Ravens (-4.5) at Raiders (Monday Night Football)
Although the Ravens have established themselves as a run-first team under Greg Roman’s direction, there might be a change of plans for Monday night’s game against the Raiders. Baltimore had already lost their starting RB J.K. Dobbins to an ACL injury earlier this offseason, and his presumptive replacement, Gus Edwards, went down with his ACL injury during Thursday’s practice. This could certainly be seen as an early test of their commitment to the ground game, but it could just as easily be a test of their perimeter additions.
First-round pick Rashod Bateman has a lot of hype entering the season after an impressive offseason, and veteran Sammy Watkins was one of the more underrated pickups of this past free agency period. Watkins was 54th in Receiving Points Earned among wideouts in 2020 (11.9), which is respectable for a complementary receiving option, especially when you consider he had to fight Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce for targets.
Meanwhile, the Raiders’ corner situation is in a bit of disarray. With Damon Arnette reportedly in the doghouse and Nevin Lawson serving a suspension to begin the season, the Raiders have listed Casey Hayward, Trayvon Mullen, and rookie fifth-rounder Nate Hobbs as their starters, with Hobbs manning the slot.
As good as Hayward has been in the past, he just celebrated his 32nd birthday on Thursday and he ranked 77th in yards per coverage snap (1.3) last year among outside corners with at least 10 targets.
And while the Raiders beat is optimistic about Mullen entering his third season, his 2020 stats are a mixed bag. The 2019 second-round pick ranked 16th in yards/coverage snap (0.7), but just 72nd in Points Saved per 100 coverage snaps (1.6).
Hobbs, on the other hand, is entirely unproven and is getting thrown into the fire after ranking 196th in yards/cover snap (2.0) among corners with at least 10 targets vs. Power 5 competition in 2020.
This is an opportunity for 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson to play with his new toys, and for Greg Roman to showcase what renovations he’s made, if any, to a passing game that was very stale last year.