The Las Vegas Raiders will open their season against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football. It's time to continue our NFL odds series and make a Ravens Raiders prediction and pick based on Ravens Raiders odds.
The Raiders come into this game as one of the most confusing teams in football. General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden consistently made puzzling moves throughout the offseason, so it's time to see if those moves paid off in a contest against one of the best teams in the AFC.
Baltimore has been a strong playoff contender for the last three seasons. This could be the year that head coach John Harbaugh puts it all together, and that run begins on Monday night. This should be an exciting contest, so let's get into the pick.
Here's how the bookmakers have set the lines for Monday's game.
NFL Odds: Ravens-Raiders Odds
Baltimore Ravens -4 (-112)
Las Vegas Raiders +4 (-108)
Over 50 1/2 points (-110)
Under 50 1/2 points (-110)
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Why The Ravens Could Cover The Spread
Baltimore has owned one of the most prolific rushing attacks in the NFL ever since quarterback Lamar Jackson came into the league, and that won't change this season. The Ravens averaged 5.5 yards per carry last season, and they face a Vegas defense that was ranked in the bottom 10 in the league in rushing yards allowed per game in 2020. Baltimore's running backs have been decimated by injury, but that's not a cause for concern. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman's scheme and Lamar Jackson are the key pieces of the run game, so backup runner Ty'Son Williams should be able to fill in capably in this one. The Ravens also brought in Le'Veon Bell and Latavius Murray to help with depth.
The Raiders had the identity of a hard-nosed, power running team last season, but that will probably be forced to change in 2021. Last season's starting offensive line was almost completely dismantled, with three new starters coming in. Center Andre James and right guard Denzelle Goode have been in the NFL for some time now, with neither giving any reason to believe they can play at a starting level. Rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood will have his hands completely full against edge rusher Justin Houston in this game, so it's fair to expect a rough first NFL start from him. To make matters even worse for Las Vegas, starting left guard Richie Incognito won't play in this contest because of a calf injury. Baltimore should dominate the line of scrimmage on defense, which often leads to wins.
Why The Raiders Could Cover The Spread
Jon Gruden certainly made some questionable decisions in the offseason, but to his credit, this Raiders defense did improve over the last couple of months. The secondary is a sneakily promising unit after signing cornerback Casey Hayward, as fellow starting corner Trayvon Mullen wasn't as bad as people think in 2020. Rookie safety Tre'von Moehrig is a great addition to the back end, and 2020 first-round pick Damon Arnette is still back there. The signings of Yannick Ngakoue and Quinton Jefferson bolstered the defensive line, and KJ Wright came in to drastically improve a poor linebacker group. This squad won't sniff the top 10 in terms of total defense, but they will be better than a lot of people think.
The Raiders also have the advantage of playing at home in this game. Las Vegas was clearly more comfortable on offense when playing at home, earning their second-best first-down percentage when playing in Allegiant Stadium. The Raiders allowed fewer sacks on their home turf, resulting in Derek Carr's passer rating at home sitting at 102.4. All the Raiders' previous home games were played without fans, so the presence of an actual home crowd should make things even better for Vegas.
Final Ravens-Raiders Prediction & Pick
The Ravens should be able to overcome their injured roster in this one and cover. Lamar Jackson will be nearly impossible to contain for this Raiders defense, and it'll be hard for Las Vegas to produce consistent offense in this contest. Baltimore should dominate the time-of-possession battle and win this game by a touchdown or more.
FINAL PICK: Baltimore Ravens -4 (-112)