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Chargers-Raiders Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Odds, trends, pick

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Chargers-Raiders Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Odds, trends, pick

In an AFC West showdown, the Raiders (7-6) will host the Chargers (4-9) at Allegiant Stadium for the final Thursday Night Football game of 2020. The Raiders are listed as -3 favorites (-170 ML), and the over/under has settled at a whopping 53.5 total points.

These divisional foes have a lot to be optimistic about long-term, but both probably feel some disappointment over their 2020 campaigns. The Chargers have their quarterback of the future, No. 6 overall pick Justin Herbert, but L.A. has been ravaged by injuries this season. Meanwhile, the Raiders are just four weeks removed from a 6-3 record, but they have struggled in the second half of the season, losing three of their past four games.

WEEK 15 PICKS ADVICE: Pick ’em/Surivor Pools

The Chargers will be battling for a respectable final record, while the Raiders will be fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. Let’s take a look at which team seems likely to prevail, with a comprehensive betting preview and BetQL’s full predictions against the spread, on the moneyline, and on the over/under.

TNF INJURIES: Ekeler | Allen | Williams

Chargers Outlook

In just one offseason, the Chargers franchise has undergone two massive changes. They moved into a new home, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California, and they moved on from 16-year QB Philip Rivers, drafting 6-6, 236-pound Oregon stud Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick.

In 12 games, Herbert has thrown for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns. He has completed 66.3 percent of his pass attempts, thrown just 10 interceptions, and maintained a QB rating of 94.7. His record keeps him from comparisons to some of the greatest rookie QBs in NFL history, but his stats do not. He’s on track to break the rookie record for TD passes, which would see him eclipse the likes of Baker Mayfield (27 in 2018), Peyton Manning (26, 1998), and Russell Wilson (26, 2012). If he had started Week 1, he also would have had an outside shot of Andrew Luck’s rookie-season record of 4,367 yards.

But there will always be ifs, such as what if Austin Ekeler had been able to suit up for the six games he was so sorely missed? The third-year back had 146 all-purpose yards last week, helping Herbert to his third win as a starter. Ekeler is listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a quad injury, but he’s expected to play.

What if L.A. had its defense at full strength this season? All-Pro safety Derwin James has missed the entire season with a torn meniscus. Defensive end Melvin Ingram has missed a handful of games and now finds himself in his second IR stint of the season with a knee injury. Stud defensive end Joey Bosa, defensive tackle Justin Jones, and cornerback Chris Harris Jr. have also battled injuries throughout the season. Two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward has also missed time, and linebackers Uchenna Nwosu (back/shoulder) and Emeke Egbule (illness) will likely both miss tonight’s game.

These injury woes have affected L.A.’s consistency, especially in the second halves of games. The Chargers rank 26th in points allowed, and over 60 percent of the points they have surrendered have come after halftime. Perhaps most frustrating, they have held opponents to the seventh-fewest passing yards in the NFL, yet rank 24th in passing TDs allowed. Their rushing defense and third-down defense have been awful all season, and a date with Raiders back Josh Jacobs (48 rushing first downs, fifth in NFL) and tight end Darren Waller (19 first-down catches on third downs this season, second in NFL) probably won’t help those trends.

L.A.’s D stepped up against the Falcons last week, forcing three turnovers and limiting Matt Ryan’s offense to 17 points. It was the first time since Week 1 that the Chargers held an opponent to under 21 points. They had surrendered an average of 30.2 points between Week 2 and Week 13, capped off by a 45-0 stomping by the Patriots at home two weeks ago.

If the defense shows up to play again tonight — and avoids further injury — they have a good chance to compete with Herbert and the weapons around him. When healthy, Ekeler is one of the most dynamic dual-purpose backs in football, and three-time Pro Bowl receiver Keenan Allen continues to distinguish himself as one of the best, making nearly every leaderboard with 99 catches, 975 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns on the season. He also leads the league with 27 first-down catches on third downs, eight more than any other receiver. Allen is questionable with a hamstring injury this evening, but if he and Ekeler can suit up, they’ll definitely be helping to put points on the board.

The Chargers are 1-5 on the road and 0-4 as visiting underdogs this season, but they do have .500 records against the spread both on the road and as road ‘dogs. They might not beat the Raiders, but they definitely won’t go down without a fight.

MORE TNF: DK Showdown lineup | FD Single-game lineup | Start ’em, sit ’em

Raiders Outlook

The Raiders also have a new place to call home this season: Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. They started their tenure in Vegas impressively, posting a 6-3 record thanks to steady quarterbacking leadership by Derek Carr and great seasons from the aforementioned Jacobs and Waller. But the Raiders have stumbled a bit lately, losing three of their past four games and experiencing some injury issues of their own.

