Raiders vs Ravens
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media


Game Preview: Raiders vs Ravens – Week 1

Franchise Sports Media


The wait is finally over, we can rejoice in knowing that football is back. The possibilities have all of us excited for what the Las Vegas Raiders might do for the 2021-2022 season.


Raiders vs Ravens
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Although this is year two in Sin City, this will be the first year fans will be allowed to attend games to cheer on the Silver and Black in their new and marvelous Allegiant stadium. With a new venue, new city, the Raiders are hoping for a new chapter in their storied history that will see them back to their glory days when they were among the league’s elite teams. Raider Nation has been yearning for a team that consistently puts out a good showing and walks off the field with more wins than losses. That all starts with a Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens.

In year four of the Jon Gruden era, the pressure has been turned up for the Raiders to make strides and find themselves in postseason contention. The last couple of seasons have seen the team start strong only to falter down the stretch. However, with new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley at the helm, the defense, which has been the teams’ Achilles heel, is looking to turn things around and become a strength instead of a liability.

With new accusations via free agency and the draft on both sides of the ball, Gruden wants to have his quarterback Derek Carr lead this team into the end zone while Bradley has been tasked to keep the opposing team out of the end zone. It’s a tall task but let’s look at this match and see how things might play out on Monday Night football.


The key to this match-up will be can the Raiders new-look defense contain former MVP Lamar Jackson who is one of the game’s most electrifying players.


Raiders vs Ravens
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Newcomers such as defensive end Yannick Ngakoue were brought in to get after opposing QBs and bring stability and production from the trenches. They will be tested early, and often upfront as the Ravens are one of the NFL’s top rushing offenses. While Baltimore has made improvements in their passing attack, everything comes from their run game, so if the Raiders can manage to defeat the run and not get gashed for big gains time and time again, things can certainly take a turn and force Baltimore to rely more on passing which would allow for their new-look pass rush to attack and get after the QB.

Also on display will be a new-look secondary, hoping to show they can become the Legion of Boom 2.0, which brought fame and glory to the Seattle Seahawks defense under Bradley while he was their defensive coordinator. In Vegas, Bradley is looking to bring that production level with possible defensive rookie of the year candidate, safety Tre’von Moehrig who was drafted in the second round out of TCU. Moehrig was brought in to be a playmaker and provide turnovers for a secondary that has not seen many takeaways in the last few seasons. At the other safety position is third-year man Johnathan Abram, who will be deployed closer to the line of scrimmage to utilize his aggressive style of play to help with the run game and provide momentum-shifting hits along the way.

Looking to lock down opposing wide receivers will be cornerbacks Trayvon Mullen, who has shown promise and flashes of becoming a top-level cornerback and now looking to provide more consistency. Veteran Casey Hayward was brought in as a free agent due to his production and familiarity with Bradley’s scheme after playing for him in San Diego. The Raiders will look to second-year players such as Damon Arnette and Amik Robinson to provide a solid rotation and turn what has been a weakness for the team in seasons past now into a strength.


In the middle of this defense is the linebackers who will play vital roles in this particular match given Baltimore’s rushing attack.


Raiders vs Ravens
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Nick Kwiatkoski, Cory Littleton, and newcomer Denzel Perryman, who was also under Bradley in San Diego, will look to make strides from the group’s play last season and become a group of leaders instead of liabilities. In addition, the team brought in another one of Bradley’s former players in KJ Wright from Seattle. Wright is expected to provide depth, veteran leadership, and another option for a solid rotation since the team is down Nicholas Morrow and Javin White, who are starting the season on the IR. The Raiders also have rookie Divine Deablo from Virginia Tech. They hope the young duo can pick up the scheme early and provide some fresh energy and solid depth to a defense looking to gain some respect. The Raiders are looking to show the NFL they have made the necessary adjustments by addition and will be looking to wreak havoc on opposing offenses for the 2021 season.


Now while we will get a new-looking defense, what the Raiders are hoping to do is replicate their Top-10 offense from a season ago and continue to put points on the board.


