Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch sits during national anthem

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem ahead of the team’s season opener.

Lynch declined to stand for the anthem before a game against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. Lynch also sat for the anthem all of last season but never gave a reason for his decision.

No other players on either team demonstrated during the anthem. Only a handful of players took some sort of action to protest police brutality and social injustice in America on opening weekend.

The league and the players’ union have yet to announce a policy for this season regarding demonstrations during the anthem after the league initially ordered everyone to stand on the sideline when “The Star-Spangled Banner” is played, or remain in the locker room.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFLfootball and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

NFL Week 15: Over and Under Best Bets

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we're making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we're offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of

This NFL season, with sports betting expected to be a more common and accepted practice, we’re making a point to look beyond point spreads and analyze often-neglected totals. As part of that approach, we’re offering up our favorite bet over and favorite under each week. 

Over and Under Best Bets

Over of the week: Tennessee Titans at New York Giants

Total: 43.5

The Titans and Giants don’t scream OFFENSE, which is why this total remains below the season average. But look closely.

The Titans have scored 56 points in their last two games, and they’re well-rested following a Thursday Night Football romp in Week 14. Those two high-scoring performances came at home, but if we’re considering sites it should be noted that Tennessee has also allowed 72 points on defense in its last two road games.

Meanwhile, the Giants offense has exploded since their Week 9 bye. Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham Jr. have often been unstoppable for a team that has averaged 31.4 points per game dating back to Week 10. Sure, they surrendered just 16 points last Sunday in Washington, but that was more about the Redskins’ problems than New York’s defensive prowess. The Giants have still allowed 25.1 points per game during that post-bye run.

And they scored 40 in D.C. despite not having Beckham, who should be good to return from a quad injury on Sunday.

Look for both teams to easily hit the 20-point mark in Week 15.

Predicted score: Giants 30, Titans 27

Under of the week: Dallas Cowboys at Indianapolis Colts

Total: 47

Why in the world do oddsmakers think the Cowboys and Colts will combine for 47 points Sunday in Indianapolis? Both defenses have been stout, while both offenses have lacked consistency.

The Dallas D hasn’t surrendered more than 23 points in five consecutive weeks, and that’s a stretch that includes matchups with talented offenses like Philadelphia, New Orleans and Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Colts D has allowed just 17.1 points per game in their last seven outings, with Jabaal Sheard, Darius Leonard and Margus Hunt killing it.

It’s true that both offenses have the ability to explode at any moment, but this doesn’t look like the time or place. Both teams should be tight for an important game, the Colts are two weeks removed from a zero-point performance in Jacksonville, and the Cowboys’ bread-and-butter offensive line is dealing with multiple injuries to key players.

This should be a tense, low-scoring battle.

Predicted score: Colts 20, Cowboys 17

Good luck, we’re all counting on you. 

Previous results
Last week: 1-1
2018 season: 18-9-1

Brad Gagnon has covered the NFL since 2007 and is a member of the Professional Football Writers of America, despite the fact he actually lives in Canada. The Toronto-based sports journalist’s work can also be seen at Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, Awful Announcing and The Guardian. He can be found on Twitter @brad_gagnon

Read More 360 Words

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

Broncos, Browns on playoff fringe ahead of matchup

The Denver Broncos were high on quarterback Baker Mayfield long before he was taken first overall in the NFL draft in April.

They plan to keep him from beating them on Saturday night.

Mayfield, the brash, outspoken Cleveland Browns rookie, visits Denver for a Week 15 showdown with both teams clinging to their slim postseason hopes. The Browns (5-7-1) are having their best season in years and are coming off a 26-20 win over Carolina.

The Broncos (6-7) had their three-game winning streak ended at San Francisco on Sunday in a game they desperately needed. Denver was feeling good after getting back to .500 and into the thick of the wild-card race, but as has been the case this season, it struggled against a young quarterback.

The Broncos have lost to rookies Sam Darnold (New York Jets), Nick Mullens (49ers) and second-year star Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City). They did they beat Josh Rosen of Arizona and Jeff Driskel of Cincinnati, and they have another chance against Mayfield on Saturday.

