Raiders peaking, Rams declining, creates “perfect storm” for Vegas

The end of the Rams' season could be the start of the Raiders' playoff run.

The Las Vegas Raiders find themselves riding a three-game winning streak. Can they keep the streak alive coming into a short week against the Los Angeles Rams? That remains to be seen.

When evaluating game-film, the reigning Super Bowl champs aren’t the same from last season. They no longer have the top-heavy personnel that made them a threat atop the NFC.

Gone is seven-time All-Pro OLB Von Miller and two-time All-Pro WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Two players who were vital to the team’s Super Bowl run–both are no longer in Los Angeles. You combine those two with the vastly underrated free-agent losses of DT Sebastian Joseph-Day, OG Austin Corbett, the retirement of OT Andrew Whitworth, the long-term injuries to QB Matthew Stafford (neck), WR Cooper Kupp (high-ankle sprain), DT A’Shawn Robinson (torn meniscus), and All-World DT Aaron Donald (high-ankle sprain), and the team now looks like damaged goods.

If you’re doing the math, that’s nine starters missing from last year’s Super Bowl roster. They did add ILB Bobby Wagner, so that’s a nice consolation prize. Still, this team is not playoff material and the Raiders are peaking at the right time, thus creating a perfect storm.

The Rams are riding a six-game losing streak. That streak isn’t likely to change on Thursday, as long as the Raiders don’t play down to their competition.

Discipline, determination, and dedication were ideologies echoed by Raiders new head coach Josh McDaniels and General Manager Dave Ziegler. It’s part of the “Raider Way.”

The “iron sharpens iron,” mentality in brewing competition was alive and well starting with training camp. Then the losses started to pile up and Coach had to talk about facing “adversity,” and “learning how to not lose before you can win.”

Well, the growth of the team is starting to pick up steam and a big part of that success has to be fourth-year RB Josh Jacobs. A player who currently leads the NFL in rushing yards yet was declined on his 5th-year option under this new regime, Jacobs is a firm believer in “the work you put in, is going to pay off for itself.”

As stated earlier, the Rams roster is vastly depleted. That’s good news for the Raiders rushing attack which uses a heavy dose of Jacobs while operating from 12 personnel using fullback Jakob Johnson as the lead back to blow up holes in i-formations.

Jacobs should run well over 100+ rushing yards while the aerial attack gets going using WR Davante Adams as the primary weapon between the 20s. Last week, witnessed Adams go off for 8 catches for 177 receiving yards (22.1 avg.) and two touchdowns.

I asked Adams for his thoughts on the first of his two touchdowns–a 31-yard go-route against CB Asante Samuel Jr.

Adams was arguably the hottest topic during the offseason. A perennial All-Pro who wanted to be closer to home. The move has paid off as Adams is once again in-line to become a 1st-team All-Pro selection.

How will he fare this week? That all depends on which CB Jalen Ramsey shows up.

I grade every single snap amongst the top players from all 32 NFL teams–and Ramsey is one of those players.

In my grading system, Ramsey has struggled this year, playing at an average level. Am I saying, he’s an average cornerback? Absolutely not. He’s a top-five cornerback year-in and year-out. But this year, he has struggled and my grades don’t lie.

Look for Ramsey to be matched up one-on-one with Adams–only to see Adams win in the end due to his savvy route-running. Adams makes every route look the same, knows how to leverage his way to get “friendly to the QB,” while understanding cover-shell schemes. All those things aren’t easy to master, yet Adams does this seamlessly on every snap.

If Ramsey is to endure any success, he will need help. The ultra-competitive, yet aggressive cornerback can stick to receivers in a mirror-match game, the kicker is his lack of discipline in “trusting his eyes.” He sometimes peeks into the backfield, leaving his assignment–which results in big plays.

Adams and WR Mack Hollins should rack up some big plays tonight, while the running game controls the time of possession.

In the end, I believe the Raiders offensive assault will be too much for the Rams defense, predicting a Raiders win–27-16.

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