Raiders vs Ravens
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

Led by Derek Carr, the Silver and Black have made strides and shown that they can score with any team in the league. Since Head Coach Jon Gruden returned in 2018, Carr has had his three highest completion percentages (68.9%, 70.4%, and 67.3%) and has thrown for 67 touchdowns to 27 interceptions. While Carr has been criticized by fans, coaches, and players not only in the organization but around the league, others see Carr as a top-tier talent and someone who has made the most out of the situations he’s been given during his time in the pros. Carr will be looking to push this team to new heights and get them back into postseason play with his accuracy, leadership, and now being in year four of the same offense.

He’ll be doing so with one of the best targets in the NFL to have in tight end, Darren Waller. Waller, who was brought into the team three seasons ago off the Baltimore practice squad, has quickly emerged as one of the league’s best at his position. Back-to-back 1000 yard seasons, 197 receptions, and 12 touchdowns, it’s clear Waller has not only found new life both on and off the field but is in the conversation for best TE in the NFL.

Looking to help in the passing attack will be second-year player Henry Ruggs who showed flashes last season of the speed and play-making abilities that made him a first-round choice out of Alabama. With a year under his belt, Ruggs will be looking to show improvements in his route running, beating the press at the line of scrimmage, and added strength. With the speed Ruggs possesses, getting him the ball in space and allowing him to make plays will be a focal point of the team’s offense.

While the passing attack will look to put yards up, this team can also beat you up on the ground with third-year running back Josh Jacobs, who has had back-to-back 1000 yard seasons. A powerful runner who has shown he can produce and help keep this a balanced attack, Jacobs, like Waller, has quickly shown during his short time with the team that he’s one of the top players at his position. Brought in to form a one-two punch was veteran Kenyan Drake, who had his best season as a professional last year in Arizona where had career highs in rushing attempts (239), yards (955), and touchdowns (10). Both Jacobs and Drake have shown they can be not only productive runners but also be reliable receivers out the backfield which can give Carr and this offense more options to take the pressure off Waller and Ruggs and keep defenses on their heels with who will the Raiders go with next in their attack?


Everything starts upfront on the offensive line for the Raiders and they will have some tough questions to answer early and often as this team which has been a top-tier OL over the last few seasons will have a new look to it.


Raiders vs Ravens
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

With three new starters and a returning veteran upfront to protect Carr, offensive coach Tom Cable is tasked with another tough scenario in getting the big boys up to speed. The one stable spot on the line is left tackle Kolton Miller, who has manned the position since coming into the league in 2018. At left guard, veteran Richie Incognito is 38 and coming off a season that saw him missed most of it due to injury. Can he bounce back and shown forms of his pro bowl level play once again?

In the middle at center is Andre James. James takes over for Rodney Hudson, one of the league’s best, so there are big shoes to fill for him. Next, Denzelle Good, who has made leaps and bounds during his time with the Raiders, really stepped up last season with the injuries the team dealt with. He will get a chance to solidify his spot as a full-time starter and show that last year wasn’t just a fluke season but his arrival as an NFL-caliber player. Finally, rookie Alex Leatherwood will be the team’s starting right tackle out of Alabama. Leatherwood will have a watchful eye on him all season, not just for being a rookie, but he was the team’s first-round selection (17th overall) in this past draft. The pick drew criticism from some as they felt there were other players the team could’ve went after and possibly get Leatherwood later in the draft. Nonetheless, he was their choice and will look to justify the pick and do his part in keeping this unit among the best in the NFL over the past few seasons.


Opening the season on the big stage on primetime tv to end week 1, can the Raiders stop the rushing attack of the Ravens?


Will the Raiders provide pressure on the quarterback and not allow him to sit comfortably in the pocket? Can the secondary maintain their coverage and make plays and provide turnovers? Pressure and turnovers go hand and hand for a defense, and the Raiders will be looking to improve on both. Will this offense be able to put up points in bunches against a stout defense? Will this be the year?

This will be yet another challenging year for the Raiders on all fronts. The first year with fans in attendance at their new, gorgeous home, Allegiant Stadium. The pressures of getting to the postseason, keeping up with a very tough division, getting young guys to step up early and often, having veterans show they still have something left in the tank, and showing that in year four of the Gruden era, this team is ready to get back to its old ways of, “Just Win Baby.”


Are you ready for some football Raider Nation? It will be a Monday night party at The Death Star and the coming-out party at the new capital for Raider Nation. We look forward to bringing you trusted, honest, unbiased coverage of the Raiders all season, right here at Franchise Sports Media.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media


Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

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