“He’s got a neat personality,” Denver coach Vance Joseph said after practice Tuesday. “It’s kind of a — it’s loose, but it’s tight. Very, very intelligent, but a very, very confident person.”

Mayfield could find success against a banged-up secondary that will be without Pro Bowl cornerback Chris Harris Jr., who suffered a fractured left fibula against the Bengals on Dec. 2. Harris said he is improving, but he won’t be ready for Saturday.

Without him, and the status of Tramaine Brock (ribs) and Isaac Yiadom (separated right shoulder) in question, Denver is vulnerable on the back end. The Broncos signed rookie safety Trey Marshall off the practice squad Tuesday to add to the depth.

The Browns have the weapons to take advantage, with Mayfield showing plenty of poise and wide receiver Jarvis Landry running routes. They can mix things up with running back Nick Chubb.

The biggest turnaround for Cleveland has come after the firings of head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Gregg Williams is now the interim head coach, and Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator.

With Kitchens calling plays, Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdown passes in five games, and his quarterback rating is 114.4 compared to from 78.9 under Haley.

With the short week, both teams practiced Tuesday instead of having a regular day off. For Denver, linebacker Shaquil Barrett (hip), Harris, wide receiver Courtland Sutton (quadriceps), Yiadom and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe (concussion) did not practice.

Joseph said Sutton should play Saturday but didn’t have an update on Wolfe.

Tight end Orson Charles (ankle), tackle Austin Corbett (foot), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps), cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) and center J.C. Tretter (ankle) did not practice for Cleveland. Tretter has been dealing with the ankle injury for two months but has battled through the last seven games. He is normally held out of practice to stay ready for games.

“From a guy who barely practices all week to have the game plan down and then fight through it on Sundays for everybody else, it is great to have,” Mayfield told The Cleveland Plain Dealer after Sunday’s game. “He is a very, very important piece out there to have to be able to make calls and direct guys the right way and lead.”

–Field Level Media

Read More 495 Words

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh

NFL notebook: Roethlisberger expects to start Sunday

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him out of action when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs. Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive.

–The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. Minnesota has finished with fewer than 300 yards of total offense four times in the past five games.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties.

–Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs, the NFL Network reported.

However, Gordon was officially limited in Tuesday’s practice, noteworthy progress considering he was unavailable entirely since the original knee injury.

NFL Network reported that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion), likely would miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. Specifically, coach Anthony Lynn told the network that the team isn’t optimistic either player would suit up.

–The Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve due to knee injuries. Both starters were hurt during Tennessee’s 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith.

–The Detroit Lions placed veteran defensive end Ziggy Ansah on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts, who also has an injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9.

–The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve.

Brown injured his collarbone earlier this month. Hatfield, primarily a special teams player, needs surgery after injuring his left ankle Sunday.

–The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult when they placed running back Corey Clement (knee) and defensive end Josh Sweat (ankle) on injured reserve.

The Eagles signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they added cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

–Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints.

Newton, 31, spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical. With the Saints, he replaces tackle Michael Ola, who went on injured reserve due to a high ankle sprain.

–The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve. Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula. Johnson had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season.

–The city of Oakland, Calif., filed a federal lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, the NFL and all other teams in the league. Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

–The NFL announced that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187 million to $191.1 million. That marks a 40 percent increase since the 2014 season ($133 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

–Field Level Media

Read More 718 Words

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

Eagles place RB Clement, DE Sweat on IR

The Philadelphia Eagles’ pursuit of a playoff spot grew more difficult Tuesday when they placed a pair of players on injured reserve, including running back Corey Clement.

Both Clement and defensive end Josh Sweat were injured Sunday in Philadelphia’s 29-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Clement hurt his knee, and Sweat sustained an ankle injury.

The Eagles announced that they signed running back Boston Scott and defensive end Daeshon Hall to fill the voids on the roster, and they signed cornerback Josh Hawkins to the practice squad.

Clement went from undrafted rookie to Super Bowl star last season, picking up 100 receiving yards and a touchdown grab in the title game. He has 259 yards and two touchdowns on 68 carries, along with 22 catches for 192 yards, in 11 games this season.

Sweat was a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft and has one tackle in nine games as a rookie.

