The NFL season officially kicked off with the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeating the Dallas Cowboys. It featured a game that defied nearly all betting logic. Monday Night Football, Las Vegas Raiders versus Baltimore Ravens, could have some wild outcomes as well.Â
Raiders boat race the Ravens in the desert
Conventional wisdom and any football person with half a brain would tell you I’ve lost it. But, have I? Lamar Jackson is a bonafide superstar and the type of mobile quarterback that gives defenders nightmares. Nevertheless, Jackson’s not capable of outscoring the entire Raiders offense by himself.
The Ravens are missing every running back they carried on the roster, first-round draft pick Rashod Bateman, backup blocking tight end Nick Boyle, and Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters. Marquise ‘Hollywood‘ Brown is barely returning to practice after being hamstrung by a hamstring injury. As you can see, the Ravens’ offense has question marks.
Raiders’ X-factors are the linebackers
Finally, the athletes have come back to the Raiders linebacking corps. In all seriousness though, on paper, the Raiders have the best linebacking corps in years. This is a unit that could quite possibly blossom into the best in the division.
Cory Littleton, Denzel Perryman, and K.J. Wright are all capable of defending tight ends and running backs leaking out for passes. They can all shed blocks and stop the run as well. All of them possess the requisite speed and play-making ability to be a constant threat for turnovers. Those three will have the most important job on the field Monday night, slowing down both Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews and the former league MVP, Jackson.
Bryan Edwards will be T.O.-like
The Raiders enjoy a size advantage over nearly all of the Ravens’ defensive backs. Edwards has the size, speed, route running, and hands to be a monster at the X position. Additionally, Edwards has consistently shown an ability to high point the football over defenders as well as having strong hands. He figures to be billed as the fourth most dangerous receiver by the Ravens defensive coordinator. So, he will probably see their fourth or fifth-best defensive cover guy. If Edwards is as advertised, he should feast on the Ravens’ secondary.
*Top Photo:Â Ethan Miller/Getty Images