Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Thursday edition of the Pick Six Newsletter!
If you've been following NFL news today, then you probably already know about the firing of Urban Meyer, which honestly, was probably for the best, because it was starting to feel like no one in Jacksonville wanted Urban Meyer to be the coach of the Jaguars anymore and that includes Urban Meyer.
After multiple controversies over the past several months, it appears the last straw for Jaguars owner Shad Khan was the fact that Meyer kicked his kicker in warmups during the preseason. I mean, who kicks their kicker? It almost feels like Meyer made a bet with himself to see if he could get canned before his first season was over, and if that's the case, he won the bet, so congrats Urban.
We've got a jam-packed newsletter today: Not only will we have more on Meyer's firing, but we'll also have some playoff projections and we'll be making picks for the Chiefs-Chargers game tonight, so let's get to the rundown.
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1. Today's show: Chiefs-Chargers betting preview
If you're planning on betting any money on tonight's game, then you're going to want to make sure to listen to today's episode of the podcast before you place any bets. For today's show, Will Brinson brought on CBSSports writer Tyler Sullivan, and the two went into full gambling mode.
Here are several props they like for the game:
- Patrick Mahomes UNDER 289.5 passing yards (-105). Betting the UNDER on Mahomes' passing total might feel a little risky, but there's actually a reason for taking this prop: The Chargers can't stop the run. The Chargers are surrendering 140.7 yards per game on the ground, which is the second-most in the NFL. It's almost guaranteed that the Chiefs will try to get their run game going and if that happens, it wouldn't be surprising if Mahomes finished with a lower passing number tonight. It's also worth noting that he's gone under this number in three straight games.
- Justin Herbert OVER 15.5 rushing yards (-120). The Chargers QB doesn't put up huge rushing numbers every week, but he does seem to run the ball more than you might think. Herbert has actually gone over this total in four of the Chargers' past five games, and he also went over it back in Week 3 during Los Angeles' first meeting with the Chiefs.
- Travis Kelce OVER 5.5 receptions (-140). The Chiefs tight end has been in kind of a slump lately with just three catches in each of his past two games, but he always tends to put up big numbers against the Chargers. In his past five games against L.A., Kelce is averaging 6.6 receptions per game and that includes a meeting earlier this season when he caught seven passes for 104 yards. Also, don't be surprised if Kelce scores a TD as the Chargers have given up the second-most touchdowns to tight ends this year.
- Long-shot prop: Mahomes scores first TD of the game (+2300). The Chiefs QB actually scored the first TD of the game back in Week 13, so we've already seen this prop hit once this year. The best part here is that if he does it again, there's a lot of value in betting on him. If you put just $10 on Mahomes to score the game's first TD, you'd get a return of $230.
For more props and their actual predictions for tonight's game, be sure to click here so you can listen to today's episode. If you'd rather watch today's show, you can now do that on YouTube by clicking here!
2. Thursday night preview: Prepping you for Chiefs at Chargers
For the penultimate Thursday game of the NFL season, we're getting a huge showdown. The Chiefs won't clinch the AFC West with a win, but they'll come close. A win would give them a two-game lead with just three weeks remaining in the season. If the Chargers want to have a chance to win their first division title since 2009, then they need to win this game.
My good buddy Jared Dubin put together our deep-dive preview for this game at CBS Sports, and here's how he sees it playing out:
- Why the Chargers can win: This game is going to be all about Justin Herbert. With starting left tackle Rashawn Slater on the COVID list, Herbert is likely going to be facing a Chiefs' pass-rush that will be coming at him fast and furiously. That might make it hard to complete long passes, but if Herbert can dice up the Chiefs defense with short and intermediate passes, that should put the Chargers in a good position to win. Even if he is facing a heavy rush, one thing the Chargers can't afford is for Herbert to make mistakes. Los Angeles is 0-3 this season in games where he throws multiple interceptions.
- Why the Chiefs can win: One of the biggest surprises of the Chiefs' six-game winning streak is how well their defense has been playing. Since the streak started in Week 8, the Chiefs are only surrendering 10.8 points per game. On the Chargers' end, their magic number this year has been 27; they're 7-0 when scoring 27 or more points and just 1-5 when scoring under 27. Basically, if the Chiefs defense can keep up its stellar play and shut down the Chargers high-powered offense, there's a good chance the Chiefs should be able to pull this off.
