RAVENS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Lamar Jackson was the league MVP two seasons ago. He missed the start of training camp after a positive COVID-19 test, and injuries to the backfield have put even more pressure on him now.
RAIDERS PLAYER TO WATCH: TE Darren Waller has emerged as a star after being claimed by the Raiders off Baltimore’s practice squad in 2018. Waller has had back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons for the Raiders, setting a franchise record with 107 catches in 2020 for 1,196 yards.
KEY MATCHUP: Raiders RT Alex Leatherwood vs. Ravens edge rushers Justin Houston and Odafe Oweh. The Raiders drafted Leatherwood 17th overall and will need him to get up to form quickly for the passing game to excel. He could be dealing with veteran Houston and fellow first-rounder Odafe Oweh.
KEY INJURIES: The Ravens will be without their top two RBs to injuries with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards both out with season-ending knee injuries. CB Marcus Peters also went down for the year with a knee injury this week. … Baltimore is also without rookie WR Rashod Bateman, a first-round draft pick who has been out with groin problems. … The Raiders will be missing LG Richie Incognito with a calf injury. … Las Vegas starting LB Nicholas Morrow (foot) and third-down back Jalen Richard got hurt during training camp and are on IR.
SERIES NOTES: The Ravens won the past two meetings in 2017 and ’18. … Raiders QB Derek Carr threw a combined seven TD passes in back-to-back wins in 2015-16. … Baltimore will be making its first trip to Las Vegas. The Ravens are 3-2 on the road against the Raiders, including a win in the 2000 AFC title game.
STATS AND STUFF: The Ravens have won five straight season openers, outscoring opponents 177-26 in those games. … Baltimore is 30-7 in the regular season with QB Lamar Jackson as the starter. … The Ravens ranked No. 1 in the NFL last season in rushing and dead last in passing. … The Raiders will be playing their first regular-season game with fans in Las Vegas. They went 2-6 last year at home, matching the most home losses in a season in franchise history. … Carr is making his eighth straight season-opening start. Carr set career highs last season in yards (4,103) and passer rating (101.4). … The Raiders brought in coordinator Gus Bradley to fix a defense that allowed at least 30 points in a league-high 23 of 48 games the past three seasons, and a league-worst 28.4 points per game overall.
FANTASY TIP: The Raiders raised some eyebrows when they signed RB Kenyan Drake to a two-year, $11 million contract in free agency. Despite that move, Josh Jacobs remains the workhorse back and should get the bulk of the carries even if his impact in the passing game is reduced.
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