Coming into the season, Thursday night’s game between the L.A. Rams and Las Vegas Raiders was a highly-anticipated matchup with the histories of the two teams, the superstar players, and the famous head coaches.
However, with a 3-9 record and the absence of many of those stars, the Rams don’t quite have the same juice that they did in the beginning of the season and that’s just as Josh McDaniels’ Raiders begin to heat up on a three-game winning streak.
As so, the Rams are listed as 6-point underdogs at home according to DraftKings Sportsbook, and the Raiders should be able to score plenty of points whereas the Rams could struggle, especially if Baker Mayfield gets the start.
The Rams finally got a “victory” against the spread in Week 13’s loss to the Seattle Seahawks, keeping it closer than anticipated. Can John Wolford, Bryce Perkins, or Mayfield help do it again, if not get the victory?
Rams Offense vs. Raiders Defense
For the first time since Week 3, the Rams offense had a positive EPA. They also scored more than 20 points for the first time since Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. The offense hasn’t been a strong point this season, but they seemed to figure out a blueprint that they can follow going forward.
Quarterback John Wolford utilized ran play action on over 60-percent of his dropbacks against the Seattle Seahawks which allowed the offense to utilize TuTu Atwell and Brandon Powell in the run game. Cam Akers also had a season-high 18 touches.
The offensive line is still an issue which could pose a problem against the Raiders. Despite struggling to rush the passer earlier in the season, during their three game win streak The they’ve got to the quarterback 11 times, including sacking Justin Herbert five times last Sunday.
Matchup to Watch: Rob Havenstein vs. Max Crosby
Crosby will likely work on the right side across from Havenstein with Chandler Jones playing strictly on the left side. Havenstein has been consistent this season. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders stunt Crosby to get him favorable matchups inside.
Rams Defense vs. Raiders Offense
For the Rams to find success against the Raiders, they’ll need to be able to pressure Derek Carr into mistakes. However, over the last three weeks, the Raiders have fielded the same offensive line starters and have reaped the benefits.
The Raiders wide receivers will pose problems for the Rams. Mack Hollins and Carr have had a strong connection this season. Carr and Davante Adams have been on the same page as well. After a slow start, Adams has over 125 yards in five of his last six games.
The Rams run defense will also be tested as Josh Jacobs leads the NFL in rushing yards. With no Aaron Donald and A’Shawn Robinson, Jacobs could find some running lanes.
Matchup to Watch: Jalen Ramsey vs. Davante Adams
Adams has had success against Ramsey in the past. With the Green Bay Packers, Adams had three receptions on three targets for 27 yards in the 2020 Divisional Playoff matchup. Last season Adams had five receptions on five targets for 41 yards. Ramsey has had a down year, but will need to be up for the challenge on Thursday night.
The Rams offense arguably played as well as it has at any point this season last week against the Seahawks. Can they keep that up against the Raiders? The big question is who will be starting at quarterback. John Wolford played better than in his first game against the Arizona Cardinals, but showed limitations. Bryce Perkins has limitations as a passer as well and showed that against the Kansas City Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Rams also signed Baker Mayfield, but a Thursday night game might be too soon.
Carr and the Raiders offense should be able to move the ball against a Rams defense without Aaron Donald. The question becomes what version of the Rams offense we get. SoFi Stadium will also likely have a heavy Raiders presence.
The Raiders are one of the hottest teams in the NFL right now while the Rams are on a six game losing streak. In their first head-to-head meeting in Los Angeles, the Raiders come out on top.
Prediction: Raiders 23, Rams 13