After finally winning for the first time in an entire calendar year — against a very good team, at that — the Nation is ecstatic but cautious. Obviously it’s way too soon to tell if the Raiders are over the proverbial hump yet, but Sunday’s road game in St. Louis will provide more evidence of whether the Raiders are starting to get it together or not. The Rams may be the best 4-7 team in the league, as far as doing more with less is concerned.
Despite having to use their backup quarterbacks all season, and having a weak running game and no real #1 WR (sound familiar?), the Rams have managed to beat Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco in the last six weeks, and should have won on the road in San Diego last week. This is mostly due to a solid defense and some novel special teams plays. Jeff Fisher has shown a great sense of timing and a lot of guts in calling some of these plays, giving his team a sense of urgency and a willingness to play like they have nothing to lose.
Yes, the Rams are very much the Raiders’ doppelganger in the NFC — a team in the process of rebuilding, whose fortunes are at least in part driven by the fact that they’re in a tough division with three significantly better teams. Two significant differences: on offense, Kenny Britt has emerged in recent weeks as the Rams’ go-to receiver, with 280 yards and 2 touchdowns over the last 5 games; on defense, while they only have 7 team interceptions, both of Janoris Jenkins’ INTs have been pick-sixes.
But the Rams are vulnerable, and four of their losses (including two at home) have been by at least 14 points. Oakland’s pass rush and coverage have improved the last several games, and if they can maintain that against a beleaguered Rams o-line that has given up 34 sacks, and get Latavius Murray and Marcel Reece rolling the running game again, they have a pretty solid chance in this one.