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Baltimore Ravens vs. Las Vegas Raiders
BAL -4 (-110) — September 8
Are the Raiders going to get some love in their first game in Las Vegas with fans in the crowd? Absolutely, particularly in the MNF opener. I’ll admit the Raiders have some trends in their favor — 4-1 ATS in their last Week 1 games and 6-1 ATS in their last seven on MNF.
However, those trends are nothing compared to how strong the Ravens have started season and performed on the road under John Harbaugh. Over Baltimore’s last four season openers, they’ve won by an average of over 36 points per game! In 2020 they smashed the Browns 38-6. In 2019 they embarrassed the Dolphins 59-10. In 2018 they buried the Bills 47-3. And in 2017, they had a modest 20-0 win over the Bengals by their standards. Bottom line is that this team will come prepared.
A lot will be made of the recent injuries to Baltimore’s backfield, but I don’t see it as something that should hold it back in this game. The Ravens still have a great runner in Gus Edwards, and Lamar Jackson will always be the most lethal weapon on the ground. Las Vegas ranked just 23rd in rushing yards allowed last season. On the other side, the Raiders offensive line took a big step back in 2021, and Baltimore finished sixth in rushing yards allowed in 2020.
That Baltimore defensive front should also be able to take care of Las Vegas up front when it comes to the pass rush. Outside of Darren Waller, the Raiders are lacking pass-catchers, so the Ravens should have a sizable advantage in the secondary. In the end, I feel the Ravens just need a solid start in this one, then the running game should take care of the rest.
From a historical standpoint, this is a pretty good spot for Baltimore. Outside of the Week 1 success, the Ravens have covered 22 of their last 34 road games under Harbaugh, and are 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine as a single-digit road favorite. Baltimore has won 12 of the last 15 head-to-head with Vegas, going 11-4 ATS.
In terms of momentum, the Ravens ended last season going 7-1 ATS, including covering their last six regular season games. The Raiders won just two of their last seven games in 2020, going 1-5 ATS down the stretch.
I like Baltimore to continue the trend of strong starts and win this one by at least a touchdown.
I’m just getting my spread play out early here, and will loop back as the game gets closer to potentially add a couple of props.
Update on September 13: I initially locked in this wager on the Ravens back on Wednesday, prior to Gus Edwards and Marcus Peters going down. While this was only a 1-unit play, I’m going to hedge out here for a half a unit and just make this a small play. Still riding with Baltimore, but the Ravens are in a tougher spot than they were when I wrote this up.
Lamar Jackson OVER 72.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
While I felt for J.K. Dobbins personally when his season ended with a torn ACL in preseason, I thought it’d have almost no impact on Baltimore’s offense in 2021. Gus Edwards would assume the lead duties and Justice Hill is an exciting young RB. In almost no time, both of those backs are also out for the season, and the Ravens are scrambling to sign names that were last fantasy relevant five years ago. Maybe some combination of Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray and Devonta Freeman can help the Ravens at some point this season, but we can’t expect much from any of them that do even play in this game on Monday.
Ty’Son Williams will be the featured back for Baltimore, which is probably too much to ask of him. Who’s the Ravens’ best ball carries? Jackson, probably by a wide margin. We should see a lot of volume from Lamar in this one, which I think gets him over his rushing prop. The void at RB should be felt most early in the season before things start to level off. I also lean to Jackson going O11.5 carries and as an anytime touchdown scorer.
Darren Waller First Touchdown Scorer (+1000)
It’s obviously becoming tougher to back the Ravens in this game, I think the Raiders’ ability to start fast in front of this crowd at home is a reason why. On top of the exciting first game with fans in Las Vegas, Jon Gruden has always been tremendous at scripting his first drive. Without many playmakers at WR, and some question marks at RB, getting the go-to-guy in this offense at 10:1 feels pretty strong. This is just a small sprinkle. A 0.1-unit play to win a unit would be a good win.
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