You can get a full preview of the game from Dubin by clicking here. The Chiefs are currently favored by three points, and as you can see below, Dubin and I DO NOT agree on who's going to win the game.
Dubin's pick: Chargers 27-23 over Chiefs.
My pick: Chiefs 34-27 over Chargers.
If you're thinking about betting on the game, Tyler Sullivan put together a full gambling preview.
- ONE PROP TYLER LIKES: Clyde Edwards-Helaire OVER 56.5 rushing yards (-130: "Edwards-Helaire had one of his best games of the season against the Chargers back in Week 3, rushing for 100 yards on 17 carries. With the Chargers still struggling against the run (32nd in the NFL in DVOA), he should be in line for another strong day on the ground. Over the last three weeks, L.A. is giving up 126 rushing yards per game."
- ONE PROP I LIKE: Harrison Butker OVER 1.5 field goals (-115): With Patrick Mahomes running the offense, you might think that the Chiefs don't kick a lot of field goals, but the truth is that there aren't many coaches who love kicking field goals more than Andy Reid. Butker has had at least two field goals in SIX STRAIGHT GAMES, and I won't be surprised if that streak continues against the Chargers, especially considering this game is being played indoors.
3. Urban Meyer gets fired in midnight move by Jaguars
It's not easy to get fired from your job in the middle of the night, but that's what happened to Urban Meyer. Just before 1 a.m. ET today, the Jags officially announced that Meyer had been canned, ending his tempestuous time with the team.
Meyer survived multiple controversies in Jacksonville, but it appears the last straw for Jags owner Shad Khan came Wednesday when former Jaguars kicker Josh Lambo claimed that Meyer once kicked him in a practice. You should never kick any players, but kicking your kicker is in its own world of dumb.
Here's brief look at Meyer's rocky tenure and the events that led up to his firing:
- Strength coach resigns less than one day after being hired. The hiring of Chris Doyle caused an immediate controversy and that's because Doyle had once been put on administrative leave after multiple Black players accused him of treating them poorly due to their race. Doyle was hired in February and resigned less than 24 hours later.
- Jaguars draft Travis Etienne. With James Robinson on their roster, the one thing the Jaguars didn't need in the draft was a running back, but Meyer got one anyway. The worst part is that he used a FIRST-ROUND pick to grab Etienne.
- Brings in Tim Tebow. Tebow had a zero percent chance of making the team, but Meyer decided to bring him in anyway, which caused a circus in Jacksonville, and a circus definitely isn't something an NFL coach needs during his first year on the job.
- Takes first-team reps away from Trevor Lawrence. During the preseason, Meyer insisted that Lawrence was battling with Gardner Minshew to be the starting QB even though everyone knew there was no way Minshew was winning the job. The competition meant that Lawrence missed out on key first-team reps in training camp, which were important reps that the rookie QB probably could have used.
- Skips team flight home from Ohio. The beginning of the end happened in October when Meyer was caught on video dancing with a woman who wasn't his wife. As if that wasn't bad enough, it came after he skipped the team flight home following a Thursday night game in Cincinnati.
- Leaks keep coming. Over the past few weeks, there were multiple leaks out of the Jaguars locker room. In those weeks, we learned that Meyer regularly called his assistant coaches losers and that he once got into it with receiver Marvin Jones, which was shocking to hear, because Jones might be the most soft-spoken player in the NFL.
- Benches James Robinson. While dealing with an injury in Week 13, Robinson got benched, which would have been fine, but then Meyer made his injured running back re-enter the game late in the fourth quarter of a 37-7 loss to the Rams.
- Accused of kicking Lambo. The accusations from the former Jaguars kicker were damning to say the least. Lambo says that Meyer kicked him during warmups before a preseason game, and you can read more about that situation by clicking here.
That's a lot of red flags for any coach, but it's way too many for a first-year coach with no NFL track record. For a full timeline of Meyer's rocky tenure in Jacksonville, be sure to click here.
With the firing, Meyer becomes just the second coach over the past 20 years not to make it through his first season on the job. The only other time it happened came in 2007 when Bobby Petrino resigned as Falcons coach after 13 games to take the coaching job at Arkansas.
4. NFL owners meeting roundup: Vegas officially gets a Super Bowl, new rule about coaching interviews approved, new playoff rule
The NFL owners got together for a meeting Wednesday in Dallas, and although the December meetings are usually pretty quiet, the league did make a few notable decisions.