The New Orleans Saints drafted Scott in the sixth round this year but cut him just before the season opener. They signed him to their practice squad the following day.

Hall was a third-round pick by the Carolina Panthers in 2017. He played in one game last season before a knee injury ended his rookie campaign. He was cut before this season began.

The Eagles are 6-7 and two games behind the NFC East-leading Cowboys. The defending champs are still in the thick of the playoff race, however, tied with Carolina and the Washington Redskins, one-half game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the final playoff spot in the conference.

Philadelphia finishes the season with games against the Rams in Los Angeles this weekend, then at home against the Houston Texans and at the Redskins in Week 17.

–Field Level Media

Read More 231 Words

Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

Chiefs can lock up West with win over Chargers

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and — most importantly — a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback must be on top of his game again Thursday night when the streaking Los Angeles Chargers look to tighten the AFC West division race.

Kansas City (11-2) last weekend qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time under sixth-year coach Andy Reid, using a madcap rally Mahomes engineered Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime. But after burning the NFL’s top defense entering the game for 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, the no-look pass was all the rage.

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

“I worked with him real hard on that. I built that right into the offense,” Reid cracked. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but when you start throwing it in a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that is a little different.”

Confidence oozes from Mahomes, whose plus-32 touchdown-to-interception mark leads the NFL, as do his 43 touchdown passes and 45 completions of 25-plus yards. The Chiefs average 437.5 yards and 36.2 points per game, along with 6.86 yards per play, all of which lead the league.

“I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob,” Mahomes said of Demarcus Robinson, recipient of the no-look pass, “through training camp and through last year. I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then, I put the ball out there for them.”

Los Angeles (10-3) will counter with pressure off both edges from defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Bosa was injured and missed the first matchup, a 38-28 Week 1 win for the Chiefs to account for Kansas City’s one-game lead over the Chargers.

Los Angeles has won nine of its last 10 games, including three straight. Its only road defeat was against the crosstown Rams.

Kansas City, however, has won 20 of its last 21 against AFC West rivals and is looking to secure a third consecutive division title. A better divisional record gives the Chiefs the tiebreaker over the Chargers should Los Angeles win Thursday.

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is having an exceptional season for the Chargers but may need to come up even bigger against the Chiefs. Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are dealing with injuries. Two rookies who have combined for 32 carries, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, are next in line.

“It’s important to just get back to being healthy,” said Michael Badgley, a rookie kicker who set a Chargers record with a 59-yard field goal while going 4-for-4 Sunday in a win over Cincinnati. “Get back in there, go through all of our recovery, and it will be a short week, so a big mental week.”

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill limped through a heel injury against the Ravens but is expected to be available. Another receiver, Sammy Watkins (foot) is likely out. Running back Spencer Ware (shoulder) is also hobbled.

–Field Level Media

Read More 517 Words

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar

OL Newton returns to NFL with Saints

Two years after tearing both patellar tendons on the same play, former Houston Texans offensive tackle Derek Newton is back in the NFL after signing a two-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Tuesday.

Newton, 31, suffered the devastating double injury while attempting to block All-Pro pass rusher Von Miller during a game against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 24, 2016.

He spent the entire 2017 season on the Texans’ physically unable to perform list and was released by Houston eight months ago after failing a physical.

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Newton started 68 of his 82 games with the Texans from 2011-16 after being selected in the seventh round of the 2011 draft out of Arkansas State.

The Saints had a roster vacancy after placing tackle Michael Ola on injured reserve Tuesday with a high-ankle sprain suffered in Sunday’s win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

–Field Level Media

Read More 89 Words

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

Bills place LB Milano, CB Johnson on injured reserve

The Buffalo Bills placed starting linebacker Matt Milano and rookie cornerback Taron Johnson on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday.

Milano had surgery Monday to repair a broken left fibula, suffered in the final minutes of Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the New York Jets.

The second-year player finished the season with 78 tackles, three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and one sack.

Johnson, a fourth-rounder in 2018, had surgery last week for a shoulder injury that bothered him most of the season. He had 42 tackles and one interception in 11 games.

–Field Level Media

Read More 37 Words

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

Lions put Ansah (shoulder) on IR

An injury-plagued season is now an injury-shortened season for Ziggy Ansah.

