Raiders-Rams Preview

In Week 2, the Raiders have their home opener as they take on their former Los Angeles counterparts, the St. Louis Rams. Rookie Sam Bradford plays in his first regular season road game in Oakland, and the Raiders and their fans hope to give him a rude welcoming.

GAME INFO

-- For their Week 2 matchup on Sunday, the Oakland Raiders will host the St. Louis Rams in what is a battle of Los Angeles' two former teams.

-- Kickoff is set for 1:05pm PT. Game time temperature is predicted at 71 degrees Fahrenheit.

-- One of the big stories coming into the game is that the television broadcast will be blacked out for local audiences because tickets had not been sold out 72 hours in advance of the kickoff. This is the eighth straight black out and first home opener that's been blacked out since 2004 against the Buffalo Bills.

-- Nationally, or wherever you can find a stream, the game will be televised on FOX with Ron Pitts and John Lynch in the booth.

-- The Raiders are currently riding a five-game losing streak in their home openers with their last victory being the aforementioned 2004 game against the Bills. The Raiders won that game 13-10.

-- Both teams come into the game with a record of 0-1. In Week 1, the Raiders fell to the Titans by a score of 38-13. The Rams opened the season with a home-loss to the Arizona Cardinals, 17-13. In that game, the Rams had the lead in the fourth quarter, until Derek Anderson connected with Larry Fitzgerald for a 21-yard touchdown strike to give the Cardinals the win.

-- The Raiders lead the all-time series record at 7-4.

-- Week 15 of the 2006 season was the last time these two teams met. In that game, Steven Jackson ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams shutout the Raiders, 20-0 in Oakland. Since the, St. Louis has last 12 consecutive games to AFC teams.

-- The Rams have been the league's worst team for the past three seasons. During that span, they have won a total of only six games to 42 losses.

-- Last year, the Rams won only one game to 15 losses.

-- Steve Spagnuolo is the current head coach of the St. Louis Rams. Last year was his first as a head coach. Before that, he spent two years as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. Before that, he spent eight years with the Philadelphia Eagles, working at various levels of the defensive staff.

-- This will be Spagnuolo and Tom Cable's first time squaring off against each other.

-- Sunday's game will be Tom Cable's 30th as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. That is the most for a Raiders coach since Norv Turner coached the team for 32 games from 2004 to 2005.

INJURIES/SUSPENSIONS

-- For the Raiders:

Out: LB Travis Goethel (back), CB Walter McFadden (hamstring) and WR Chaz Schilens (knee)

Doubtful: G Robert Gallery (hamstring)

Questionable: RB Michael Bush (thumb), FS Hiram Eugene (hamstring), CB Chris Johnson (neck) and DE Richard Seymour (hamstring)

Probable: CB Nnamdi Asomugha (groin), DT Desmond Bryant (elbow)

-- For the Rams:

Out: WLB Chris Chamberlain (toe), TE Michael Hoomanawanui (ankle), SLB Josh Hull (knee)

Doubtful: CB Kevin Dockery (hamstring)

Questionable: CB Justin King (hamstring), DT Clifton Ryan (migraine)

Probable: RB Steven Jackson (knee), DT Fred Robbins (foot), WR Laurent Robinson (ankle), DT Darell Scott (knee)

RAIDERS OFFENSE VS RAMS DEFENSE

The Rams held the Cardinals to 17 points last weekend, but make no mistake: this is a St. Louis defense that is hurting.

Literally.

The Rams are down to five healthy linebackers and only three cornerbacks on their roster. The Cardinals realized this and started using four-receiver sets against the Rams, who were then forced to use linebackers and safeties in coverage.

The Raiders are not ill equipped to take advantage of the injured Rams, but the passing attack didn't impress anyone last weekend against the Titans.

Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey combined for only five catches and 39 yards last Sunday. TE Zach Miller was nearly nonexistent in the first half and finished with only 43 yards receiving on just four catches.

