Ah, the Raiders, a team so pathetic that for teams playing them, the game's usually little more than the chance to rest key starters and pad the record books with another win.
For the Rams, however, this game isn't just a practice game against another squad...unless the ugly spectre of "who gives a shit-ism" rears its ugly head. No, for the Rams this game carries big implications for pride and a chace to salvage at least some small, seemingly insignificant part of what quickly became a forgettable season.
Actually, the Rams and Raiders match up pretty well, which could make for an interesting game. The Raiders defense actually rates pretty well, so well that if the Rams were fortunate enough to have somehow magically switched D units in the summer, we'd be talking about a Super Bowl. Oakland's pass defense is the glistening star in the murky sky across the bay. According to Football Outsiders DVOA system, Oakland's pass defense ranks 4th in the league. They allow an average of 155 yards per game, and have been scored on just 15 times. They've intercepted teh ball 17 times, the thrid best INT total in the league.
Steven Jackson should feature prominently in this game, as Oakland's run defense is pure middle of the pack. Now, to some extent that's not entirely accurate, because teams get ahead and just run the ball against them. Beyond that, though, Jackson's role as a short yardage receiver will be important since Oakland ranks, according to DVOA, 30th in defending against the RB as a pass catcher. Compare that to their rank against defending a team's #1 WR - they're the best in the league - and Jackson figures into the Rams' offensive strategy even more...or at least he should.
Shock and awe and quotes like "we were surprised by Oakland's pass defense" after the game WILL NOT be tolerated from Rams coaches.
On the defensive side of the ball...ugh, do have to talk about the Rams D? Yes, Virginia, the Rams do have a defense and we must talk about it. Fortunately for the Rams, though, the Raiders offense is the biggest reason they've got 2 wins on the season. Per DVOA, the Black and Silver are dead last in the league in overall offense, coming in last on the pass and third to last on the run. Still, nothing's easy for this talentless Rams defense, and things aren't helped by Tinoisamoa being out for the season.
Over at ESPN.com, the predicted score of the game is 21-17, Rams. Nothing's easy when your defense is that bad, but the Rams really should be able to beat the Raiders. However, find a good place to sit down tomorrow afternoon 'cause it'll still be a close one.
Chronicling a lost season themselves, Raiders fans over at SBN's Raiders stop, Silver and Black Nation, gaze toward the future with just a touch of cynicism. They'd like to Walter behind center for the Raiders; he won't be and they know it. Go over and commensurate with them this weekend and talk some trash, in a civil manner, Sunday afternoon.