The Raiders still have a good shot at finishing strong and making the AFC Playoffs, with the Chargers, Dolphins, and Broncos closing out their schedule (the first two of which are on prime-time TV). If they do make the playoffs, it will almost assuredly be thanks to Carr. The veteran is on pace for his third-consecutive 4,000-yard season, and he has completed 68.2 percent of his passes. He has 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions (1.6-percent INT rate), and a 102.1 QB rating.

The steady presence of both Jacobs and Waller have helped Carr immensely. Jacobs, who has battled hip injuries and now an ankle ailment, ranks third in the AFC with 831 rushing yards and second among AFC RBs with nine touchdowns. Waller ranks seventh in the NFL (and second among TEs) with 84 catches, and he’s third at the position with seven TD grabs. Offseason acquisition Nelson Agholor, who was cast away from Philly for dropping too many balls, has been the offensive surprise of the season for Jon Gruden’s team. The veteran receiver has seven touchdowns and a 16.7-yards-per-reception average.

Offense has really never been an issue for this team in 2020. If you take away the six-point dud Vegas put up in Atlanta three weeks ago, this team has averaged 28.6 points and 379.8 total yards per game. It’s the other side of the ball that has been the problem, which led to the recent termination of defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. New DC Rod Marinelli inherits a squad that has given up the third-most points and the second-most rushing scores. Vegas ranks 25th in total yards allowed, 27th in first downs surrendered, and 29th in third-down defense.

Making matters worse, the Raiders will be without five defensive starters tonight. Second-year defensive end Clelin Ferrell will be out with a shoulder injury, and linebacker Nicholas Morrow, cornerback Damon Arnette, and safety Johnathan Abram will all be out with concussions. Defensive tackle Maliek Collins has been on injured reserve with a hamstring injury since early December.

The Raiders are 3-3 against the spread at home, but they won and covered the only home game in which they were favored. Their only loss to a losing squad all season was to the Falcons in Week 12. Gruden and offensive coordinator Greg Olson should have this offense ready to go tonight, but it’s Marinelli’s injury-ravaged defense that serves as the crapshoot in Vegas for this one.

WEEK 15 FANTASY PPR RANKINGS: 
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Prediction

With both of these teams banged up defensively, I’m taking the OVER both at the half (26.5) and on the total (53.5) this evening. These offenses have far too many weapons for this to end up a low-scoring affair, especially with so many key injuries on both defensive units. Based on execution, experience, and coaching, I’ll be rolling with the Raiders at home in a game they must win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

The BetQL Best Bet Model at least partially agrees, putting a two-star rating on the Raiders moneyline at halftime (-150) and at the end of the game (-170). The Model also lists the OVER at the half as a two-star rating, but it recommends shying away from the end-game total, labeling it a low-value bet. As for the spread, the Model puts two stars on the Chargers covering +2 at the half and one star on L.A. covering the +3 for the game.

I love our Model, but I respectfully disagree with its take on both the over/under and the Chargers covering the three points they are getting. Carr and his arsenal of weapons have handled the overwhelming majority of poor teams they have faced, and even outdueled the likes of Patrick Mahomes and Drew Brees this season. Vegas also beat L.A. 31-26 in these teams’ first meeting of the season at SoFi in Week 9. I’m taking the Raiders 33-27.

You can find all updated lines, odds, spreads, and NFL picks at BetQL!

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Patrick Mahomes’ mom was not pleased with hit that injured QB: ‘Trash football’

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Patrick Mahomes' mom was not pleased with hit that injured QB: 'Trash football'

There’s nothing like a mother’s love — or a mother’s scorn.

Randi Mahomes, mother of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, was like all viewers watching the QB struggling to get to his feet on Sunday afternoon: concerned, worried and a little angry by Mahomes’ departure from the field.

But momma Mahomes took it a step further and took to Twitter to question the hit that sidelined her son — and berate the player who made it in the same 240 characters:

“#51 Wilson that’s some trash football leading with helmet, pulling his head and pushing helmet.. why are you not thrown out!?? Come on NFL,” the tweet reads.

MORE: Could superstar QB Deshaun Watson be on the move? What you need to know

Mahomes took a hit from linebacker Mack Wilson that left him woozy and wobbly as he tried to get to his feet, eventually needing help from KC medical staff to get off the field. Mahomes would enter concussion protocol and his status for this Sunday’s matchup vs. the Bills is uncertain.

There was no flag on the play, as it was unclear what rule, if any, Wilson violated on the hit. Slow motion replays revealed that Wilson’s helmet made contact with Mahomes’ shoulder pads. Most viewers chalked up the incident to just playing football.

