The Baltimore Ravens have been struck with disaster just before the season is about to start. They’ve lost three running backs and Marcus Peters to torn ACLs, which has left them scrambling. The team has led the NFL in rushing in each of the last years so having to overhaul their running back room this close to the season’s start is suboptimal.
The Ravens have already signed Le’Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman to replace the injured running backs but weren’t done there. Latavius Murray was recently cut by the New Orleans Saints which paved the path for Baltimore to sign him. According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic and Adam Schefter of ESPN, Murray has struck a one-year deal with the Ravens.
Notably, the Ravens play the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 1. Murray had his best years with the team and made a Pro Bowl in 2015. Though he’s been off the team since 2017, this will be a bit of a homecoming for him. He has rushed for over 500 yards in a season every year since he was a rookie. He’s also incredibly durable, missing only four games in seven seasons. That’s exactly what the Ravens need right now.
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Can Raiders Defense Step up in Running Game?
With all the injuries piling up, it would be easy for the Raiders to start getting confident that they can stop Baltimore’s run game. However, it won’t be that easy. Lamar Jackson is healthy and as dynamic as ever. As long as he’s running the offense, they’re going to rack up yards on the ground.
What works in the Raiders’ favor is new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. He’s had success against Jackson. In two games against the coach, Jackson has 93 rushing yards with four fumbles and has been sacked 10 times. He’s only completed 26 of 51 passes. Jackson is a tough player to stop for any defense but there’s no doubt Bradley is one coordinator who has given him fits. Obviously, the Raiders aren’t working with the same defensive personnel that the Chargers had but they’ve done a lot to revamp their defense. This will be the ultimate test to see if the Raiders run defense has taken a step forward.
Do Raiders Have a Chance Against Ravens?
You’ll be hardpressed to find anybody predicting the Raiders to win their season opener against the Ravens. Baltimore is considered Super Bowl contenders while Las Vegas can’t crack the top 20 in most power rankings. However, the Raiders have a lot going for them.
They’ve won their last two openers and they surprised a lot of people last season when they beat the New Orleans Saints in the first game at Allegiant Stadium in Week 2. The Ravens are set to play the Raiders for the first time fans are allowed at Allegiant Stadium. There’s going to be a ton of energy and Jon Gruden has proven he can get his team prepared early in the season. Add to the fact that the Ravens had to rebuild their offensive line this offseason and lost a Pro Bowl cornerback and three running backs, and the Raiders have a real shot at pulling off the Week 1 upset.