First off, let's just get this out there: the Raiders are the easiest team the Rams will face all year. They made a coaching change early in the season and have only managed one win. Their team is all-around weak aside from a few admitted studs such as Khalil Mack. However, if the Rams really are just a 'step' away from being playoff bound in the coming years, then this is a must-win. So, when 'Silver & Black' Friday comes around this Sunday and the Rams, according to Microsoft's Cortana game-picking engine, have nearly a 2/3 chance to win, it'll seem as if it's the Rams getting the real bargain here. However, even bargains have a price; here's the price the Rams will have to pay to get the win.
Coaching will need to be on point.
- It's no coincidence the games we've managed to win have been the most well-coached. Teams with great coaches succeed even at times when they're lesser-talented. Players play better when they're being used better and that's proven. Look at Mark Sanchez Philadelphia edition vs. Mark Sanchez New York edition; one is a joke and one looks like a legitimate quarterback. Similarly, the Raiders may be less-talented than the Rams which most can agree on, but we can't think our talent will win this game. We've beaten the Seahawks, Niners and Broncos using a superior defensive gameplan and phenomenal special teams play. Sure, no one would want the Raiders in the same boat as those teams, but the same rules apply. The Raiders will be hungry for a win so we can't undersell them. What I'm looking for is complex blitz packages to try and get pressure on Derek Carr and force him into rookie mistakes and maybe give Janoris Jenkins the opportunity to further redeem himself with another interception. Moral of the story, we need to gameplan.
- Last week, though a loss was the end result, was a great example of how players making plays can keep you in a game. Jenkins had a pick six at a time the Chargers were close to scoring which created a big point swing, Stedman Bailey had a handful of nice catches (though the nicest one was taken away by penalty, unfortunately) and Tavon Austin tacked on a nice fifteen yard run. When all of your playmakers are clicking, you should be able to win a game and, if not, you should be able to compete. A couple interceptions derailed the efforts last week, but that was a winnable game. Against the Raiders this kind of performance should equal a victory.
- Everyone knows turnovers cost you points and sometimes they even put points up against you. They're the kind of swing winning teams tend to avoid. This team is structured well-enough to avoid the quarterbacking weakness and focus on a run-first assault and a dominating defense that can stop anyone. Field position needs to be played. Plus, running first opens up play actions which gets receivers open. Risking long balls into traffic or potentially interceptable balls in general is a terrible plan for this team. Perhaps for a Stafford-led Lions it works because they have Calvin Johnson and Stafford has a cannon, but the Rams need to run and play defense. Doing this, especially against a weak Raiders team, should be able to lead to a victory. Allow Derek Carr and the Raiders to make their own mistakes. And, this should go without saying, but everyone needs to cover the ball. That's always big...
Playmakers need to make plays
Everyone needs to be mistake-free
So, there you have it. That's the price of a victory on Sunday. If the Rams want it bad enough, they can put the work in over the course of this week and come out with it on Sunday. Luckily for them, it's Black Friday which means, if they come out with the win, they get more than just a win... they get a side order of pride, too. Who really wants to lose to the Raiders right now? If they don't win, their confidence could be shaken a tad. So, let's just hope they come out on top.