The Ravens face the Las Vegas Raiders with a new depth of running backs and a starting cornerback for their Week 1 matchup.
Here's how they match up.
Passing Attack — The Ravens boosted their passing attack with the addition of veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins and a couple of selections in this year's draft — Rashod Bateman and Tylan Wallace. Bateman, however, recently underwent surgery on his groin and will miss at least the first three games of the regular season. Marquise Brown is fully healthy after missing several weeks of training camp and Mark Andrews is poised for another huge season. The Raiders ranked 26th against the pass last season, They drafted safety Trevon Moehrig in the second round and signed former Raven Yannick Ngakoue to boost the pass rush. The secondary is still vulnerable.
Rushing Attack — Baltimore lost running backs J.K. Dobbins (knee), Gus Edwards (knee), and Justice Hill (Achilles) to season-ending injuries. The Ravens now have five running backs who could play Monday against the Raiders — Ty’Son Williams, Trenton Cannon, Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell. The Raiders finished in the bottom third of key defensive categories last season: 25th in total defense (389.1 yards per game); 25th against the pass (263.3 ypg) and 24th against the run (125.8). As a result, the team boosted its defensive line by signing defensive tackles Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Darius Philon, and Gerald McCoy, a six-time Pro Bowler who has not played since 2019. With Jackson, the Ravens still have the edge.
Passing Offense — The loss of Marcus Peters is problematic for the Ravens because of his production. Anthony Averett will move into the starting role. The key for the Ravens is to keep the pressure on quarterback Derek Carr to prevent him from making plays to Darren Waller. Carr was effective last season, throwing for 4,103 yards with 27 touchdowns and nine interceptions (101.4 rating). Carr has gone 2-1 against the Ravens with 744 yards passing with eight touchdowns and one interception. Baltimore will have to find ways to contain if Jimmy Smith is unavailable with an ankle injury. The Raiders also signed slot receiver Willie Snead IV and former top Henry Ruggs III entering his second year. Baltimore added veteran linebacker Justin Houston, a four-time Pro Bowl defender who has recorded at least eight sacks in each of the past four seasons.
Rushing Defense — The Raiders ranked 14th in rushing last season. Josh Jacobs led the team with 1,065 yards. Las Vegas also signed former Arizona Cardinals starter Kenyan Drake, who will also get plenty of carries. The Ravens defensive line is stout with Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams, and Justin Madubuike, who will start for the injured Derek Wolfe. The Ravens ranked eighth in the NFL last season against the run and they could be even better this year.
Special Teams — Justin Tucker is one of the best kickers in NFL history and made 26 of 29 field-goal attempts last season. He remains one of the Ravens' most dangerous weapons. Sam Koch, entering his 16th season, ranked eighth in the league in net punting average in 2020. Long snapper Nick Moore will replace Morgan Cox as the long snapper. Devin Duvernay and James Prioche have excelled as returners. Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson made 33 of 35 field-goal attempts, including all four of his tries from 50 yards or beyond. Hunter Renfrow is solid as a punt returner, averaging 11.5 yards on 23 runbacks,
Prediction: The upstart Raiders will be playing with a lot of emotion with opening their new stadium on Monday night. It will be a raucous atmosphere but expect a large continent of Ravens fans to be in attendance. Las Vegas will play hard and keep the game close for a half, but the Ravens are still a better and deeper team despite the injuries.
Ravens 27, Raiders 15