Las Vegas Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens: 3 things to watch for in Week 1
Production of Wide Receivers
Both the Raiders and the Ravens don’t have what many would call elite wide receivers. Both teams’ passing games go through their tight ends with Darren Waller of the Raiders being a top-three player at the position and Ravens tight end Mark Andrew’s not falling too far behind that.
The Raiders starting outside wide receivers are young, unproven, and both missed major time last season due to injuries. Both Jon Gruden and Derek Carr have been singing Bryan Edwards praises since last year’s training camp, and Carr has mentioned that Ruggs has come in this season noticeably bigger and more focused on what he needs to do to be successful.
After his disappointing rookie season, Ruggs said that he is his biggest critic, and he did have some big moments in 2020, including efforts against Kansas City and the New York Jets. Hunter “third and” Renfrow is once again back starting in the slot wide receiver position, and looks to continue the production and connection with Carr he has had the past couple of seasons.
The Baltimore Ravens have had the same type of wide receiver problems over the past couple of years, trying to sign players like Dez Bryant, unsuccessfully trying to get Juju Smith-Schuster this offseason, and drafting Rashod Bateman in the first round in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Ravens just placed Bateman on the IR to start the season, so he will not be playing in this game, so it will be up to the talented, but often injured Sammy Watkins, and the speedy Marquise Brown to lead the charge for the Ravens wide receivers in Week 1.
The Raiders have the talent on both sides of the ball to win this game, but they will have to execute against a Ravens team that may be banged up, but still has elite weapons. If the Raiders can get off to a 1-0 start, it will send shockwaves across the rest of the league.