As impressive as Darren McFadden was last week, the Raiders need to revert back to their old ways and throw the ball down field. Don't be surprised to see offensive coordinator Hue Jackson take some shots down the field. If there were any team to throw deep against, these Rams are it. Like what the Cardinals did against the Rams, expect the Raiders to show some four-receiver sets.

With Michael Bush listed as questionable, Darren McFadden is the main man once more. The strength of the Rams defense is definitely their defensive front. They're a physical team that likes to clog this up at the line. With McFadden being more of an east-west runner than a north-south guy, the Raiders would be wide to spread out the field and use their superior speed.

Ultimately, as always, it comes down to the line. Robert Gallery is unlikely to play and that's a big blow to the unit. Furthermore, Head Coach Tom Cable has yet to announce his starter at center, either Jared Veldheer or Samson Satele, so that will be a game-time decision. The physicality of the Rams line will pose a problem to the Raiders. Plain and simple, if the Raiders are going to exploit the Rams injured secondary, Jason Campbell will need even more time to throw than he got against the Titans—which wasn't much at all.

Advantage: RAIDERS

RAIDERS DEFENSE VS RAMS OFFENSE

If you are a member of the Raiders front seven right now, you got to be licking your chops.

Rookie quarterbacks warrant such a response, don't they?

Sam Bradford, this year's first overall pick, makes his road debut in Oakland. Bradford said that he was well aware of the Coliseum's notoriety and that he was looking forward to having some fun in Oakland.

Steve Spagnuolo showed that he isn't afraid to give the reigns of his offense to a rookie quarterback. Against the Cardinals, Bradford threw for 253 yards on an astounding 55 pass attempts—the third highest total in Rams history.

However, as he is still just a rookie, Bradford threw for only one touchdown and three interceptions. Talking to the media this week, Bradford acknowledged the presence of Raiders Pro Bowl corner Nnamdi Asomugha and said that in order to avoid costly turnovers, Asomugha is a guy to always be aware of.

So, we know Bradford is smart and can say the right things.

Still, if it walks like a rookie and talks like a rookie, the Raiders defense should treat him accordingly. That means, pressure, pressure and just for good measure, even more pressure.

The Raiders will play their usual man coverage, but with the added pressure from the pass rush, that should provide the secondary with a few opportunities for picks. As the Raiders have done in the preseason and against the Titans, they have shown unique front packages by moving guys inside, outside and playing back or with their hands on the ground. Here is a game where hybrid DE/LBs Kamerion Wimbley, Quentin Groves and Trevor Scott can really make an impact. Of course, the elephant in the room is running back Steven Jackson.

Jackson is one of the better backs in the league, and on of the few remaining feature backs without a real running partner. He's a big, physical and punishing runner, so he provides a different look than the speedy Johnson.

The Rams know the Raiders are weak in run defense so they will attack and exploit that. Expect Jackson to have anywhere between 25 to 32 carries. If the Raiders can hold him to 100 yards, consider it a victory.

Ultimately, with a rookie quarterback making his road debut in a hostile environment, expect a good number of turnovers that go the Raiders way.

Advantage: RAIDERS

SPECIAL TEAMS

Josh Brown is the Rams kicker while Donnie Jones handles punts. Danny Amendola was one of the few bright spots last year for the Rams as he emerged as a legitimate dual threat on kickoff and punt returns. He is the lead man for both with rookie Mardy Gilyard backing him up.

For the Raiders, the biggest news on special teams was the release of Yamon Figurs. Johnnie Lee Higgins will take over on punt returns while rookie Jacoby Ford will be the deep-man on kickoffs behind Rock Cartwright.

Advantage: RAIDERS

OUTCOME

Again, the Rams have been the worst team in the NFL for the past three seasons. They are taking the right steps in building the organization back up, but they are still yet young.

The Raiders should win this game somewhat easily. Steven Jackson will be their biggest foe, but with a rookie quarterback at the helm of an offense that lacks few other playmakers, the defense should spark the way.

RAIDERS, 27-17.

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