Raiders vs Rams Game Preview
The Raiders and Rams meet in an early preview of their regular season week one match-up. This rivalry has gone through many postal codes and with both teams trending up, it could be the most intriguing game this week.
The Rams just returned to Los Angeles and made the biggest splash in the offseason signalling to the league they are going for it. The Raiders are looking to bounce back and have also made significant additions.
Things were looking great for Oakland. They snapped their 13-season playoff drought and quarterback Derek Carr was showing promise. But it all quickly went off the rails thanks to injuries. An early playoff exit in 2016 followed by a disastrous 2017 got coach Jack Del Rio canned.
Jon Gruden returns to the sidelines for the first time in a decade and rejoins the Raiders, a team he coached from 1998 to 2001. The pressure is on as Oakland hopes to make a quick turnaround and regain their winning ways.
Los Angeles Rams
In acquiring the biggest defensive pieces in the offseason, Los Angeles is looking to avoid being the 2011 Eagles “Dream Team” which fell flat. It’s hard to envision that as the Rams were already a dominant team in 2017 finishing with an 11-5 record and tied for a league-best 7-1 on the road.
Quarterback Jared Goff will look to prove last season wasn’t a fluke but will need to do it without his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. With all the talent around him, he doesn’t need to do much.
These are two immensely talented squads and the proximity could make for a tasty rivalry. The Rams are better on paper but the Raiders could steal this game in LA.
Raiders vs Rams Head-to-Head Records
Both the Raiders and Rams have relocated several times but their “rivalry” didn’t begin until the 1970s when they first clashed in 1972. The Oakland Raiders crushed the Los Angeles Rams 45-17. The Raiders would dominate the series and currently have an 8-5 lead in 13 total meetings.
The rivalry would become more serious when Oakland relocated to LA in the 1980s. In their five meetings in LA, the Raiders won four of five meetings. The Raiders had a budding dynasty having won three Super Bowls in eight seasons while the Rams were also a perennial contender and made a Super Bowl appearance.
When the Rams relocated to St. Louis, the series shifted to their favour. They won three of the next five meetings with the most recent being one of the most lopsided NFL victories: a 52-0 dismantling of the Raiders in 2014. Two games before that, the Rams once again shut out the Raiders 20-0.
In their last five, the Rams have more than doubled on the Raiders outscoring them 131-64. But with both teams boasting superstar talents, it’s unlikely future meetings will be as lopsided. Expect a more competitive series moving forward.
Oakland Raiders Recent History
The Raiders were one of the NFL’s best franchises during the ’70s and ’80s winning three Super Bowls and making seven AFC championship games. They boasted superstar talents like Marcus Allen and Jim Plunkett yet had to relocate twice moving from Oakland to Los Angeles then back to Oakland.
After the move back to Oakland, everything went downhill fast. Since 1995, the Raiders have only made four playoff appearances. They returned to the Super Bowl in 2002 but were on the wrong side of a lopsided loss against the Tampa Bay during the infamous “Gruden Bowl”.
Gruden returns to coach the Raiders in what could be a boom-or-bust scenario. They just posted their best record in 16 seasons two years ago and anything short of a playoff return would be a major bust. This team has enough talent to reach the Super Bowl.
Los Angeles Rams Recent History
Like the Raiders, the Rams relocated many times. They started in Cleveland before relocating to Los Angeles in 1946 where they played for 48 seasons until moving to St. Louis in 1995. While in LA, the Rams were the class of the NFC West winning consecutive division titles culminating in a Super Bowl appearance in 1979.
Moving to St. Louis, the Rams won their first Super Bowl in 1999. They would make another appearance in 2001 in a losing effort versus the Brady-Bellichick Patriots. But it fell apart after that and the Rams would fail to record a winning season from 2004 up until 2017, their second season back in Los Angeles.
With the Rams back in Los Angeles, they are shooting for the stars and are hoping to give the fans the Super Bowl they missed. They might just do it these next few seasons.
Oakland Raiders Outlook
On paper, the Raiders have the potential to be one of the most stacked teams in the NFL. From top-to-bottom, they have Pro Bowlers like Carr, Marshawn Lynch (RB), and Khalil Mack (DE). Their o-line is one of the best in the division (if healthy) and their defence received upgrades in the offseason.
The offence was decimated by injuries in 2017 while the Raiders’ D was among the worst in the league. They were in the bottom five in most passing categories including being dead-last in interceptions. They addressed this concern by adding to their defensive line and secondary through the draft and offseason signings.
Gruden is a great coach but he hasn’t coached in a decade. If the Raiders stay healthy and get better, they can live up to their promise and be the AFC’s best team. But it is also equally likely they burn out.
Los Angeles Rams Outlook
The Rams were already a Super Bowl contender last season and this was with their franchise quarterback improving immensely in just his sophomore year. Goff will have to do it again this season albeit with a different play-caller on offence.
Todd Gurley is the league’s best running back and they locked him up for the long-term. Their offensive line is a big reason why he and Goff have been successful. And on defence, their secondary and defensive line received massive upgrades with Ndamukong Suh (DT), Marcus Peters (CB), and Aqib Talib (CB). But their linebackers are suspect.
Los Angeles is facing a lot of expectations thanks to their many upgrades. While having weak linebackers shouldn’t be too troubling given how stacked they are everywhere else, it’s the pressure that could get to this team. A regression should be expected but even with that, they should be a contender.
The showdown between Goff and Carr will be what everyone will talk about but it could be backups Sean Mannion and Connor Cook who could “steal the show” in the second half when they are going against backups. The Raiders also pried Greg Olson from the Rams and he should quickly pay dividends for them.
The Rams have the better starters in most positions but linebackers. Gurley will be tough to spot even for Oakland’s talented linebackers and likewise, Lynch and newly-signed Doug Martin should punish Los Angeles’ thin run defence.
Since both teams are adjusting to new play-callers, the game could have low scoring with plenty of mistakes and sloppy plays even with the starters. Both teams also added plenty of new pieces who are still settling in. The backups will get most of the burn in the second-half.
The difference-maker here is Olson who would be familiar with several of the Rams’ plays and playmakers. That extra intel will be what lifts Oakland past their NFC rivals.