The Detroit Lions on Tuesday announced they have placed the veteran defensive end on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. The team did the same with tight end Michael Roberts and his injured shoulder.

To replace them on the roster, the Lions signed tight end Jerome Cunningham and offensive lineman Leo Koloamatangi from their practice squad.

Ansah, 29, has had a lost season while playing on the franchise tag. He hurt his shoulder after 19 snaps in Week 1 and did not play again until Week 9, though he has been effective (four sacks, seven quarterback hits) during his seven games on the field. Ansah is scheduled to hit free agency in March.

Roberts, 24, has nine catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns in eight games this season, his second since being drafted in the fourth round in 2017 out of Toledo.

The Lions are 5-8 and in last place in the NFC North. They play at Buffalo this Sunday before closing out the season at home against Minnesota on Dec. 23 and at Green Bay on Dec. 30.

–Field Level Media

Read More 131 Words

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

NFL hikes salary cap to $190 million in 2019

The NFL announced Tuesday that the salary cap will rise to about $190 million in 2019, a jump from $177.2 million this season.

The league informed teams that the projected range is from $187.0 to $191.1 million.

That marks a 40-percent increase since the 2014 season ($133.0 million) and the sixth consecutive year the cap has climbed by at least $10 million.

“Total projected player costs, including benefits, will be more than $7.3 billion in 2019,” the league said in a statement.

The exact salary cap figure will be determined before free agency opens on March 13.

–Field Level Media

Read More 36 Words

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

Titans place RT Conklin, TE Smith on injured reserve

The Tennessee Titans placed right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Jonnu Smith on injured reserve with knee injuries on Tuesday.

Both starters were injured during the Titans’ 30-9 victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.

Smith, who took over for injured three-time Pro Bowl selection Delanie Walker, finishes his second NFL season with 20 catches for 258 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games.

Conklin, the Titans’ first-round pick (eighth overall) in 2016, was limited to nine games this season after starting all 16 games in each of his first two campaigns.

Veteran Dennis Kelly is expected to replace Conklin, and Anthony Firkser will step in for Smith. Tennessee also signed free agent offensive lineman Austin Pasztor and added tight end Cole Wick from the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad.

With three games remaining, the Titans are one of four AFC teams tied at 7-6 and chasing a wild-card berth in the playoffs.

–Field Level Media

Read More 101 Words

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

Oakland sues Raiders, NFL over Vegas move

The city of Oakland, Calif., gave the Raiders a going-away present on Tuesday.

A federal lawsuit.

Oakland City Attorney Barbara J. Parker announced the suit, which alleges antitrust violations and breach of contract, and names the Raiders, the NFL and every other team in the league.

While the city does not demand that the Raiders be forced to remain in Oakland, the seven-count filing in district court does seek restitution in the form of lost revenue, remaining debt on renovations to the Oakland Coliseum, court costs and fees, plus punitive damages.

“The City will seek a resolution for the maximum amount of damages available,” Parker said in a news release shortly before filing the lawsuit. “The lawsuit will not ask the court to prevent the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas or keep the team in Oakland.”

The Raiders received league approval to relocate to Las Vegas in March 2017. They are expected to begin playing in Las Vegas when a new stadium opens in 2020. The team still does not know where it will play in 2019.

One of the main cruxes of the city’s argument is that the NFL’s relocation policy is “skewed” in the favor of cities looking to get a team and biased against current host cities because each team shares a part of the moving team’s relocation fee.

The suit also alleges the NFL uses its relocation policy to in essence strong-arm host cities into ponying up money for a new stadium, threatening to move a team out of that city should the funds not be raised.

“Threats of relocation are a central part of the NFL’s practice of demanding public financing for new stadiums, which significantly increase team revenues and ticket prices,” Parker said in the statement.

“Further, each time an NFL club moves, all NFL teams share in a ‘relocation fee.’ In the last several years, the NFL defendants have shared approximately $1.47 billion in these fees. The Raiders alone have agreed to pay over $370 million to the other NFL defendants for their ‘yes’ vote on the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.”

The city is seeking a jury trial but makes no specific monetary demand other than amounts to be determined at trial.

