes with 15 carries and ends the night with 75 yards and a touchdown. A nice and even five yards per attempt.
Madubuike racks up two sacks against a young interior offensive line to get his defensive player of the year campaign started.
The loss of Marcus Peters is somewhat weathered after Anthony Averett collects his first career interception with Derek Carr avoiding Marlon Humphrey’s side of the field as much as he can.
The under hits and Ravens cover…
Ravens 28 Raiders 20
Playing the first game with fans in Vegas was never going to be an easy task, but the number of heartbreaking injuries that Baltimore has going into Week 1 will make it even tougher. While Ty’Son Williams has proven his talent, there’s no question that he will be a drop-off from the original backfield of JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Still, we will get an answer to whether or not any running back can succeed in a Lamar-driven offense. Williams proves that true, going for over 75 yards and a score.
Lamar Jackson may be facing more pressure than ever going into this year, not only as fans and media members expect him to progress further in the playoffs, but as the team needs him to step up with so many players down. I believe his work ethic and passion for the game has prepared him well. Jackson will be efficient (albeit without too many yards) and poised, taking care of the football and converting in the Red Zone.
Defensively, a major question mark heading out of the offseason will be the pass rush, which has a lot of new names. In this game, against a poor Raiders O-Line, the Ravens will get pressure. Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh will both notch sacks in their Ravens debuts, while others generate enough pressure consistently to force Derek Carr into some bad decisions. One such throw is picked off by DeShon Elliott late.
Ravens 27 Raiders 17