Rams vs. Raiders Game Preview
The Oakland Raiders came out of the gates slow getting pummeled 38-13 last week by the Tennessee Titans. The St. Louis Rams played hard and hung in their with the Arizona Cardinals before falling 17-13. The Raiders are coming off a 5-11 season and with the addition of Jason Campbell many think the Raiders could win as many as 8 games this year. The Rams coming off a 1-15 season took Sam Bradford first overall in the 2010 NFL Draft to help turn their franchise around. The Raiders and Rams simply need to get better and put more points on the board. These two were the only teams to score under 200 points in 2009 and both started the year off by scoring 13.
On offense the St. Louis Rams will look to be more balanced this week against the Raiders. The Rams will hopefully not have Sam Bradford throw 55 times in this one. The Rams are going to need to feature Steven Jackson against the Raiders who allowed 205 yards and 5.3 per carry to Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans last week. Jackson had 26 touches against the Cardinals but he did not seem to have any impact on the game. Jackson who only had four touchdowns in 2009 needs to find a way to get the ball into the end zone for the Rams. The Rams move the ball between the 30's but they fail to utilize Jackson in the red zone. If the Rams are patient and stay with the run they should be able to make Sam Bradford more successful with play action and roll out passes. Sam Bradford will look for his new target Mark Clayton who had 10 catches for 119 yards against the Cardinals in Week 1 after being traded away from the Baltimore Ravens.
On defense the Rams were hurt by injuries to the secondary against the Cardinals. Ron Bartell and the rest of the Rams did a nice job against Derek Anderson and the Cardinals wide receiving core. The Rams defense just needs to keep getting off the field by forcing some punts. The Raiders were 3 of 14 on 3rd down conversions against Tennessee. The Raiders will test the Rams deep with Darrius Heyward-Bey, but most of the time look for Jason Campbell to dump the ball off or run with it. Campbell targeted Darren McFadden and Zach Miller 17 times last week in the passing game, and he also ran 7 times for 35 yards. The Rams should stay deep and make the Raiders put together long drives to score.
On offense I expect Jason Campbell to be Jason Campbell which is an inconsistent QB that can put up some decent looking stats but no end results. Jason Campbell likes to pull the ball down and likes to be safe however he still tends to make mistakes. Last week Campbell fumbled twice and threw an interception. This looks like the same Jason Campbell that played at Washington, he will not wow you but he can beat you if you let him. With Michael Bush injured look for Darren McFadden to get a lot of touches against the Rams. The Rams need to be aggressive stack the box and put the Raiders in passing situations. With Bey and Louis Murphy the Raiders are young and inexperienced at wide receiver just like the Rams. I look for Zach Miller to be the best option for the Raiders. The Rams struggle with Tight Ends that can get down the field, and they are also thin at linebacker due to some injuries.
On defense if Richard Seymore is out the Raiders will be in big trouble trying to stop Steven Jackson. The Raiders can lock Nnamdi Asomugha onto Mark Clayton and hope to bait Sam Bradford into some ill-advised throws. A lot of pressure will be on the Raiders linebackers Kamerion Wimbley, Ronald McClain, and Trevor Scott to stop Steven Jackson.
I will keep saying it until they do it, the St. Louis Rams still need to learn how to win again. The Rams have lost 9 straight games, and 26 of their last 27. So with that being said they have to show me that they can win a close game and beat some of these other bad teams. I really don't believe the Raiders should win this game but they are at home and coming off a pasting, and I think they will do enough to pull it out.
Prediction: Oakland Raiders 17-16 over St. Louis Rams