Rams v Raiders Predictions: Las Vegas expected to roll over local rivals

Tom Collins

7 December 2022

Thursday Night Football returns to the west coast as the Las Vegas Raiders travel to Los Angeles to face the Rams, who look to end a dismal six-game losing streak.

SoFi Stadium has been a fortress for the Rams in recent seasons - they even became the second side in NFL history to win a Super Bowl in their own arena back in February. However, this Rams team lacks the quality that they had on the field last year.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford has played well below his top level and is now out for the year after being placed on injured reserve (more about that later!). Star receiver Cooper Kupp is also done for the season, while Jalen Ramsey, despite being relied upon in man-to-man coverage, is giving up plenty of touchdowns to leading wideouts. 

The Rams suffered a last-gasp loss against divisional rivals Seattle Seahawks last Sunday and, at 3-9, they know their season is done. After a short week, they host one of the in-form teams in the NFL.

Rejuvenated raiders

Surely a team that possesses the league’s leading rusher (Josh Jacobs), fourth-ranked wideout in receiving yards (Davante Adams), and an edge rusher with 10.5 sacks on the year (Maxx Crosby) must have a positive record? Wrong. The Raiders sit at 5-7, and are currently third in the AFC West behind the Chiefs and Chargers.

Despite an upturn in their general level of play on the field, this season just hasn’t gone to plan for Las Vegas. Numerous defeats in close games - they have already lost to the Chargers, Cardinals, Titans, Chiefs, Jaguars and Colts this year by seven points or fewer - appear to have cost Josh McDaniels’ side a playoff chance.

Nevertheless, the Raiders have been firing on all cylinders over the last three weeks and enter Thursday’s match-up against the Rams on the back of three consecutive victories. Although they are officially the road team in this encounter, this will seem like a home game given the relatively short trip between Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Mayfield, Wolford or Perkins?

Who will the Rams start at quarterback, and how long will they retain the number on spot on the depth chart? Three different signal callers have played for Los Angeles this year - Matthew Stafford, John Wolford and Bryce Perkins - and none of them have cut much ice. Stafford’s experience and arm talent kept him in the top spot until he was ruled out for the year, and neither of his predecessors have shown enough to warrant the starting job.

Cooper Kupp: out for the season

Wolford’s two starts have resulted in losses - he threw just one passing touchdown and three interceptions, while Perkins looked raw in the defeat against Kansas City when he was trusted to lead his team. Just 100 yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions clearly wasn’t enough to convince head coach Sean McVay to give him another chance.

The Rams have understandably kept an eye on the waiver wire for a replacement, and Baker Mayfield’s release from the Carolina Panthers earlier this week provided the perfect addition. The experienced, but young quarterback could make his debut for the Rams this week (no confirmed starter at the time of writing), though chucking him in at this stage without prior knowledge of the playbook would be the recipe for disaster.

So, what's the verdict?

Given the contrasting form of these teams, the current Rams quarterback situation and their defensive struggles, it is difficult not to side with the Las Vegas Raiders in this match-up, even if the handicap has them as six-point favourites. That line is a little aggressive, but should be coverable. 

I also want to play the anytime touchdown market and, with Jalen Ramsey likely to follow Davante Adams around the field, Mack Hollins could find himself in man-to-man coverage on numerous occasions. The Rams have been poor at covering secondary receivers in recent weeks - they have allowed touchdowns from AJ Green, Juwan Johnson and Tyler Lockett in the last four weeks - and Hollins can add his name to that list.

Rams v Raiders Predictions

Las Vegas Raiders -6 @ 1.91
Mack Hollins anytime touchdown @ 3

Tom Collins

7 December 2022

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