–Field Level Media

Read More 316 Words

Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers' Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Steelers’ Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up, but sore ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury sustained in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Roethlisberger is dealing with bruised ribs.

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning but opted to play.

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

During the game, Tomlin conferred with the team’s medical staff, which told the coach and general manager Kevin Colbert that the antiquated X-ray machine produced results that couldn’t be read.

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play anyway, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger wound up completing 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

–Field Level Media

Read More 186 Words

Chiefs, Mahomes can lock up West with win over Chargers

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and -- most importantly -- a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback

An unexpected toss with his left hand, a no-look pass to a crossing receiver and — most importantly — a run toward home-field advantage in the AFC playoffs.

 

All that and so much more has defined record-setting Patrick Mahomes as a first-year starter in the NFL this season. Yet the Kansas City Chiefs quarterback must be on top of his game again Thursday night when the streaking Los Angeles Chargers look to tighten the West Division race.

 

Kansas City (11-2) last weekend qualified for the playoffs for the fifth time under sixth-year coach Andy Reid, using a madcap rally Mahomes engineered Sunday to hold off the Baltimore Ravens 27-24 in overtime. But after burning the NFL’s top defense entering the game for 377 yards passing and two touchdowns, the no-look pass was all the rage.

 

Hey, it’s always something radical with Mahomes.

 

“I worked with him real hard on that. I built that right into the offense,” Reid cracked. “He has a knack for that. He is comfortable doing it. This is the NFL and he is doing it. That’s something to do it in practice, but when you start throwing it in a game against the No. 1 defense in the National Football League, that is a little different.”

 

Confidence oozes from Mahomes, whose plus-32 touchdown-to-interception mark leads the NFL along, as do his 43 touchdown passes and 45 completions of 25-plus yards. The Chiefs average 437.5 yards and 36.2 points per game, along with 6.86 yards per play, all of which lead the league.

 

“I have built that chemistry with guys like D-Rob,” Mahomes said of Demarcus Robinson, recipient of the no-look pass, “through training camp and through last year. I know that the guys are going to know what I’m thinking and trust that they are going to keep running the route the same way. Then, I put the ball out there for them.”

 

Los Angeles (10-3) will counter with pressure off both edges from defensive ends Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Bosa was injured and missed the first matchup, a 38-28 Week 1 win for the Chiefs to account for Kansas City’s one-game lead over the Chargers.

 

Los Angeles has won nine of its last 10 games, including three straight. Its only road defeat was against the crosstown Rams.

 

Kansas City, however, has won 20 of its last 21 against AFC West rivals and is looking to secure a third consecutive division title. A better divisional record gives the Chiefs the tiebreaker over the Chargers should Los Angeles win Thursday.

 

Veteran quarterback Philip Rivers is having an exceptional season for the Chargers but may need to come up even bigger against the Chiefs. Running backs Melvin Gordon (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck) are dealing with injuries. Two rookies who have combined for 32 carries, Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome, are next in line.

 

“It’s important to just get back to being healthy,” said Michael Badgley, a rookie kicker who set a Chargers record with a 59-yard field goal while going 4 for 4 Sunday in a win over Cincinnati. “Get back in there, go through all of our recovery, and it will be a short week, so a big mental week.”

 

The Chiefs also must deal with injuries to offensive threats.

 

Speedy receiver Tyreek Hill limped through a heel injury against the Ravens but is expected to be available. Another receiver, Sammy Watkins (foot) is likely out. Running back Spencer Ware (shoulder) is also hobbled.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 522 Words

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

Rams place RB Brown, CB Hatfield on injured reserve

The Los Angeles Rams placed running back Malcolm Brown and cornerback Dominique Hatfield on injured reserve Tuesday.

Brown injured his collarbone during the NFC West champions’ 30-16 win at Detroit earlier this month. He has rushed for 514 yards in four seasons as Todd Gurley’s backup, including 43 carries for 212 yards and five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

Hatfield needs surgery after injuring his left ankle in Sunday’s 15-6 loss at Chicago. The second-year player and Los Angeles native saw most of his action on special teams this season.

The Rams also promoted rookie linebacker Trevon Young from the practice squad. Young, a sixth-round pick out of Louisville, has played in two games this season.

