By David McDonnell
After getting booted out of the Carolina Panthers on Monday, Baker Mayfield is in line to play for the LA Rams against the visiting Raiders on Thursday Night Football.
With Matt Stafford ruled out after successive concussions, Sean McVay will likely check first on John Wolford who picked up a neck injury on Sunday but all indications are that we will see Mayfield on the field at SoFi stadium later tonight.
The storyline adds a bit more excitement to the occasion between two teams, one who already preparing for next season and the other with only an outside shot of playing football in January.
Las Vegas Raiders
Power Rankings: 21st
DVOA Rankings: Offence:13th, Defence: 31st, SP:11th: Total: 23rd
The Raiders have been flying lately. Only a month ago people across the league were calling for Josh McDaniels’ head on a plate. Don’t take that literally but there were calls for him to be replaced as head coach of the Raiders after less then 10 games into his first season.
At the time, the offence was stuttering, and outside of Maxx Crosby the rest of the Raiders defence looked as sturdy as a wet paper bag. However, things have changed dramatically in recent weeks and they have pulled off three successive wins with two of these victories against team with playoff ambitions: the Seahawks and the Chargers.
So what has changed?
In my opinion, it starts with the defensive line who have started to dominate their opponents over the last few weeks. Whereas before it was only Maxx Crosby, he is now getting help from the rest of the unit in getting after the quarterback. Last Sunday Chandler Jones had his best game in Silver and Black gaining three sacks on Justin Herbert.
Running-back Josh Jacobs has been outstanding in the rushing attack all year and it is giving Derek Carr and Devontae Adams the ability to run play action to get big chuck plays down the field. Both are delivering massive scores what seems every week. What has also been clear recently has been the success of both receivers Adams and Mack Hollins blocking to assist Jacobs and the rushing attack.
It is terrific to see a team playing to their potential and that is what Josh McDaniels has his team doing right now. All talk of a change of head coach is no longer an issue.
According to the statistics the Raiders have less than a 10% chance of making the playoffs, but a win tonight would make it four in a row and a chance for a winning record, which would be a successful salvage operation on which to build on for next season.
Las Angles Rams
Power Rankings: 30th
DVOA Rankings: Offence: 27th, Defence: 16th, SP: 25th, Total: 27th
The LA Rams are already preparing for the 2023 season and it is good to see that the players are not throwing in the towel.
Last weekend they gave the Seahawks a good run for their money in a heated and mean spirited game. A pass from Geno Smith to DK Metcalf at the end of the game cost them a win against their division rivals.
It is difficult to win games in the National Football League at any time but especially when you are down Aaron Donald, Matt Stafford, Cooper Kupp, three of their big stars but Bobby Wagner has taken over leadership of the defence and it is starting to perform better.
The Rams have been deficient on the offensive side of the ball where their passing game in particular has been very poor since Kupp got injured. They have totaled 178 and 106 passing yards in their last two games respectively and a total of one receiving touchdown. Their run game is better but still nothing to write home about.
Should Baker Mayfield start tonight, it’s a tough ask to come in under short notice and expect to run any offence. I wouldn’t be a big fan of Baker on a good day anyway and I think he will struggle to impact the game.
This season he looks overweight and has been slow to move inside or outside the pocket and I think I think he will be under pressure all night and he is going to get hit often in this matchup. If the Raiders can stop the run, which I expect they will then I think they should be able to pull clear in the second half.
Derek Carr has been playing well in recent weeks and I can see a huge advantage for the Raiders at the pivotal position. It is enough for me to throw my hat on a Thursday Night Football Raiders win.