Mahomes didn’t harbor any ill will toward Wilson, who reached out to apologize after the game:

The Chiefs would go on to win on Sunday with heroics from backup QB Chad Henne, who helped punch Kansas City’s ticket to the AFC Championship game.

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Deshaun Watson trade tracker: Timeline of rumors, dysfunction detail Texans’ rift with franchise QB

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Deshaun Watson trade tracker: Timeline of rumors, dysfunction detail Texans' rift with franchise QB

Not so elementary, my dear Watson.

The yearslong odyssey for the Texans to find a true franchise passer culminated in Houston selecting the Deshaun Watson out of Clemson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but it looks like the pairing will soon come to an end, with tumult surrounding the quarterback and the franchise leading to lots of smoke and trade rumors.

With organizational chaos dooming the Texans the past two seasons, and ownership reportedly over-relying on the voice and opinions of Jack Easterby and reportedly completely ignoring the voice of Watson, it’s hard to fault Watson for wanting out. He’s a top-five quarterback coming off his best season, still young and with a contract that will prove to be a bargain in a few years.

Total organizational instability — from the top down — has led Watson to, reportedly, being incredibly pissed off and ready to move on from the team that drafted him in 2017. Here’s a timeline of reports and other rumors that detail the interworkings of the Texans organization and Watson’s displeasure with the situation.

MORE: Here are Deshaun Watson’s best trade fits, from Jets to Dolphins

(Getty Images)

Deshaun Watson trade rumors

Jan. 18: Watson likes Instagram post linking him to Jets

Source: Instagram detectives

We’ve officially reached the “NBA drama” stage of Watson trade rumors, with Instagram users discovering that Watson liked a post of a New York Post back page with a story suggesting the Jets should trade for him. No trade requests have been made yet.

Jan. 18: Texans have no interest in dealing Watson, Panthers interested

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Texans have no interest in trading Watson, instead wanting to keep him. Multiple teams, including the Panthers, have called Houston to gauge interest in the passer.

Jan. 18: Watson not answering calls from Texans organization

Source: Sarah Barshop, ESPN

According to Texans beat writer Sarah Barshop, Watson can’t be bothered to answer calls from Texans brass. Adam Schefter also reiterates what we already knew: Watson holds leverage here because of his no-trade clause.

Jan. 18: ‘Great lather’ to get Watson out, but leverage in his favor

Source: Josina Anderson, ESPN

Anderson reminds everyone a key point: Watson has a no-trade clause, and it’s not entirely in the Texans’ best interest to trade away a superstar of Watson’s caliber. In any case, it’s a weak argument, especially if the team is going to continue to do poorly by its star player.

Jan. 18: Watson has yet to ask for a trade

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network

Despite all the smoke surrounding Watson and the Texans at the moment, the superstar QB has yet to ask for a trade, per Rapoport. That hasn’t stopped teams from calling to check on Watson’s availability, though, 

Jan. 17: Watson has ‘played his last snap for Houston’

Source: Adam Schefter/Chris Mortensen, ESPN

If the weeks of turmoil and confusion have left any doubt about Watson’s future in Houston, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that some people surrounding the Texans organization feel Watson won’t play another down for the team. A source close to Chris Mortensen added that the only remedy for the situation between Watson and the Texans would be for owner Cal McNair to fire … Cal McNair.

Schefter also added that “Watson’s feelings cannot and should not be underestimated.” Whatever that means.

(Getty Images)

Jan. 16: Watson ‘just wants out’ of Houston

Source: Greg Bishop, Jenny Vrentas, Sports Illustrated

Despite the Texans making moves to try and appease their disgruntled quarterback, Watson just wants out of H-Town, per SI. A culmination of the coaching and GM search and general organizational dysfunction has led to Watson taking a hard stance on his status with the team: Just get me out of here.

Jan. 15: A single tweet sets NFL world on fire

Source: Deshaun Watson’s Twitter

Coming from a Schefter report that Watson’s anger was “at a 2, but now a 10,” the Texans QB sends out a single tweet that seems to confirm this. A later tweet would actually indicate that these were actually song lyrics. (Sure, Deshaun.)

MORE: Deshaun Watson’s latest tweet sends Twitter back into trade frenzy

Jan. 15: Watson photographed in Falcons gear

Source: Instagram

A curious wardrobe decision by Watson, with a photo on an Instagram story showing Watson in a Falcons jacket, coincidentally, outside of a building in New York City. Watson is a Georgia native and likely grew up a Falcons fan.

It’s just a jacket, but let your imagination run wild.

