Monday Night Football Predictions Week 1: Baltimore at Las Vegas
The first Monday Night Football game of 2021 will feature the Las Vegas Raiders hosting the Baltimore Ravens. Last year was the inaugural season for the Raiders in Vegas, and brand-new Allegiant Stadium was empty because of COVID-19 precautions.
This will be the first time that there will be more than 60,000 fans jammed into the state-of-the-art facility, and they will be plenty fired up. The Ravens are going to walk into an electric, hostile environment, and this should give the Raiders an edge from the start.
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The Raiders ranked 30th out of 32 teams in scoring defense a year ago, and they were equally bad against the pass and the run. General manager Mike Mayock didn’t like what he saw, and he made significant changes.
Gus Bradley made a name for himself as the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks from 2009-2012 when the “Legion of Boom” secondary terrorized opposing offenses. He has been lured to Las Vegas to take over their defense.
Mayock signed free agent defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to a two-year, $23 million contract, and he added former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and a number of others.
They are going to have to contend with Lamar Jackson, who will lead a potent rushing attack, but last year the Ravens were dead last in passing. Jackson was exposed in the playoffs, and Bradley has undoubtedly watched a lot of film while he was developing his game plan.
Monday Night Home Dog
There are some powerful angles at play in this game, and some of them are rare. How often does a city that has been starving for professional sports for decades get to welcome 60,000+ fans into a sparkling new stadium for the first time to watch a Monday Night Football game?
That is an unusual level of excitement, coupled with an intense relief of pent-up energy. When you add in the fact that it is the season opener, and Raiders fans are what they are, you are looking at a super-strong home-field advantage.
In spite of this dynamic, the Ravens are -3.5 at the FanDuel sportsbook and the total is 50.5.
Yes, the Ravens won 11 games last year, and they led the AFC in fewest points allowed. They have a good defense, and nobody will be surprised if they win the game and cover the spread.
However, I’ll take 3.5 points under these circumstances, and that’s not the only bet that I like. The last four Ravens games in 2020 went under the total, and the under is 6-1 in their last seven road games. They like to run the ball, and that keeps the clock moving.
Conversely, the last five Raiders games went over the total last year, but they had a very different defensive roster. And of course, they didn’t have Gus Bradley running their defense.
I’ll take my chances on the under in this game, and I don’t play parlays, so I’ll be making two straight bets.
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