Los Angeles (11-2) hosts Philadelphia (6-7) on Sunday night.

–Field Level Media

Read More 76 Words

Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes' jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Mahomes’ jersey from Rams classic reportedly fetches $36K for charity

Patrick Mahomes may have come out on the losing end in the Kansas Chiefs’ wild shootout with the Los Angeles Rams last month, but one move he made with some memorabilia from that game is certainly a winner.

The second-year quarterback and NFL Most Valuable Player contender sent the jersey he wore Nov. 19 in the 54-51 classic to auction, where it reportedly sold for $36,150. What’s more, according to The Action Network’s Darren Rovell, the proceeds are going to aid in California wildfire relief efforts.

Both the Rams and Chiefs honored first responders to the fires throughout the Week 11 Monday night game, with the Rams handing out more than 3,000 complimentary tickets to first responders. The two biggest November fires, the Camp Fire in Northern California and Woolsey Fire in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, are responsible for nearly 90 deaths and the loss of 100,000 structures.

Mahomes has taken the league by storm in his first season as a full-time starter. His 4,300 yards and 43 touchdowns lead the league, and he also tops the NFL in touchdown percentage (8.9) and yards per attempt (9.7).

The Chiefs are 11-2 and hold a two-game lead in the race for the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs. The biggest threat to Kansas City actually comes from its own division, as the Los Angeles Chargers sit at 10-3. The Chargers visit the Chiefs on Thursday night.

–Field Level Media

Read More 179 Words

Texans look to bounce back vs. Jets, Darnold

The Houston Texans went from 0-3 to first place in the AFC South Division, a nine-game winning streak making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

 

That streak came to a crashing halt in a three-point loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

 

Now Houston gets a chance to

The Houston Texans went from 0-3 to first place in the AFC South Division, a nine-game winning streak making them one of the hottest teams in the NFL.

 

That streak came to a crashing halt in a three-point loss at home to the Indianapolis Colts last weekend.

 

Now Houston gets a chance to rebound from its first loss in two-and-a-half months Saturday afternoon when it visits the New York Jets.

 

The Texans head to East Rutherford still holding a two-game division lead over the Colts and Tennessee Titans with three weeks remaining. While Houston visits the 4-9 Jets, the Colts host the Dallas Cowboys — owners of the NFL’s longest current winning streak at five games — while the Titans visit the New York Giants.

 

During their winning streak, the Texans won five games by a touchdown or less and led at halftime of each game. On Sunday, they spent much of the game trying to rally only to come up short.

 

DeShaun Watson finished 27 of 38 for 267 yards with a touchdown pass, his 7-yard strike to DeAndre Hopkins with 2:37 left moving the Texans to within 24-21. But an offside penalty against Jadeveon Clowney on third-and-1 with two minutes remaining gave the Colts a first down and killed the Texans’ chances at completing the comeback.

 

In reality, the Texans’ inability to protect Watson (five sacks) did them in. Pass protection has been one of Houston’s biggest issues of late with opponents sacking Watson 20 times in his last five games.

 

“We didn’t play well as an offense, it is always going to be the quarterback, the head coach,” Houston coach Bill O’Brien told the media after his team’s first loss since a 27-22 setback against the Giants on Sept. 23. “I totally understand that but it just wasn’t very good as an offense. We were not able to get into a rhythm; our first-down offense was terrible. It was awful.”

 

Now the Texans will hope to correct everything against a team coming off a rare win thanks to some late-game clutch plays by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold.

 

“You let him escape, you let him start making plays, you’re going to be in a bind,” O’Brien said of the Jets’ first-round pick. “You got to stop the run. So, it’s a big challenge, but I know our guys are excited for it and we’ve got to have a good week here.”

 

The Jets were eliminated from the playoffs before taking the field in Buffalo last week but halted a six-game losing streak with a thrilling 27-23 victory thanks to Darnold’s first game-winning, fourth-quarter drive.

 

Darnold missed the previous three games because of foot sprain sustained Nov. 4 in Miami — a 13-6 loss in which he was intercepted four times. He briefly left the game against the Bills in the first half but returned and capped the comeback with a nine-play, 61-yard drive culminating in Elijah McGuire’s 1-yard run on fourth down with 1:17 remaining.

