Las Vegas Raiders (5-7) at Los Angeles Rams (3-9)
The Raiders have won three straight after a 2-7 start, but that’s not as big of a shift as you might think, as six of their seven losses came up one score, while their three recent wins have also been one score games. In total, the Raiders have played 9 of 12 games within one score this season and 10 of 12 within single digits. The difference recently is just that they have managed to win their close games, after losing so many early in the season. With so many close games on their schedule, you might think I am going away from the Raiders this week as 6-point road favorites in Los Angeles against the Rams, but I still think they’re the better side, for a few reasons.
For one, the Rams’ current injury situation makes them one of the worst teams in the league. Already without a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team after off-season departures, the Rams have since lost another three starting offensive linemen due to injury, as well as their starting quarterback Matt Stafford, his two best wide receivers, most notably Cooper Kupp, who was arguably the best receiver in the league a year ago, and their top defensive player Aaron Donald, who is also arguably the best in the league at his position.
As injuries have piled up, the Rams have lost six straight, including four by margins that would have covered this spread, with three of those losses being at home. The Raiders are an average at best team that plays a lot of close games, but the Rams are the type of team that even the Raiders shouldn’t have too much trouble with, similar to their multi-score victories over the Texans and Broncos. Also, even though the Raiders have played a lot of games, they have played at least somewhat better in recent weeks, turning their close losses into close wins, and better health on defense is a key part of the reason why, with top cornerback Nate Hobbs and top linebacker Denzel Perryman now back in the lineup.
The Rams also can’t expect much help from their homefield advantage this week. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2016, the Rams have had a pretty limited homefield advantage, with fans supporting the road team frequently showing up in large numbers, leading to the Rams going 31-25 at home (24-29-3 ATS), as opposed to 35-23 on the road (29-27-2 ATS) sincere moving. The crowd should especially be a problem for the Rams in this game, with their season effectively over at 3-9 and with the Raiders being a former Los Angeles team that still has a lot of support in the area. I would expect the majority of fans at this game to be Raiders fans. There isn’t nearly enough here to be confident enough in the Raiders to bet on them, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes, as they should win this game by at least a full touchdown.
Las Vegas Raiders 20 Los Angeles Rams 13
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas -6