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Raiders vs. Rams prediction: Roll the dice with streaking Las Vegas on TNF

Back the Raiders to win and cover their fourth in a row, this time against banged-up Rams

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs heads into Thursday night's game at the Los Angeles Rams with an NFL-best 1,303 rushing yards. He's also tied for second in the league with 10 rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs heads into Thursday night's game at the Los Angeles Rams with an NFL-best 1,303 rushing yards. He's also tied for second in the league with 10 rushing touchdowns. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)Read moreChris Unger / Getty Images

When the NFL’s schedule makers decided back in the spring to make Raiders vs. Rams the first Thursday Night Football game of December, they envisioned a late-season battle of West Coast playoff contenders.

Instead, they’re getting a late-season battle between two West Coast underachievers — one whose playoff hopes are on life support (Raiders) and the other whose playoff plug already has been pulled (Rams).

Indeed, the Week 14 opener between teams with a combined 8-16 record doesn’t exactly scream “sexy”. Nonetheless, the game is on the NFL betting board. And with one side dealing with a slew of injuries to key players, we’ve got a strong betting opinion for this inter-conference clash.

Here’s our Raiders vs. Rams prediction for Thursday Night Football.

Odds updated as of 12:45 p.m. ET on Dec. 7.

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Raiders vs. Rams Prediction

  1. Raiders -6 (at Caesars Sportsbook)

Raiders vs. Rams Prediction: Analysis

Had you told us a month ago that we’d play the Raiders as a road favorite in a prime-time game, we would’ve assumed you meant the Texas Tech Red Raiders. And that Texas Tech was facing an FCS opponent.

Such is the state of the L.A. Rams right now.

Not only are the defending champions 3-9, but they enter Thursday’s game at SoFi Stadium having lost six straight games overall and three straight at home. They also enter the game with significant injury issues, especially at quarterback.

Matthew Stafford, who struggled when he was on the field, is done for the season with a neck/spine injury. Also, primary backup John Wolford left last week’s game at Seattle with his own neck injury.

With Wolford questionable, Los Angeles on Tuesday claimed 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. Mayfield was awful in Carolina, losing five of six starts while throwing as many interceptions as TD passes (six).

» READ MORE: Super Bowl odds: Eagles remain third choice to win NFL title

Despite those putrid stats, the Rams might start Mayfield if Wolford can’t go. The only other option: third-stringer Bryce Perkins.

Whoever lines up under center won’t be throwing to wide receivers Cooper Kupp — the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year — or Allen Robinson III. Like Stafford, both are on injured reserve, each with ankle injuries.

But wait, it gets worse: The little-known backups to Kupp and Robinson — Ben Skowronek and Lance McCutcheon — are questionable with shoulder injuries.

On the other side of the ball, sack specialist and three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald likely will sit out a second straight game with an ankle injury. And starting linebacker Terrell Lewis (back) and cornerback Troy Hill (groin) are also questionable.

All this for a franchise that has defeated just three teams — Atlanta, Arizona and Carolina — that are a combined 13-29 this season.

It’s a franchise whose “high-octane” offense — with and without Stafford, Kupp and Robinson — has been held to 20 points or less in nine of 12 games (including 14 or less six times). And whose defense has given up at least 24 points in eight contests (including 27, 27, 26 and 27 the last four weeks).

While the Rams continue to spiral, the Raiders have righted their pirate ship. Since starting 2-7, including six losses in one-score games, Las Vegas has won and covered three in a row.

Las Vegas closed out November with six-point overtime road victories at Denver (22-16) and Seattle (40-34), then rallied past the Chargers 27-20 last week as a 2.5-point home favorite.

Quarterback Derek Carr and former Fresno State teammate Davante Adams have reestablished their connection. Carr is nearing 3,000 passing yards, while Adams is tied for the NFL lead with 12 touchdowns and he ranks fourth with 1,176 receiving yards and fifth with 79 receptions.

Complementing both in a huge way is running back Josh Jacobs. Despite battling quad and calf injuries for multiple weeks, Jacobs has an NFL-best 1,303 rushing yards — nearly 200 more than Cleveland’s Nick Chubb — and he’s tied for second with 10 rushing TDs.

» READ MORE: Week 14 NFL lines: Eagles open as sizable favorites vs. Giants

So even without Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller and possession receiver Hunter Renfrow (both on IR), the Raiders’ offense is humming on all cylinders right now. The Rams’ offense? It’s in the mechanic’s garage.

Yes, L.A. put up its third-highest point total of the season in last week’s 27-23 loss at Seattle. And, yes, the Rams were in the game the entire way and covered easily as a 6.5-point underdog.

We just don’t see that happening again — not with all the injury issues, and not on a short week against a Raiders squad that is finally playing with confidence under first-year coach Josh McDaniels.

Something to keep in mind, too: With the exception of Las Vegas’ 30-29 loss at Kansas City as a 7-point underdog in Week 5, the straight-up winner has covered the point spread in every Raiders game this season.

Since we can’t see any scenario in which Los Angeles pulls off the upset, we’ll do something we never thought we’d be doing as recently as mid-November: confidently laying nearly a touchdown on the road with the Raiders.

Raiders vs. Rams odds (via Caesars Sportsbook)

  1. Point spread: Raiders (-6) @ Rams (+6)

  2. Moneyline: Raiders (-260) @ Rams (+210)

  3. Total: 44.5 points

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