 

“It’s great for his first game back,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said on a conference call Monday. “Obviously, he was confident before the fourth-quarter comeback. But it just helps him, it just helps him be himself a little more, which he’s comfortable with being anyway, but that’s really all it does for him.”

 

Darnold finished 16 of 24 for 170 yards and highlighted by his first game-winning drive with a 37-yard pass to Robby Anderson that put the ball on the Buffalo 5-yard line.

 

“As a kid, you dream of converting two-minute drives and going down there and scoring,” Darnold told the media after the game. “To be able to score a touchdown and put the ball in their hands at the end of the game was awesome.”

 

Darnold actually nicked up his foot again at Buffalo and was limping on the game-winning drive. Bowles said he expects Darnold to play Sunday.

 

The Jets are 5-2 in seven all-time meetings with the Texans.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 609 Words

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

Vikings fire OC DeFilippo

The Minnesota Vikings fired first-year offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the team announced Tuesday.

The move comes after the Vikings’ 21-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, the team’s third defeat in its past four games. The Vikings finished the game with 276 yards of total offense, managing just 61 in the first half. It was the fourth time in the past five games that the Vikings have finished with less than 300 yards total offense.

Quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski has been elevated to interim offensive coordinator and will take over play-calling duties for the Vikings.

The Vikings entered November with a top-10 offense but have dropped to 17th after Monday night’s loss.

Head coach Mike Zimmer had been critical of DeFilippo’s play-calling recently, saying that the Vikings have not been committed enough to the running game. Running back Dalvin Cook rushed 13 times for 55 yards against the Seahawks, just the second time this season Cook has had more than 10 carries.

The Vikings (6-6-1) are vying for a wild-card spot and play host to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Vikings hired DeFilippo in February to replace Pat Shurmur, who left to become the head coach of the New York Giants.

DeFilippo spent two seasons as quarterbacks coach with the Philadelphia Eagles and was previously offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns.

–Field Level Media

Read More 166 Words

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Report: Chargers RB Gordon unlikely vs. Chiefs

Injured running back Melvin Gordon is not expected to be in uniform Thursday when the Los Angeles Chargers visit the Kansas City Chiefs in a momentous AFC West matchup, the NFL Network reported.

Gordon sprained his medial collateral ligament on a hit by Arizona Cardinals defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche in Week 13 and remains sidelined.

NFL Network reported Tuesday that Gordon and his primary backup, Austin Ekeler, would likely miss the showdown at Arrowhead Stadium.

Gordon has 802 rushing yards and 44 catches for 453 receiving yards and 13 total touchdowns on the season in 10 games played.

Ekeler (neck, concussion) would be replaced by rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome if he’s also unable to return.

Chiefs running back Spencer Ware did not practice Monday due to a hamstring injury. Ware replaced Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Chiefs, as Kansas City’s top back two weeks ago.

Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill (ankle) said he plans to play Thursday.

–Field Level Media

Read More 105 Words

Steelers QB Roethlisberger expects to play vs. Patriots

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but hurting ribs won't keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

 

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh's loss to the Oakland Raiders.

 

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is banged up but hurting ribs won’t keep him from playing when the Steelers play host to the New England Patriots on Sunday.

 

Roethlisberger required a pain-killing injection to deal with a rib injury suffered in the second quarter last week in Pittsburgh’s loss to the Oakland Raiders. He returned to the game in the third quarter.

 

Roethlisberger said during his weekly radio spot on Tuesday that he required X-rays in the locker room, but the tests were inconclusive. He said he was not confident he would be helping the team by returning, but opted to play.

 

“Let’s see how this plays out,” Roethlisberger said Tuesday of what he told head coach Mike Tomlin to be allowed back in the game.

 

Roethlisberger said team doctors cleared him to play, and his performance indicated he was fine. Roethlisberger completed 25 of 29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Asked if there’s any reason to think he wouldn’t play against the Patriots, Roethlisberger said, “No, no, I don’t think so.”

 

The Steelers have lost three consecutive games and at 7-5-1 hold a slim lead over the 7-6 Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.

