Thursday Night Football Preview: Raiders vs. Rams
Thursday Night Football Preview
Line: Las Vegas Raiders (-6) | O/U 44.5
Week 14 is on the way, and for this week’s edition of Thursday Night Football, we have a matchup that looked much better at the beginning of the season than it does right now. Both of these teams have had their share of struggles throughout the year, but they’ve been heading in opposite directions as of late.
On the Week 14 edition of Thursday Night Football, the Las Vegas Raiders will be traveling to SoFi Stadium to take on the Los Angeles Rams.
These teams are each headed in opposite directions. The revamped Raiders have been a disaster for most of the year, however, they’ve been picking it up lately. Las Vegas is currently on a three-game win streak with wins over the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, and Los Angeles Chargers.
On the other hand, the Rams are currently feeling the burn of going all in to win the super bowl last year. Their roster foundation constructed of popsicle sticks has been exposed with the extensive number of injuries that have been suffered by their star players this season. Los Angeles is currently on a six-game losing streak with their last win coming against the Carolina Panthers in Week 6.
The market consensus has the Raiders as six-point favorites in this matchup with an over/under of 44.5. See all NFL Odds Here.
Notable Injuries: RB Josh Jacobs (Questionable), FS Duron Harmon (Questionable), C Andre James (Questionable)
Much like the rest of the AFC West, the Raiders made a slew of moves in the offseason that drastically increased their playoff chances. Unfortunately, much like their AFC West counterparts that also went “all-in”, things haven’t gone in the direction that was expected. They’re currently sitting at 5-7, and while their path to the playoffs isn’t closed off, their chances are looking bleak.
Despite making moves to improve on the defensive side, the Raiders have continued their longtime trend of being terrible at stopping opposing offenses. They currently rank 27th in yards allowed per game, 30th against the pass, and 14th against the run. They’re also dreadful at forcing turnovers and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks as they’re 31st in defensive turnover rate and 24th in pressure rate.
Their defensive personnel, as most would expect, is pretty weak as a whole. However, they do have some strong players at individual positions. Defensive end Maxx Crosby is the crown jewel of this group as he ranks fourth in sacks and has been a stud at stopping the run. Other standouts include free safety Duron Harmon, cornerback Nate Hobbs, and middle linebacker Denzel Perryman. There is a chance that this group has a solid showing against a weak Rams offense.
The offense is where this team is a real threat. Despite having multiple injuries to some of their main options like Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, they’ve hit a second gear without them as they’re averaging the fourth-most points per game over the last three weeks. In total, the Raiders are eighth in yards per game, ninth in passing, 11th in the run game, and third in scoring rate.
Nearly all of the success of this offense can be attributed to the brilliance of Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. The two have been on an absolute tear recently as Adams is currently fourth in receiving yards and Jacobs is first in rushing yards by nearly 200 yards. Quarterback Derek Carr has been just fine recently, but a great deal of credit has to go to their all-world playmakers. The two will look to continue their insane production against this hampered Rams defense.
Notable Injuries: QB John Wolford (Questionable), WR Ben Skowronek (Questionable), DT Aaron Donald (Out)
The Super Bowl hangover has hit the Los Angeles Rams harder than it has hit any other team in recent memory. After being seen as an unquestioned member of the NFL’s elite, they’re sitting at 3-9 with their top-five draft pick in the hands of the Detroit Lions. Now, with Matthew Stafford out for the season, Los Angeles has turned to Baker Mayfield to lead their offense in this trying time. I think most sane people know how that’s going to go.
But before we get into their patchwork offense, let’s focus on the defense. After being a star-studded group just a year ago, the Rams' defense has taken a noticeable step back in 2022. They’re currently 14th in yards allowed per game, 22nd against the pass, and fourth against the run. Los Angeles is also 23rd in turnover rate and 30th in pressure rate. While their run defense has been solid, being an unintentional pass funnel defense has clearly hurt them against high-flying opponents.
