Kickoff: 8:15 p.m., Allegiant Stadium
TV: ESPN & ABC, WMAR Channel 2 (Baltimore), WJLA Ch. 7 (Washington); ESPN crew Steve Levy (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst), Louis Riddick (analyst), Lisa Salters (sideline)
Radio: WBAL 1090 AM & 98 Rock 97.9 FM, Ravens crew Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Femi Ayanbadejo (analyst); Westwood One Sports, Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Kurt Warner (analyst); WDCN La Nueva 87.7 Spanish radio broadcast, on the Ravens app, Gustavo Salazar (play-by-play), Ximena Lugo-Latorre (color commentator)
The Ravens are seeking their fourth straight playoff season and want to begin with a strong performance on Monday Night Football. Head Coach John Harbaugh has an impressive 10-3 record in season openers, including five straight wins. During that streak, Baltimore has outscored its opponents, 177-26.
Baltimore leads the Raiders, 8-3, in the all-time series. Their last meeting was in 2018 when the Ravens prevailed, 34-17, at M&T Bank Stadium. Lamar Jackson was 14 for 25 for 178 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions, and he also ran for 71 yards. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr completed 16 of 34 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown.
Can the Ravens overcome their injuries?
This is a storyline for the entire season. A devastating stretch of injuries has resulted in Marcus Peters, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, L.J. Fort and Justice Hill being lost for the season. Nick Boyle, Rashod Bateman and Miles Boykin are starting the season on the injured list, while starting defensive end Derek Wolfe (back/hip) is out for Week 1. The Ravens' depth and resolve is being tested, but a road victory over the Raiders would be an uplifting way to start the 2021 campaign.
How will the Ravens handle the Vegas atmosphere?
Opening night. Vegas. Monday Night Football. This will be the first regular-season game with fans at Allegiant Stadium, and the joint will be jumping. The Ravens have been a terrific road team the past few years, but this will be a new experience for some of their younger players and the crowd noise will make communication on offense more difficult. Staying poised and avoiding pre-snap penalties will be key.
Who will run the football most for the Ravens?
Ty'Son Williams is expected to be the lead running back in his first NFL game. Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman, Le'Veon Bell and Trenton Cannon were all signed recently, but have practiced with the team for less than a week. It's an unusual situation, but the Raiders also have to worry about the running ability of Lamar Jackson, the only quarterback in league history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Matchups to Watch
Lamar Jackson vs. Raiders defense
Jackson's performance in this game figures to be pivotal. He has thrown the ball better than ever during training camp, but Jackson played just one series during the preseason and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown missed significant time during camp. Jackson has been brilliant in his two previous regular-season openers - eight touchdown passes, no interceptions, while completing 37 of 45 throws. If Jackson starts another season that hot, the Ravens will be difficult to beat.
Ravens pass defense vs. Darren Waller
A former Raven, Waller is one of the NFL's best tight ends and a difficult matchup for every team. Veteran defensive back Jimmy Smith (ankle) is questionable, and if he can't play, Waller becomes an even more difficult assignment for the Ravens. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale could throw a variety of looks at the Raiders, hoping to throw off the timing between Waller and Carr. Keeping the ball out of Waller's hands on third down and in the red zone will be key.
Ravens pass rush vs. Derek Carr
After so much talk about Baltimore's pass rush during the offseason, we finally get to see it unveiled. This will be the Ravens debut for veteran pass rusher Justin Houston, as well as rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh, a first-round pick with loads of athletic ability. Veteran Calais Campbell has looked ready for the season since Day 1 of camp, and he needs eight sacks this season to reach 100 for his career. Third-year linebacker Jaylon Ferguson secured his roster spot with a strong finish to training camp and hopes to have his best season. Carr has hurt the Ravens in the past, with a 2-1 record against them while throwing eight touchdown passes and just one interception. The more pressure the Ravens can put on Carr, the better their chances.