Raiders vs. Ravens: Predicting a winner in NFL Monday Night opener

By Anthony Galaviz

For the past two years, season openers have been kind to the Las Vegas Raiders.

Who's led the charge? None other than Josh Jacobs, the Pro Bowl running back now entering his third season.

Last season, Jacobs had 25 carries for 93 yards and three touchdowns in the Raiders' 34-30 road victory over the Carolina Panthers.

In 2019, Jacobs finished with 23 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-16 win over the visiting Denver Broncos.

The Raiders built a 21-6 lead in that game two years ago courtesy of Jacobs' 4-yard run in the fourth quarter.

But it wasn't just Jacobs who starred. The Raiders recorded three sacks.

Can he and his Las Vegas teammates continue their run of season-opening success to kick off the 2021 NFL season? It will be tough against a Baltimore Ravens defense led by end Calais Campbell.

The key as always in any running back's success is the offensive line, with center Andre James and rookie tackle Alex Leatherwood in the spotlight for the Raiders. Guard Richie Incognito is nursing a shin injury and is questionable for the Monday Night Football game.

And not only does Jacobs need key blocks to create open running lanes, quarterback Derek Carr must have time to find his receivers and star tight end Darren Waller.

Who is going to come up big this time?

Could it be someone on the defensive side? There are new faces over there, including Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson, Casey Hayward Jr., Denzel Perryman and K.J. Wright, as the defense tries to bounce back from an uneven 2020 performance.

The matchup and the pick

Kickoff: 5:15 p.m. PDT Monday at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas

Records: Raiders 0-0; Ravens 0-0

Line: Ravens minus-4

Anthony Galaviz's prediction: Raiders 27, Ravens 24

Analysis: The schedule makers are not doing the Raiders any favors by bringing in the Ravens, then sending Las Vegas on the road to Pittsburgh the following week. At least the opener is set for Allegiant Stadium — in front of fans on their year-old home field for the first time in the regular season. ... The Raiders didn't fare well in front of their empty seats in 2020, going 2-6 at Allegiant in the COVID-19-restricted campaign. ... But expect Las Vegas to be pumped to play in front of Raider Nation. ... We wrestled with this prediction, but the belief here is that the Raiders will feed off that energy and not only cover the spread but win outright.


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