There are big-name players on the defensive side that have certainly been pulling their weight, but as most know, singular players can’t carry a football team. Jalen Ramsey, despite what Twitter might want you to believe, has been himself this season. He’s still been lockdown with a fourth-ranked PFF cornerback grade, his only problem is that he has a knack for allowing touchdowns on the few receptions opposing wideouts have against him.
Bobby Wagner is the other big name who’s coming off an incredible revenge game against the Seattle Seahawks. Wagner is still himself as he ranks first in PFF linebacker grade. Aaron Donald has been great when he plays, but he’s unfortunately injured at the moment. The rest of the defense is just not up to snuff with the standard that was set last season. They’ll likely continue to struggle against a hot Raiders offense.
This offense is a complete mess. They currently rank 31st in yards per game, 25th in passing, 30th in rushing, and third in offensive turnover rate. Injuries play a huge role in this disaster, but their offensive line has also been dreadful, which has limited their ability to produce downfield plays.
As of now, the quarterback position is a toss-up. Baker Mayfield would expect to be the starter, but he’s on pretty short notice and it could easily be John Wolford once again. In reality, though, it doesn’t matter who starts. This group will be just as bad either way. A backfield led by Cam Akers and Kyren Williams is uninspiring and their receiver room’s most notable name is Van Jefferson with Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson out for the season. There isn’t much to get excited about here, so don’t talk yourself into it.
Raiders vs. Rams Prediction
Based on how hot the Raiders have been over their past three weeks, it’s looking like they’re going to come into Los Angeles for their sixth win of the season. Las Vegas has been cooking on the back of Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, and they should take advantage of a Rams defense that has been allowing the sixth-most yards per game over their last three matchups.
With the Rams also still undecided about who the starting quarterback will be for this matchup, things are certainly not looking up for the unrecognizable defending Super Bowl champions.
The Pick: Raiders -6
NFL DFS Showdown Flex Targets
WR - Mack Hollins ($7,400)
The Raiders' top two offensive options, Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs, should be included in nearly every lineup this week. But if you want another piece of that offense that won’t cost top dollar, Mack Hollins could be your guy. While he’s not the most consistent player, Hollins has had his fair share of productive performances as he’s hit double-digit fantasy points in two out of his last three games. The Rams have also allowed the third-most passing yards per game to opposing offenses over their last three games, so Hollins could easily have a decent piece of the pie in this one.
D/ST - Las Vegas Raiders ($5,200)
With how devoid of value this entire slate is, this could be a decent week to include the Raiders D/ST in your lineup. Heck, this could be a time to sneak them into your captain slot if you want to capitalize on more expensive options to fill your flex positions. Las Vegas hasn’t been a good defense for most of the season, but they have an incredibly favorable matchup against this Los Angeles team that lacks any offensive identity at the moment. Vegas is also coming off of a win over the Los Angeles Chargers where they limited their opponent to just 13 points on offense. With an advantageous matchup on the way for a defense that has shown some improvement lately, the Raiders D/ST should be a strong start.
WR - Brandon Powell ($2,400)
While this is an ugly slate with few reliable options on the Rams' side of the ball, Brandon Powell could provide some decent value. Yes, the Los Angeles offense is unwatchable. However, that should not take away from Powell being fairly productive considering the situation. In Week 13, Powell had seven total touches, three on the ground and four through the air. He ended up turning that usage into 84 yards from scrimmage. With Powell being one of the most productive weapons on the offense as of late, there’s a shot he continues to see more opportunities in Week 14.
Jack Camenzind is a writer for FantasyData as well as RotoBaller but he spent time previously as a writer for 5th Down Fantasy. He is a recent graduate of Butler University who is currently residing in St. Louis, Missouri. His deep sports knowledge is primarily tied to the NFL but he’s still a massive fan of the MLB and NBA. He is also a huge St. Louis sports fan but his NFL loyalty is tied to the Denver Broncos, and not just because the Rams moved to Los Angeles. Outside of sports, Jack is a crime drama fan, a frequent runner, and an occasional gamer.