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Raiders vs. Ravens: 5 things to know

Keys to Monday night’s Week 1 matchup

Divisional Round - Baltimore Ravens v Buffalo Bills
Lamar Jackson
Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders open the 2021 regular season at Allegiant Stadium against the strong Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.

It’s a stern test for the new-look Raiders even though the Ravens are dealing with major injuries.

.Let’s look at five keys to victory for Las Vegas in the game:

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos
Latavius Murray
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Make the Ravens run:

The Ravens have been depleted at running back. They have lost J.K. Dobbins, Justice Hill, and now, Gus Edwards, to major injuries. The Ravens still love to run, so they will probably have the same game plan. We could see a lot of former Raiders’ tailback Latavius Murray and fellow veteran Devonta Freeman, who both signed this week. This is a huge opportunity to set the tone defensively.

Don’t let Lamar go crazy:
That’s easier said than done when it comes to Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, of course. But with injuries at running back and wide receiver, the importance of Jackson being the focal point of the Ravens’ offense (and the Raiders’ defense) is even greater. Jackson can take over games. The Raiders’ defense have allowed great players to do that on a regular basis in recent seasons. Keeping Jackson from slicing and dicing this defense is a huge task for new Las Vegas defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Seattle Seahawks v Las Vegas Raiders
Alex Leatherwood
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Block well:
Offensively, the Raiders’ success starts on their reworked offensive line. This unit, with new starters Andre James (center) rookie Alex Leatherwood (right tackle) and Denzelle Good (right guard) must show its up to the challenge early against a strong, tough Baltimore defensive front. If this unit lives up to the expectations of Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden, general manager Mike Mayock and offensive line coach Tom Cable, it could spark a Las Vegas upset (the Raiders are 4.5 point underdogs). If not, it could be a tough night.

Seattle Seahawks v Las Vegas Raiders
Kenyan Drake
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Establish the run:
Gruden’s teams always have their best success on offense when they run the ball well as it sets up Derek Carr and the passing game. Fully expect the Raiders to test the Ravens’ cornerbacks with Marcus Peters injured. This could be a huge key.

On the ground, the Raiders must extend drives and eat clock with Josh Jacobs, Kenyan Drake and Peyton Barber stuffing the ball down the Ravens’ throats. It won’t be easy, of course. The Ravens had the sixth best run in the NFL in 2020, allowing just 101.3 yards a game. If the Raiders can grind yards on the ground, it may be a formula to a Week 1 victory.

Get crowd into game early:
It’s going to be an emotional game for the franchise and its fans. This will be the first regular season game with fans at Allegiant Stadium and the fans are going to be fired up. The Raiders have to parlay that emotion with strong early play. The Raiders can feed off the fans and start fast it set the tone for the game. A fast Las Vegas start is also important considering that the Ravens have been Week 1 monsters lately. They have outscored their Week 1 opponents by a total of 164-19 in the past four years. The Raiders can’t let the Ravens get rolling early.