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Rams & Raiders under the lights at SoFi Stadium on Thursday Night Football | Week 14 Game Preview

Not since November of 1994 have the Raiders and Rams met in Southern California.

Through their ties to Los Angeles, the rivalry feels far deeper than the 14 games between them dating back to 1972.

So this week, associate video producer Phillip Laborde – who has done an admirable job, along with associate producer Yusuf Rowser, delivering these works of art during a trying season – came up with an idea to draw inspiration from "The Autumn Wind."

Cemented in Raider lore, the poem was written by former NFL Films President and co-founder Steve Sabol and narrated by John Facenda back in 1974. I really enjoyed getting reacquainted with a unique piece of league history.

But here's to the future of Los Angeles being drenched in Royal and Sol.

Moral Victory Streak

The Rams have lost six in a row since the bye, as you're well aware. However, in each of their last two outings, there have been real positive takeaways – what could only be described as "moral victories," a phrase which athlete and coach utilize sparingly and immediately discard.

Most recently, in their last-second loss to the Seahawks, the Rams enjoyed career performances from receivers Brandon Powell and Tutu Atwell, defensive tackle Bobby Brown III, repositioned edge Michael Hoecht, and even Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Wagner, who had his first game with multiple sacks and an interception.

I loved the Super Bowl LVI-esque block tight end Brycen Hopkins delivered to spring John Wolford for a first down run on fourth-and-two in the fourth quarter.

It was refreshing to see cornerback Cobie Durant's diving pass breakup late, his first impact play since his breakout debut in Week 2 against the Falcons. Rookie safety Russ Yeast hit like his mentor Nick Scott, and I thought was wrongly penalized for a personal foul.

In a season marred by injury depletion, individuals thriving in expanded opportunities are where the remaining hope in 2022 rests. In that respect, there hasn't been a more encouraging performance than Week 13's defeat.

The Rams have earned the right to convert those good vibes into a long-awaited win to reinforce their progress.

Atwell Wishes

Let's add that if nothing else comes from this final month besides true clarity on Tutu Atwell's abilities and future role, that still can be classified as a success.

In the run and pass game, he was a difference maker. He is the fastest player on the roster. And in a fraction of the opportunity (16 percent, to be exact), he's authored as many plays of 30-plus yards as Cooper Kupp in 2022. With slightly better footwork, Atwell should have two touchdowns in a total of 12 targets on the season.

The 2023 Rams will be far more potent if Atwell is a threat to run the whole playbook and is on the field for half the offensive snaps as he has been the past two weeks.

Just Joshing

The Rams didn't have to contend with the full force of Seattle's running game, with Kenneth Walker shaken up early and D.J. Dallas hobbled, as well. Playing without Aaron Donald for the first time, that was a welcomed reprieve. After the initial 30-yard romp by Walker, the Seahawks gained just 60 yards on the ground the rest of the way (never mind the passing stats, for now).

But Thursday figures to be a chin-strap contest against the NFL's leading rusher. Josh Jacobs is rolling into free agency at 5.4 yards per carry with double-digit touchdowns, on pace to set Raiders rushing records.

Jacobs singlehandedly has more rushing yards (1,303) and rushing scores (10) than the entire Rams roster, combined, just to underscore the point.

And yes, after surrendering a season-high 348 yards to Geno Smith's passing attack, All-Pro Davante Adams gives the Rams plenty to fret over between now and Thursday evening.

Likewise, Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones in pass protection.

But as much (or maybe more) than any individual matchup, the Rams will have to guard against human nature.

Now What?

On a short week, with a losing season mathematically guaranteed, and facing a Raider Nation invasion, this becomes a real test for Los Angeles.

A must-win with Matthew Stafford returning to the huddle had the Rams ramped up for a trip to New Orleans; they led at the half.

Bryce Perkins' first start and the desire to help him succeed helped the Rams rally for a trip to Arrowhead in Week 12; they held Patrick Mahomes and the NFL's top offense to one touchdown in six red zone visits.

Bobby Wagner's first game against Seattle was enough to electrify the locker room in Week 13; the Rams drove for a go-ahead touchdown with 2:56 remaining in regulation.

Where do the Rams look for a jolt now? How disciplined and resilient can they remain through the tumult of Week 14, if and when the Raiders make a big play?

This sport is hard enough when everything's on the line. It can be surprisingly rejuvenating when there's nothing to lose, as well. The Rams have experienced both extremes this season.

Now they're somewhere in the gray area with the Silver and Black up next.

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