It's the Monday after the first NFL Sunday of the season, and I'm doing my best to remind myself not to overreact to anything that happens in the first week of a season. For instance, I do not think Aaron Rodgers is washed up after a terrible performance against the Saints, nor do I think his performance is all part of an evil plot to destroy the Packers from within.
I'm certainly hoping both of these things are true, but I'm not counting on them being so.
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And, before you ask, this is not a defense mechanism for how the Chicago Bears looked on Sunday night against the Rams. It's just a way to remind myself, and everybody, that we had a shorter NFL preseason, as teams played only three games instead of four. It was also a preseason in which many important players -- like Aaron Rodgers -- didn't play at all, and there's no doubt in my mind it impacted the way some players and teams performed on Sunday. Keep that in mind when trying to figure out what to take away from the last 30 hours, especially when it comes to how you want to approach betting Week 2.
But, seriously, if Aaron Rodgers does want to keep playing terribly and take Green Bay down with him, I'm all for it.
- While we're on the subject of what to take away from Week 1, read this week's fantasy football Believe It Or Not.
- Washington placed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick on injured reserve.
- Our Week 1 NFL grades.
- In the land of college football, I wrote about what USC needs to do after it fires Clay Helton. Which it will.
Now, let's talk about the last NFL game on the schedule this week.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
🏈 Ravens at Raiders, 8:15 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Under 50.5 (-110): There's a lot to be said about John Harbaugh's track record in season openers, as well as in games coming off of a bye. When you combine the two during his tenure in Baltimore, he's gone 19-7 ATS. It's remarkably consistent, and while many trends don't tell us anything useful, there's plenty to take away from Harbaugh's history.
Still, I'm not comfortable with this spread tonight.
The Ravens have far too many injuries on both offense and defense, and I don't want to trust them on the road as a favorite. Not in front of a packed house for the first time in two seasons. Instead, when I look at the injuries on both teams, everything about this game screams "Under!" at me.
The Ravens are down to roughly their ninth-string running back, and they've lost Marcus Peters on defense. They'll also be without receivers Myles Boykin and Rashod Bateman. Meanwhile, the Raiders believe they've improved on defense with new personnel and new coordinator Gus Bradley. Unfortunately, on offense, the Raiders have had to replace most of what was one of the better offensive lines in the NFL last season. The entire right side of the line is gone, as is center Rodney Hudson. Furthermore, there's a chance left guard Richie Incognito will not play tonight or will at the very least be less than 100%.
So what I see happening tonight is a Ravens team that has never been efficient passing the ball going against a Raiders team I don't think will be able to run the ball. Baltimore will lean on Lamar Jackson's legs to keep the ball moving and churn clock. The Raiders will try to run the ball and fail before ultimately falling behind and being forced to abandon the run game.
In the end, we stay below this total.
Key Trend: The under is 6-1 in Baltimore's last seven road games.
Here's what SportsLine is saying about the game: Mike Tierney, who is 19-9 in his last 28 against-the-spread picks involving the Ravens, has released his pick for the Monday Night Football matchup between Baltimore and Las Vegas.
💰 More Ravens vs. Raiders picks
The Pick: Lamar Jackson Under 212.5 yards passing (-115): As I said, I don't expect the Ravens to do much in the air tonight as they seldom do. There's a lot of attention focused on the losses of J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards, but while they're both fine players, running back is the most easily replaced position on offense. Plus, when you're sharing a backfield with Lamar Jackson, any running back can find space to run as defenses are more focused on Jackson.
So Ty'Son Williams should have a decent night, and we'll probably see Latavius Murray and Le'Veon Bell get some work too. But I think Lamar will be limited in the air, and while he'll make a few plays to Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown, I don't think there will be enough to push him over the total.
Key Trend: Lamar Jackson has averaged 150.9 passing yards per game on the road in his career, and surpassed 213 yards passing in only three of his 17 games last season.
The Pick: Darren Waller Over 6.5 receptions (+105): If this game goes how I expect it to, the Raiders will need to rely on their passing attack to move the ball effectively, and Darren Waller is Oakland's best receiving weapon. He's a matchup nightmare for most teams, and tonight he's going against a strong Baltimore defense, but one that has lost a few players to injury. Waller will see plenty of targets, and while seven receptions seems like a lot to ask, it's definitely possible.
After all, with Derek Carr behind a questionable offensive line, the Raiders will likely look to get the ball out quickly, and that's where Waller could prove to be a useful safety valve.
Key Trend: Waller caught at least seven passes in seven of 16 games last season.
🔒 SportsLine Pick of the Day: SportsLine's Advanced Projection Model, which is up almost $7,900, has five strong player prop bets for tonight's Monday Night Football game between the Raiders and Ravens.
⚽ Champions League Parlay
The Champions League kicks off group play on Tuesday afternoon, and I've got a three-leg parlay paying +135 for you to sweat.
- Manchester United (-265)
- Juventus (-220)
- Chelsea (-580)