Earlier in the week, the Las Vegas Raiders made a bold move by deciding to only allow vaccinated fans at home games during the season. They were the first NFL team to make the decision and it has been met with a bit of pushback. Despite that, the team has stayed firm in its decision.
While unvaccinated fans won’t be allowed to attend games, there’s nothing the Raiders can do about unvaccinated players. However, that didn’t stop team play-by-play commentator Brent Musburger from taking a shot at Lamar Jackson. The Raiders are set to host the Baltimore Ravens in Week 1. Notably, Jackson has is one of the biggest names to publicly state that he has not received the COVID-19 vaccine.
His decision has been met with a lot of controversy but the NFL has yet to implement a rule forcing players to take the shot. Musburger suggested that Jackson shouldn’t be able to play in the game which would make the Raiders the favorites to win in Week 1.
Obviously, Musburger is being facetious but he does bring up a good point. As long as Jackson remains unvaccinated, he’s at risk of having to sit out of games during the season. If he can’t play against the Raiders in Week 1, that would have to make the silver and black the favorites to win the game.
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Week 1 Will Set Tone of Season for Raiders
Despite missing the playoffs in each of Jon Gruden’s three seasons as the head coach, the Raiders always show up in Week 1. They beat the Denver Broncos in 2019’s first game, even after the Antonio Brown disaster. They also pulled off a win against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 last season.
Nobody is arguing that the Raiders are a better team than the Ravens right now. That said, it will be the first game at Allegiant Stadium with fans. There will be a lot of hype surrounding the game and Gruden will have his team ready. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders pull off the upset even if Jackson plays.
Raiders Defense Could Be Greatly Improved
For years, the Raiders have fielded some of the worst defenses in the NFL. That may not be the case anymore. The team has revamped the defense and new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has a long track record of success. The Ravens will provide a great test to start the season.
Jackson was the MVP in 2019 and the Ravens to a 34-17 win in his only career game against the Raiders. So far, reviews have been strong regarding how the team’s defense has looked this offseason. However, nobody is going to buy that the defense is improved until they prove it on the field. Shutting down the former MVP and a dynamic Ravens offense would be massive. The Raiders do have talent as they’ve used a lot of high draft picks to address the defense. The hope will be that Bradley has finally unlocked that talent. In 2019, Bradley’s Chargers held the Ravens to 17 points in a playoff win.