Five Reasons the Underdog Raiders Can Beat The Ravens on Monday Night

The NFL season is finally here and the schedule-makers didn’t do the Raiders any favors with their week one opponent.

The Ravens have won 5 straight season openers and have outscored opponents 177-26 in that stretch. Lamar Jackson, the Ravens fourth-year quarterback, already has a league MVP on his resume and has thrown 62 touchdowns while rushing for 2,211 yards over the last two years.

The Ravens defense is always solid, so what is there for Raider fans to feel good about going into Monday night’s opener?

Let’s sift through a few things the Raiders might have going for them this week…

Are teams figuring out how to defend Lamar Jackson?

Maybe not, but some seem to think so.

“That offense is easy to figure out with a good defense. They only have so many options,” an NFL executive recently told ESPN. “Crowd the box and give him a hard time and make him beat you throwing.”

The key words there being “good defense.”

For the past two decades, the Raiders haven’t enjoyed the luxury of having even an average defense. Can new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley finally break the trend?

When it comes to slowing down the Baltimore offense, maybe he can.

Gus Bradley’s defense shut down the Ravens in 2019 (the year Lamar Jackson was named league MVP).

Among the film that defensive coordinators will be reviewing on Jackson is the Chargers 2019 Wild Card game against the Ravens. Bradley’s defense overwhelmed the Baltimore ground attack in the game. The Ravens averaged under 4.0 yards per carry and Jackson completed under 50 percent of his passes.

The Raiders defense may not be as talented as the 2019 Chargers, but it was a lot about Bradley’s scheme that confounded the Ravens.

NFL on Twitter: “That Ravens run game: 💪Here’s how the @Chargers stopped it. (via @BaldyNFL)#FightForEachOther / Twitter”

That Ravens run game: 💪Here’s how the @Chargers stopped it. (via @BaldyNFL)#FightForEachOther

Home opener and a packed Allegiant Stadium should give the Raiders a boost.

In Gruden’s first year back with the team (remember that disastrous 2018 season?), the Raiders led the Super Bowl runner-up Rams in the season opener 13-10 at the half. The Raiders lost the lead on the final play of the third quarter before the game went into a death spiral in the fourth quarter.

In 2019, the Raiders jumped out to a 14-0 halftime lead over the Broncos before letting the game get interesting in the second half and eventually winning by only 8 points.

In 2020, the Raiders jumped out to another halftime lead and held on to beat the Panthers 34-30 on the road. The following week, the Raiders had another opener of sorts. In their first game at Allegiant Stadium, they beat Drew Brees and the Saints in what may have been their most impressive all-around performance of the year.

Takeaway from all this?

Allegiant Stadium is going to be rocking on Monday night and Gruden’s teams tend to start well. It’s the closing of games (and seasons for that matter) that Gruden hasn’t been able to figure out in the second half of his coaching career.

The Ravens will be missing their dynamic running back on Monday night.

The injury to running back J.K. Dobbins was a huge preseason loss for the Ravens. He was dynamic during the 5-game win streak that catapulted the Ravens into the playoffs last year. For the season, Dobbins averaged just over 6 yards per carry and he brought an element to the Baltimore offense that no one will be able to replicate.

Gus Edwards will assume the lead role in the Ravens backfield. He won’t be a treat to go up against, but he is certainly less dynamic than Dobbins.

The Ravens blitzed at a higher rate than anyone in the NFL last year… which might be a suboptimal game plan against Derek Carr.

The Ravens’ defense had trouble getting pressure on the quarterback when they rushed only four defenders last year. Their solution, of course, was to blitz regularly and they blitzed at a higher rate than anyone in the NFL in 2020.

Derek Carr has always been one of best quarterbacks in the league against the blitz.

Assuming the Raiders’ revamped offensive line can hold up, Carr could be in for a big day if the Ravens’ defense can’t generate a pass rush without blitzing.

twitter: @raidersbeat


1 thought on “Five Reasons the Underdog Raiders Can Beat The Ravens on Monday Night

  1. West Coast Dink’nDunk
    Just win baby! Get Ruggs the ball early, use the run game, use Third and Renfrow.

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