 

–Field Level Media

Read More 144 Words

Ballin’ on a Budget Week 14 Results

For the second straight week, we won more bets than we lost and we can be happy about that. However, if it weren't for a Chargers strategic blunder, we would've looked even better, going to 4-1 for the second straight week. Nonetheless, it was another week in the black, pushing us ever closer

For the second straight week, we won more bets than we lost and we can be happy about that. However, if it weren’t for a Chargers strategic blunder, we would’ve looked even better, going to 4-1 for the second straight week. Nonetheless, it was another week in the black, pushing us ever closer to our end-of-year goal to have a 60 percent pick percentage and 10 percent return on investment.

WIN: Jets +3.5 at Bills (-115): Jets 27, Bills 23.

New York seemed in big trouble early in this game, but Sam Darnold and the offense turned things around in the second half. We knew this three-and-a-half-point spread was juicy since neither team is very good and it turns out we were right. For the second straight week, the Jets covered for us and this time, they even won the game straight up.

This really goes to pound the point home that if there are two teams you perceive as of equal ability, regardless of one of them being at home, taking 3.5 or more points on a spread is the way to go. Gang Green comes through again. Total payout: $7.48.

LOSS: Patriots-Dolphins UNDER 47 points (-110): Dolphins 34, Patriots 31.

Well, we were way off on this one. We didn’t take into account the weather would be beautiful in Miami and the Patriots struggle historically against the Dolphins in the month of December on the road. Of course, they still would have won if it weren’t for Miami’s miraculous lateral play on their final attempt from scrimmage, but the over/under was gone at half time. Whether you believe in Ryan Tannehill or not, the Dolphins are a different team with him on the field.

Sometimes, with bets like this, which are over before the second half, it’s better to just lick your wounds and move on. That same logic doesn’t hold for our second unsuccessful over/under of the week, which was the biggest heartbreaker you could imagine. Total payout: $0.

LOSS: Chargers-Bengals OVER 47.5 points (-110): Chargers 26, Bengals 21.

So, we lost it by half a point. Oh, by the way, the Bengals screwed up down the stretch. Cincinnati stormed all the way back and was a two-point conversion away from tying the game at 23 after a Joe Mixon one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. They didn’t get it and it kept us from hitting the over. L.A. eventually drove down and drilled a field goal with less than a minute left to extend the lead to five.

Had Cincy made that field goal, this game would have ended 26-23, with the over hitting and all of us going home happy. If it’s any consolation, the Bengals did help us in another department by keeping things close, so we owe them for that. Total payout: $0.

WIN: Bengals +14.5 vs. Chargers (-120): Chargers 26, Bengals 21.

So, we can be mad at the Bengals for not getting that two-point conversion and helping us with the over, but we can’t be mad at their overall effort in this game. We have a proven track record picking with underdogs of 14 points or more this season, but with Jeff Driskell at quarterback for Cincinnati, we were taking a chance. He actually played fairly well and rewarded our confidence in the team.

That now makes us 3-for-3 this season in picking big-time underdogs, so let’s keep an eye out for those down the stretch. That could be tricky with many good teams clinching playoff spots, but with the the race for home field in the AFC and NFC heating up, we should be able to rely on this method for at least the next couple weeks. Total payout: $7.33.

WIN: Lions -2.5 vs. Cardinals (-115): Lions 17, Cardinals 3.

This was a really gross game, but hey, the Lions covered and that’s all we care about. It was 3-0 Lions at halftime and it barely got more entertaining in the second half. Matthew Stafford had one of the worst games of his career, barely managing 100 yards, but his defense got the job done. Arizona, which looked decent against the Packers, wasn’t able to muster anything against Detroit’s D.

If you didn’t watch this game, but bet it and collected your winnings, good for you. You got the best of both worlds. This was not a game worth watching, but the fact we won some money doing it made it just a little bit easier on the eyes. Total payout: $7.48.

PIGGY BANK: $309.89 (10.7% return on investment)

PICK PERCENTAGE: 59.7% (40-27-3)

Jacob Kornhauser is a sports reporter in Southern Oregon covering all sports, including Oregon and Oregon State athletics. He has been a national baseball writer for Bleacher Report and Rant Sports and has written two baseball books. He also specializes in sports betting analysis. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School.

Read More 680 Words