Now that the Ravens have lost their young star running back JK Dobbins to a season-ending torn ACL, Baltimore will have to rely on the run game of QB Lamar Jackson and RBs Gus Edwards and Justice Hill while counting on some key receptions from WR Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown.
The front office of the Las Vegas Raiders used this offseason to beef up their front-line depth including rookie RT Alex Leatherwood, hoping the extra protection will better protect QB Derek Carr so he can get the ball to Henry Ruggs, Hunter Renfrow, and TE Darren Waller.
These two AFC franchises have met each other 12 other times (including 1 postseason game), with the Las Vegas Raiders winning just 3 of those games and the Baltimore Ravens winning the other 9 games.
One of the main reasons most NFL franchises refuse to play their stars in the preseason is what happened to the Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear to his knee in August against the Washington Football Team.
Now the Ravens, who last season boasted the number one rushing attack in the league after averaging almost 192 yards on the ground per game all season, must figure out how to keep their run game a primary part of their offense.
They will do that with RB Gus Edwards, who averaged 5 yards per carry on 144 attempts last season for 6 touchdowns along with 9 receptions for almost 130 more yards, and they will do that with the legs of QB Lamar Jackson, who last season ran the ball 159 times for over 1,000 yards and 7 touchdowns himself.
Last season, the Raiders offense was a top-ten scoring operation, averaging just over 27 points per game with a passing attack (ranked 7th) that was slightly better than their run game (ranked 14th).
But in Week 1, Las Vegas faces a Baltimore defense run by coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale that was seventh-best in the league last season and, despite losing some key talent in the offseason, could still be a top-ten squad in 2021.
The Raiders have a run game that features Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, a one-two punch that could help them in the red zone, plus Las Vegas has one of the sneakier slot receivers in the league, Hunter Renfrow, who will take full advantage of the mid-field space that deep threat WR Henry Ruggs seems to create.
The entire football world knows about the potency of the Ravens rushing attack, but now they are set to have an equally threatening passing game with the addition of star veteran receiver Sammy Watkins in the offseason.
Watkins has spent the last three season catching passes from Patrick Mahomes with the Chiefs and earned a Super Bowl ring with Andy Reid’s team in 2019, so he brings a veteran star presence to the Ravens’ locker room on a Ravens team that ranked last in the league in passing in 2020.
Now Watkins has been kept out of the preseason due to an undisclosed injury and appears to be on track for a Week 1 start, a speedy threat that QB Lamar Jackson is counting on.
Arguably one of the best tight ends in the league now is Darren Waller, a 6’ 6” 255 beast of a player who can block almost as well as he can catch the football, a five-year veteran who gives the Raiders a legitimate mid-range threat on every down.
Last season, Waller was a huge contributor on offense, posting 107 catches for almost 1,200 yards and 9 touchdowns while helping the Raiders front line open rushing holes for RB Josh Jacobs, a production that keeps defenses having to game plan differently every week.
What having a threat like Waller on the roster also does for the other receivers is draw double teams from the linebackers and safeties which allows extra room for the other Raiders receivers to run, something that could help in Week 1 against this speedy Ravens secondary.
|Ravens vs Raiders Information|
|What||Baltimore Ravens vs Las Vegas Raiders|
|Where||Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada|
|When||Monday, September 13, 2021; 8:15 PM ET|
|How to watch||ESPN, ABC|
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