Raiders fans won’t be able to dream of an undefeated season for very long. Las Vegas’ first loss will come very early in their 2021 regular season.
The Raiders would love to get off to a quick start in 2021 to improve their odds of making the postseason. Unfortunately, the NFL didn’t do Las Vegas any favors when it comes to their upcoming schedule.
Any dreams the Raiders have of enjoying a magical undefeated season will be quickly dashed after Week 1. Las Vegas opens the year with a high-profile matchup against the Ravens on Monday Night Football. That happens to be the day when the Raiders will incur their first loss of the 2021 regular season.
The ugly truth for the Las Vegas defense is that they just don’t match up well against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ offense. Gus Bradley will need time to get his personnel comfortable with his new defensive system. Playing Baltimore right out of the gate is one of the worst draws possible for Las Vegas’ new defensive coordinator.
The Raiders have a problem at linebacker
In particular, the Raiders’ linebacking corps doesn’t have the talent required to stop the Ravens’ rushing attack. Both Corey Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski signed big deals in free agency with Las Vegas last offseason, but neither justified their hefty contract in 2020. Look for Jackson and Baltimore’s physical offensive line to exploit their lack of size at the point of attack early and often in Week 1.
The only hope the Raiders have of keeping this game close is for their offensive to hold up their end of the bargain and turn the contest into a shootout. Derek Carr should find some success against Baltimore’s overrated front seven, but Las Vegas won’t be able to lean on their ground game after giving up early scores to Jackson and the Ravens’ offense. At some point, Carr is going to make a mistake or two that allows this game to get out of hand in Baltimore’s favor.
The good news for Raiders fans is that their Week 2 matchup at Pittsburgh is an opportunity to even their record at 1-1. They will leave Baltimore with a loss though. Gruden and his coaching staff should consider it a moral victory if they can keep their opener close until the fourth quarter.