Here are the details on what went down:
- Las Vegas is getting a Super Bowl. The owners voted unanimously to put Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas. The game will be played on Feb. 11, 2024 and will air on CBS. I'm probably just going to go ahead and book my hotel now.
- Timeline changes for coaching interviews. In the past, teams had to wait until the end of the season if they wanted to reach out to another team to interview someone on their staff for a head coaching job. However, that has now changed and any team that has fired its coach can start the interview process with two weeks left in the season. Under this new rule, the Jaguars and Raiders can both start interviewing candidates as soon as Dec. 28.
- Rule change for the playoffs. Under a new rule that was approved Wednesday, teams playing in the postseason will have the power to make unlimited practice squad promotions. In the past, teams were capped at two promotions and players had to be technically waived after that second elevation, but once the playoffs start, that rule will be thrown out the window.
- New COVID protocols could be coming. With nearly 100 players placed on the COVID list this week and most of them asymptomatic, the NFL is thinking about changing its protocols. According to NFL.com, one option being considered is allowing vaccinated players to return to the field after just one negative test. Right now, a player has to record two negative tests that were taken at least 24 hours apart if they want to return to the field after having COVID. Also, the NFLPA wants to test every player daily, but the NFL doesn't want that. Right now, unvaccinated players are tested every day, but vaccinated players are only tested once per week.
5. NFL playoff projections heading into Week 15
When it comes to the postseason, the only thing anyone wants to know is whether their favorite team is going to make it, which is why we decided to do some projections!
To figure out who's going to make the playoffs this year, we had Stephen Oh of SportsLine crunch some numbers. We then used those numbers to project the 14 teams we expect to make the playoffs.
Here's how our projection breaks down for both conferences and remember, these are projections. If you want to see the current playoff standings, then be sure to click here.
After staring at these projections for three straight hours, I've decided that I think we'll probably see 12 of the 14 teams listed here eventually make the playoffs. In the AFC, I'm not so sure I think the Ravens are going to get in anymore. Not only is Lamar Jackson dealing with an injured ankle, but Baltimore has the third-toughest schedule to close the season with games against the Packers, Rams, Bengals and Steelers. In the NFC, I still like the Vikings to steal that final wild-card spot over the Eagles.
According to Oh's projections, the Buccaneers are currently the team favored to win it all. If you want more details on the projections, including what the playoff chances are for all 32 teams, be sure to click here.
6. Rapid-fire roundup: DeAndre Hopkins likely out for rest of season
It's been a busy 24 hours in the NFL, and since it's nearly impossible to keep track of everything that happened, I went ahead and put together a roundup for you.
- Hopkins likely out for year. The Cardinals star is going to have surgery this week on a torn MCL and that will keep him out for the rest of the regular season. CBS Sports NFL Insider Josina Anderson has also reported that Hopkins will be out two to four months, which would also cause him to miss the playoffs. If the Cards make the Super Bowl, Hopkins might have a chance to play, but outside of that, it sounds like he's done for the year.
- Postponement not under consideration for any NFL games this week. With the NFL being hit hard by COVID this week, there was some speculation that the league might consider moving the Raiders-Browns game (Cleveland has 19 people on the COVID list) or the Washington-Philadelphia game (The Football Team has 21 people on the COVID list), but that won't be happening. Roger Goodell made it clear on Wednesday that as of right now, the games are going to go on as scheduled.
- Dolphins sign former Raiders first-rounder. Former Raiders corner Damon Arnette, who was cut by the team in November, has signed with the Dolphins. The Raiders selected Arnette with the 19th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he was cut after a video surfaced that showed him threatening people with a gun.
- Sam Darnold designated to return off injured reserve. The Panthers quarterback has been designated to return off IR, which means the team will have three weeks to move him to the active roster. Once that happens, it will be interesting to see if Carolina rolls with Darnold or Cam Newton as its starting quarterback.
- Sean Payton misses practice. The Saints coach was out of practice Wednesday due to that fact that he's sick. Fortunately for New Orleans, he tested negative for COVID, which means he'll likely be on the field Sunday against the Buccaneers as long as he's feeling better.
- Jaylen Waddle going on COVID list. The Dolphins rookie likely won't be on the field Sunday against the Jets after being going on the COVID list, so adjust your fantasy rosters accordingly.