Both the Rams and the Raiders took a lot of risks this offseason, and they may have ended up in very different places. The Rams went out and traded for Brandin Cooks on offense and Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib on defense. Then, they signed Ndamukong Suh to bolster the defensive line. The Raiders, meanwhile, traded Khalil Mack -- who was holding out for a new contract -- for draft capital. The Rams dealt with a holdout of their own, but finally signed Aaron Donald to an extension last week.
The Rams enter this season as a complete and total enigma. With this much talent on one squad, it's impossible to predict how it will all coalesce. Brandin Cooks joins Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods in the Rams' receiving corps, while Todd Gurley will try to replicate his fantastic 2017 season. On defense, Peters, Talib and Suh will join an already good unit led by Donald, Michael Brockers and LaMarcus Joyner. The team offered up nothing in the preseason, barely playing any of its starters (even in the dress rehearsal), so Monday night is the first time we will see any of the fruits of the Rams' experiment.
Losing Mack is a tough blow for the Raiders, so they'll have to bounce back and show fans that this team wants to compete soon. Marshawn Lynch returns as the Raiders' running back, while Derek Carr is looking to get back to his 2016 form after an up-and-down 2017 season. Jordy Nelson joins Amari Cooper in the receiving corps with the departure of Michael Crabtree. Defensively, Arden Key could become a valuable pass-rushing specialist for the Raiders, and Chiefs fans should avert their eyes as Derrick Johnson will don the silver and black. The real story for the Rams, of course, is on the sideline. Jon Gruden's playcalling will be broken down on Tuesday morning, as people see just how he's going to manage this Raiders team.
So who should you back in Week 1 of the NFL season? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from the model that has outperformed 98 percent of experts tracked by NFLPickWatch.com the past two seasons.
Here's how to catch Monday night's Rams vs. Raiders showdown.
How to watch, stream
- Kickoff: Moday, Sept. 10, 10:20 p.m. ET
- TV: ESPN (Check local listings)
- Streaming: WatchESPN
Who will win?
The Rams have the clear edge in talent, but who knows how all of that talent will gel in Week 1 -- especially with limited preseason reps. CBSSports.com, however, still feels good about the Rams' chances against the Raiders. Every analyst except for one has the Rams coming out on top, with only Will Brinson predicting the upset. Pete Prisco has the Raiders keeping it close, but the Rams winning it on the road. Jon Gruden has his work cut out for him in his opener.
You can catch all of CBS's expert NFL picks right here.