Jan. 12: Texans request interview for Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy

Source: Ian Rapoport, NFL Network

The Chiefs OC is a hot commodity on the coaching scene, and was even recommended to Watson by some guy named Patrick Mahomes. While the Chiefs hadn’t initially put in an interview with Bieniemy — missing the window in which coordinators can interview during the playoffs — new GM Nick Caserio is interested in speaking with him. Because of tampering policies, the Texans won’t be allowed to speak with Bieniemy until after the Chiefs are eliminated.

Jan. 12: Andre Johnson speaks, offers Watson advice

Source: Andre Johnson via Twitter

In the words of Deandre Hopkins, when ‘Dre speaks, we listen. The former Texans wide receiver took to Twitter to offer Watson some sage advice: Stand your ground. He also roasted the Texans and their devotion to Jack Easterby, who many question 

MORE: Andre Johnson thinks Deshaun Watson is right to turn on ‘pathetic’ Texans

Jan. 10: Watson’s anger reaching boiling point

Source: Adam Schefter, ESPN

Heads exploded when then head coach/GM Bill O’Brien opted to trade star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, with Watson himself taking the trade in stride. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Watson’s anger vaulted from a “2 to a 10” with the organization opting not to hire ESPN analyst and former front-office exec Louis Riddick to its GM role.

Jan. 10: More details emerge about rift; Dolphins could be a trade destination

Source: Chris Mortensen, ESPN

If Watson were to be moved, then the Dolphins could be a viable destination for a trade, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Miami, who holds Houston’s first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, would reportedly be open to trading quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and trade assets in exchange for Watson, per Mortensen.

(Getty Images)

Jan. 7: The Texans name Nick Caserio new GM

Source: “Literally us, the  Houston Texans.”

A major part of the reported rift between Watson and the Texans surrounded Houston naming a general manager without Watson’s input, a promise that had been supposedly made to Watson during the season. Instead, owner Cal McNair Jr. and Jack Easterby.

MORE: Ranking the NFL’s head-coaching vacancies

Jan. 5: J.J. Watt offers an ominous apology 

Source: JJ Watt’s mouth

After the Texans fell in Week 17 to the Titans in Week 17, NFL cams caught JJ Watt and Deshaun Watson in a candid moment as the two were walking off the field. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” Watt said. “We wasted one of your years.” The Texans would finish 4-12.

Oct. 5: Texans fire Bill O’Brien

Source: “Literally us, the  Houston Texans.”

Well, about a year, many losses and one too many trades too late, the Texans decided to fire head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien after a sluggish start to their 2020 season. The team would name Romeo Crennel the interim head coach.

O’Brien’s tenure as HC would be mired in personnel controversies and several lopsided trades that leave the Texans without a first-round pick in 2021. 

April 2019: Jack Easterby hired by Houston

Source: The Texans

“I think the best way to tell the story is by starting at the end, briefly, then going back to the beginning, and then periodically returning to the end, maybe giving different characters’ perspectives throughout.” — “The Other Guys,” 2010

Arguably the genesis of the chaos in Houston was the hiring of Patriots team chaplain — later “character coach,” whatever that is — as its executive vice president of football operations.

Easterby’s meteoric rise to a such a high office in an NFL franchise is met with skepticism from all avenues, and would come back to haunt the team later.

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Mets fire Jared Porter after report that GM sent lewd texts to reporter in 2016

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Mets fire Jared Porter after report that GM sent lewd texts to reporter in 2016

The Mets have fired general manager Jared Porter after an ESPN report released Monday detailed lewd, harrassing and inappropriate text messages sent to a foreign reporter in 2016.

New Mets owner Steve Cohen took to Twitter to announce the news, referencing the “importance of integrity” from his introductory press conference with the team.

“We have terminated Jared Porter this morning,” Cohen’s tweet reads. “In my initial press conference I spoke about the importance of integrity and I meant it. There should be zero tolerance for this type of behavior.”

On Jan. 19, ESPN’s Mina Kimes and Jeff Passan reported that Porter sent 60 text messages to a foreign correspondent covering the Cubs when Porter was a member of Chicago’s front office in 2016. The messages included an image of a bare penis. Porter declined to comment on the report.

The reporter, who has now left the journalism field according to ESPN, did not come forward out of fear of her career being harmed and repercussions in her home country.

“My No. 1 motivation is I want to prevent this from happening to someone else,” she told ESPN. “Obviously, he’s in a much greater position of power. I want to prevent that from happening again. The other thing is, I never really got the notion that he was truly sorry.”

Porter had apologized to the reporter for the messages in 2016 after realizing they were “extremely inappropriate, very offensive, and getting out of line.”

Porter told ESPN on Monday that he had texted with the woman but said that “the more explicit ones are not of me. Those are like, kinda like joke-stock images.”

Porter, 41, was hired by the Mets in December. He had been with the Diamondbacks prior to taking the Mets job.

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