MNF football preview and pick for Ravens at Raiders
Every team in the NFL has to go through some injury difficulty at one time or another during a season. But what the Baltimore Ravens have endured during training camp is more than a bit unusual.
BetAnySports customers who have followed this team in the preseason have witnessed the spate of injuries in the backfield. So they go into the regular season thin at running back as they visit the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on Monday Night Football (8:30 PM ET).
The Ravens have an offensive coordinator named Greg Roman who is a big advocate of the ground game. In San Francisco he designed an offense - on the fly - to accommodate Colin Kaepernick. And he was also able to do the same for Lamar Jackson when he took over in mid-stream as a rookie for the rather immobile Joe Flacco.
The next year, Jackson won the MVP award.
Roman supports what Jackson does with a group of running backs, and that group lost Mark Ingram in the off-season. They did not draft a back, and now they have lost Gus Edwards and JK Dobbins to torn ACL's and Justice Hill to an Achilles injury.
They have now had to make some quick moves. And it may be a while before these people are ready.
The Raiders may have bigger problems; not necessarily with regard to guys getting hurt but in holes created in the lineup that may not have been filled. How much patience owner Mark Davis is going to have with either head coach Jon Gruden or QB Derek Carr or both remains to be seen.
Let's take a look at the Monday Night Football betting odds at BetAnySports, which show the Ravens laying points on the road:
Baltimore Ravens -4
Las Vegas Raiders +4
Over 50.5 points -110
Under 50.5 points -110
The question about what to do about their running backs is something John Harbaugh is going to have to wrestle with in the early going, at least until they get people like Le'Veon Bell integrated into the rotation.
And there is no guarantee that Bell is going to be that big a contributor. There is very little question that sitting out a season hurt his career; it may be true that Adam Gase did not know how to utilize his talents with the Jets, but when he was playing, he wasn't all that effective. And it is no secret that Bell was unhappy about his tenure with the Kansas City Chiefs, as he explained that he would not play one more minute for Andy Reid.
And it goes without saying that he was not in demand in the off-season. Bell has recently been taken off the practice squad, where he could have been claimed by anybody.
Davonta Freeman, the former Atlanta star, was also brought aboard, as was former Panther Trenton Cannon. Latavius Murray, who was recently let go by New Orleans, has been signed as well and maybe the primary back before long.
None of these players have practiced all that much with the team.
All that having been said, for this particular game, it is altogether possible that Jackson's efforts alone might be able to suffice for a ground game. The Raiders have been that inept on the defensive side of the ball.
Las Vegas was not all that stout against the run last year, allowing 4.6 yards per carry. And the Silver and Black surrendered the third most points in the NFL in 2020.
Jackson does not have first-round draft pick Rashod Bateman at his disposal (groin injury), and the Ravens are thin at wide receiver too (Marquise Brown is just recovering from a hamstring).The Raiders let three offensive linemen go (Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown) and it may take a while to get some chemistry going. Baltimore is the better side, but our instinct points us toward the UNDER.
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