Our first “Monday Night Football” matchup of the 2021 NFL season is sure to be an entertaining one. Lamar Jackson and his Baltimore Ravens travel to Sin City to take on Derek Carr and the Las Vegas Raiders. This game is special because it will be the first true Raiders home game with fans in the stands. It should be an electric atmosphere.
Jackson will be missing several key players on offense in Week 1 — including his top three running backs. J.K. Dobbins tore his ACL in the preseason, Justice Hill tore his Achilles in practice and then Gus Edwards tore his ACL this past Thursday. This certainly opens up the door for a Raiders upset.
The Ravens lead the all-time series, 8-3, and have won the past two meetings. Below, we will break down this matchup from a gambling perspective, and examine line movement, the Over/Under and player props to consider. First, here’s how you can watch Monday night’s matchup.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
Las Vegas Raiders
This line opened at Ravens -5.5 on May 12, but fell all the way to Ravens -4 hours later. It remained there until Aug. 31, when it was bumped up half a point to Ravens -4.5. On Thursday, it fell back to Ravens -4 — the same day Edwards and cornerback Marcus Peters tore their ACLs.
The pick: Raiders +4. I made this game a “best bet” in my weekly column. Earlier this week, I wrote about 17 reasons why this season could be one of the best NFL seasons of all-time. No. 3 on that list was fans in Sin City. COVID-19 derailed the the Raiders’ inaugural season there, but the passion that city possesses for sports has not gone away. If the NHL‘s Las Vegas Knights were any indication, then the Raiders could end up having one of the best home-field advantages this season — and that will be proven on Monday night. Additionally, I’m confident in the underdog since Baltimore has lost its top three running backs, a starting cornerback and have two of their top four wideouts on IR.
This total opened at 52 on May 12, but fell to 51 the following day. It received a slight bump to 51.5 on May 26, but fell back to 51 this past Thursday and then hit an all-time low of 50.5 on Friday.
The pick: Under 50.5. My lean is to the Under in this matchup. The Ravens are still going to run the ball even though their backs haven’t been in the system very long, and their defense is still talented even without Peters. The script for this one seems unpredictable when it comes to total points scored.
Lamar Jackson player props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over +110, Under -140)
Passing yards: 210.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Passing attempts: 27.5 (Over -110, Under -120)
Passing completions: 18.5 (Over -125, Under -105)
Longest passing completion: 33.5 (Over -110, Under -120)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over +140, Under -170)
Rushing attempts: 11.5 (Over -120, Under -110)
Rushing yards: 68.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Jackson threw at least two touchdowns in nine of 15 games last season, and with his top three running backs out, this could be a nice play at +110. Even if he throws two touchdowns, that doesn’t mean he will hit the Over on his passing yards. Last year, Jackson threw three touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals with just 113 yards. Many will be focused on Jackson’s rushing props Monday night. He only crossed 69 rushing yards six times in 15 games last year, and while he’s probably more prone to scramble with his running backs out, his O/U on rushing yards may be best to avoid.
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Derek Carr props
Passing touchdowns: 1.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Passing yards: 255.5 (Over -115, Under -115)
Passing attempts: 33.5 (Over -110, Under -120)
Passing completions: 22.5 (Over -135, Under +105)
Longest passing completion: 37.5 (Over -110, Under -120)
Interceptions: 0.5 (Over +130, Under -160)
My lean is to the Over on Carr’s touchdown passes since he threw at least two in 10 of 16 matchups last season. Carr averaged 256.4 passing yards per game last season, but that doesn’t guarantee the Over on yards will hit on Monday night. I like a play on the Under 33.5 passing attempts as well.
Josh Jacobs rushing yards: Over 50.5 (-110). The Raiders added Kenyan Drake this offseason, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Jacobs’ role in the offense is going to decrease. He surpassed 50 yards rushing in 11 of 15 games last year. The line seems too low for me to pass up.
Mark Andrews receptions: Over 4.5 (-145). With questions at running back and two wide receivers on IR, you know Jackson is going to put his faith in Andrews when it comes to the passing game. He caught at least five passes in seven out of 14 games last season, and I expect he surpasses this number on Monday night.
Daniel Carlson made extra points: Over 2.5 (+120). I’m a big fan of this play. This is virtually betting that the Raiders will score at least three touchdowns, and hopefully Carlson will make all his extra points. The O/U for Raiders touchdowns is 2.5 (-115), so you can double up with that bet if you’re confident in Vegas.