Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas will host its first regular-season game with fans in attendance as Week 1 concludes with the first “Monday Night Football” game of the season. Jon Gruden enters Year 4 of his massive contract looking to make the playoffs for the first time in his second stint with the Raiders. The Ravens are 25-7 in Lamar Jackson’s two full seasons as the starter, but that success has not translated to the playoffs.
Three VSiN NFL experts give their thoughts on how to bet the game.
Youmans: Will a new-look Las Vegas defense be able to contain Jackson? It’s possible. The Ravens are at far less than full strength on offense after a rash of injuries, and they had the NFL’s worst passing offense (171.2 yards per game) last season. Even if the Raiders’ defense breaks down, Derek Carr can trade shots in a shootout. Carr put the team in position to sweep the Chiefs last season, passing for six touchdowns and leading the way to 71 points in a split of the two games with the AFC champs. Finally, after a year with no fans inside Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders will get to experience a true home-field advantage. It will be an electric atmosphere and most signs point to the home ’dog hanging close and maybe pulling the upset.
Pick: Raiders +4.5.
Tuley: I bet Las Vegas early because I really felt the public would drive this number much lower. Maybe that rush of money will come in the hype leading up to “MNF,” but if there’s any game that could be affected by home-field advantage in Week 1, it’s this one. I’m certainly not suggesting the Ravens will be intimidated, but the Raiders have enough weapons to match the Ravens score for score as I see this being decided by a field goal either way.
Pick: Raiders +4.5.
Brown: If it wasn’t at all obvious, the entire Ravens offense will center on Jackson in 2021. Even before key losses to the entirety of their running back room, the Ravens’ knew their best option was opening up Jackson through the air. Now that it’s been forced upon them, Jackson to showcase his arm is setting up as one of the best bets all weekend.
The Raiders may not provide much in the way of resistance with their secondary ranked as the third-worst unit in our coverage grades last season. If they do, it will be because Casey Hayward Jr. returned to his 2019 form, when he ranked sixth among cornerbacks in PFF coverage grade. The bad news for the Raiders is Hayward will be chasing Marquise Brown as a decoy downfield, which should open up underneath for Mark Andrews and Sammy Watkins to shine. Jackson may be able to dip-and-dunk his way over this modest total, which is the second lowest passing yardage prop listed for Week 1. Oftentimes the bottom of the ranges make for the best targets, especially when all the recent information is pointing toward the bottom end improving.
Pick: Lamar Jackson over 202.5 passing yards.