Monday Night Football Picks: Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders
When the New York Jets traded Teddy Bridgewater to New Orleans during the preseason and it became clear that No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold was going to be Gang Green's starter in the opener of the Week 1 Monday doubleheader in Detroit, my inclination was to preview the Jets-Lions game. I try to cover as many teams as possible during the season for these Sunday games, and I'm somewhat doubting I'll have much interest in either of those two the rest of the way unless obligated when they play on Thursday or Monday nights.
Darnold, incidentally, will be the only rookie QB Week 1 starter, keeping alive a streak of at least one in the NFL since 2008. Entering camp, it looked like that streak might end. Darnold also will be the youngest-ever Week 1 starting QB.
However, I've chosen to go with the nightcap MNF game of Rams-Raiders for a couple of reasons. First, the fact that those of us on the East Coast get late-night NFL action is awesome. The Week 1 Monday late game is the only time it happens; I believe there should be a weekly late-night game so the West Coast also gets a prime-time affair. Maybe when the new CBA is up. The main reason, though, in picking this game was how differently the Rams and Raiders treated the last two NFL Defensive Players of the Year when it came to contract negotiations.
Rams at Raiders Betting Story Lines
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is one of the richest men in the world. Raiders owner Mark Davis, son of team founder Al, is reportedly "only" worth about $500 million and is a bit cash-poor right now with the team's move to Las Vegas in two years and all that entails in building a stadium, practice facilities, etc.
I'm not saying it's that simple why the Rams made 2017 Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald the highest-paid defensive player in league history and the Raiders opted to simply trade 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack to Chicago (which then gave Mack slightly more than Donald got) for future draft picks instead of paying him like Donald. But it might be. Frankly, the Raiders seem to be planning already for their Vegas days and punting on this season - no matter what Jon Gruden says. "Chucky" seems to be living in the past in terms of his roster makeup as it's the oldest in the NFL and made up of past-their-prime former big names like Jordy Nelson, Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin. Just two years ago, this looked like a franchise on the rise. Things change quickly in the NFL.
Donald didn't play at all this preseason in his successful holdout, but he'll be in there Monday. Coach Sean McVay didn't play most of his key offensive guys at all in the exhibition games, including Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. L.A. is without starting guard Jamon Brown for the first two games due to suspension.
The Rams look absolutely loaded after adding receiver Brandin Cooks, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib and defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh. Donald and Suh could be the most formidable pair of tackles in history, and that's not hyperbole. This team basically has a two-year window to win with this roster with all the extensions given out. Why two years? That's when Goff will be eligible to be paid big money off his rookie deal, assuming he continues his rise, and QB salaries wreck the rest of a roster. Ask the Ravens (Joe Flacco) or trending downward Seahawks (Russell Wilson).
Rams at Raiders Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Los Angeles is a 4-point favorite (-110) with a total of 49.5. On the moneyline, the rams are -210 and Raiders +175. On the current alternate lines, the Rams are -4.5 (-103) and -3.5 (-118). L.A. was 9-8 against the spread last season including playoffs (5-3 on road) and 11-6 "over/under" (7-1 on road). Oakland was 5-9-2 ATS (3-3-1 at home - one game in Mexico) and 5-11 O/U (3-4 O/U).
The Rams are 1-6 ATS in their past seven on Monday. The Raiders are 4-1-1 ATS in their past four on Monday and 6-2 ATS in their previous eight in September. The over is 5-1 in L.A.'s past six. It's 7-3 in Oakland's past 10 in September. The Rams have covered four straight in the series.
Rams at Raiders Betting Prediction
I really don't like taking road favorites in the first place in Week 1 and especially giving more than a field goal. However, I don't see any way that the Raiders are nearly as good as the Rams - and I think the players are going to still be deflated on Monday knowing that ownership traded away the team's best all-around player. Take L.A. (I likely will use the eventual 2.5-point alternate line) and the over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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