Oakland Raiders (1-10 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. St. Louis Rams (4-7 SU, 5-6 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date and Time: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OAK +7.5/STL -7.5
Over/Under Total: 42.5
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On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders, fresh off their first win of the season, come into the Edward Jones Dome to face the St. Louis Rams. The Raiders played last Thursday, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 24-20 to end the Chiefs 5-game winning streak and begin their own after a string of 16 consecutive losses. The Rams came up painfully short against the Chargers on Sunday, when a late interception deep in San Diego territory sealed the Rams fate.
The Rams have been alternating wins and losses over their last 7 games. They really had a chance to breathe some more life into their season on Sunday after storming all the way back from a late 10-point deficit, only to see a potential go-ahead touchdown spoiled by an untimely interception. But for a 4-7 team, the Rams are a handful. They have beaten good teams like the Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos. They lost painfully-close games to the Cowboys and Eagles and were leading Arizona going into the 4th quarter before falling apart late. In other words, there is more than meets the eye with the Rams and one shouldnt let their record define them.
The Raiders looked far from the worst team in the league last Thursday, bringing a halt to a Kansas City winning streak with a stellar performance. Rookie QB Derek Carr was a ball of energy and seemed to pump some extra life into the Oakland team. Andre Holmes and Julio Jones were catching balls and the defense was clutch when it needed to be. The win likely wont signal a total about-face for the Raiders, but its a step in the right direction.
You couldnt help but feel sorry for the Raiders and RB Latavius Murray when the suddenly-emergent running back took a massive hit that looked to knock him out on Thursday. He had just run for a 90-yard touchdown in what may have been the most thrilling Oakland run since the days of Bo Jackson. But then he took a gigantic hit and now is questionable for Sunday, even after the long week. It looked like the Raiders had found the long-elusive answer to their run-game problems, so hopefully he doesnt miss too much time.
The Rams look like they will be sticking with QB Shaun Hill, even though his costly interceptions on Sunday were a major roadblock to the Rams getting a win in San Diego. Rookie Tre Mason is not a superstar-in-wait perhaps, but hes giving the Rams some of the better running performances they have seen in quite a while and he has a lot of promise. WR Stedman Bailey is seeing an increased role in recent weeks, though his old West Virginia teammate Tavon Austin is seeing his standing in the offense decrease. Kenny Britt and Jared Cook round out an offense that is certainly toward the bottom in overall production, though they can be dangerous when the stars are aligned right.
The Rams defense is also ranked toward the bottom in most pertinent categories. But it can depend a lot on the opponent and what mood the Rams show up in on a given day. We listed the quality wins they have accumulated this season, in addition to the near-misses they had where they played pretty well on both sides of the ball. At the same time, their meltdown on Sunday when victory seemed to be within their grasp is hardly an aberration. Multiple times this season, a good Rams performance was spoiled by a late collapse. And thats a big part of the reason they are only 5-6 against-the-spread, despite there being a lot of games where they played pretty well. And lets face it–most teams havent played the kind of schedule St. Louis has. In their last 9 games, all teams they have played are now at least 7-4.
Oakland has a little momentum now and should come into St. Louis with a good headspace. St. Louis is by no means infallible and theyve been making a lot of mistakes lately, namely with turnovers and devastatingly-untimely penalties. After all, the Rams are 4-7 for a reason. It may be a record that makes them look worse than they really are, but they are only 2-3 at home this season and Oakland may be running into one of their easier opponents in recent weeks, as they have also been fed to one good team after the next so far this season.
If you would prefer to take St. Louis more in the role of an underdog, youre not alone. With them giving away more than a touchdown in this game, its a role not ideally befitting a team like St. Louis. Not that they couldnt blast the Raiders by 8 or more points, being that Oakland has lost by that margin or more 5 times this season. But theyve held it under that margin five times too and I think they will again on Sunday.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oakland Raiders plus 7.5 points.