Photo: Oakland Alameda County Coliseum

Raiders host the Broncos on Christmas Eve for what could be their final game in Oakland Coliseum

Monday night’s game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders won’t be unique just because it is on Christmas Eve. It will be special because it could be the Raiders’ final game played at the Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum.

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Raiders owner Mark Davis is moving the Raiders to Las Vegas in 2020. Since the city of Oakland recently sued the Raiders and the rest of the NFL over the move to Las Vegas, Davis is looking for another venue for the team in 2019.

Oakland and Denver do have one thing in common — both teams are putting the final touches on disappointing seasons. For the Raiders (3-11) and Broncos (6-8), most of the focus has shifted towards next season and the 2019 NFL Draft. But there’s still pride on the line (and maybe a head coach’s job), especially considering the first meeting between these two teams came down to a last-second field goal.

Back in Week 2, Denver overcame a 12-0 halftime deficit to beat Oakland 20-19. The Broncos scored the final 13 points of the game with Brandon McManus kicking a 36-yard field with six seconds left to complete the comeback. It also should be pointed out that several of the key participants in that game won’t be a part of the return matchup whether it be due to injury (Marshawn Lynch, Emmanuel Sanders, Chris Harris Jr.) or trade (Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas).

Denver at Oakland

Kickoff: Monday, Dec. 24 at 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN
Spread: Denver -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Derek Carr
Despite the Raiders’ record, Carr has played some of the best football of his career the last two months. He has not thrown an interception in his last nine games, a span of 292 pass attempts. That’s already a franchise record and the current longest active streak in the NFL since Aaron Rodgers’ record run came to an end at 402 following an interception in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to Chicago.

For the season, Carr has 3,697 passing yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those numbers may not seem all that impressive, but Carr hasn’t gotten a lot of help from either his pass catchers or his offensive line this season. He’s been sacked 47 times through 14 games, that’s the third-highest total in the league, yet he’s seventh in the league with a completion rate of 68.4 percent, which is a career-best mark for him.

Denver can still get after the quarterback (42 sacks), but the Broncos have been susceptible through the air. They rank 25th in the league at 257.9 passing yards per game allowed and just put top cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on injured reserve. If Oakland’s line can give Carr enough time to throw, he should be able to have some success on Monday night.

2. Phillip Lindsay

Lindsay has not only been among the best rookies in the NFL this season but one of the biggest surprises in the entire league. After going undrafted in April, Lindsay has rushed for 991 yards and nine touchdowns, becoming the first undrafted offensive rookie to be named to the Pro Bowl.

“To be able to have 100 yards in a game was great,” Lindsay said earlier this week. “To get a touchdown, to be able to play [at Broncos Stadium at Mile High], that’s the stuff right there that I dreamt about. The Pro Bowl is something that you think like five years down the line, three years down the line. It’s an honor to get it.”

Oakland’s rushing defense is dead last in the league at 146.4 yards per game. The Raiders already know what to expect when facing Lindsay. He posted his first career 100-yard game against them back in Week 2, going for 107 on just 14 carries (7.6 ypc) with a long of 53 yards.

3. Emotions
Just like the fans watching and attending Monday night’s game, it figures to be emotional for Oakland’s players as well as the coaches given the uncertain status about where they will be playing in 2019.

Head coach Jon Gruden is in his second stint with the Raiders after first coming to the franchise back in 1998. So Gruden has been through the ups and downs with the Raiders.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere Monday night, on Christmas Eve, the Denver Broncos coming to town,” Gruden said. “I get excited thinking about it. Just raging in the Black Hole. Rocking and raging down there after the Steelers game, after a lot of wins over the years. Seeing a lot of the old highlights of the great Raiders teams. I get excited, and I get emotional about it. Hopefully, we get it all resolved where we can continue to play here.”

Final Analysis

Although this game doesn’t have any playoff implications, the Raiders would love nothing more than to go out with a victory in possibly their last game in Oakland. If the Raiders can contain Phillip Lindsay and the Broncos’ running game, they will have a chance for the upset.

Denver quarterback Case Keenum, like the Broncos as a team, has been inconsistent this season. He’s on pace to set a new career high for passing yards (3,396 entering Monday night), but he has just 15 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions.

While this game will likely be close as it reaches the fourth quarter, look for the Raiders, with a rejuvenated Carr leading the way, give the fans an early Christmas present with one last victory in the Black Hole.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Raiders at 49ers

The Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers each harbored lofty aspirations of franchise-changing seasons entering 2018, but the Bay Area rivals are mired in downward spirals in what has become a battle of attrition for both teams. When the Raiders visit the 49ers on Thursday night, the most noteworthy similarity is the number of wins by each club: one.

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“This is going to fun for the fans and fun for both teams,” said Oakland coach Jon Gruden, who was lured back to the Raiders’ sideline with the hope of bringing back the team’s glory days. Instead, the Raiders traded away both their best player (Khalil Mack) and arguably their top offensive talent (Amari Cooper), and have been increasingly non-competitive during a three-game slide, losing by an average of 18 points. Injuries have victimized the 49ers, who lost their starting quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo) and top running back (Jerick McKinnon) to season-ending torn ACLs and have dropped an NFL-worst six games in a row — with the last three on the road coming by a combined eight points. “We’re fighting,” San Francisco cornerback Richard Sherman said. “Unfortunately we’re not getting the results. These have been some of the toughest losses I’ve seen.”

TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, FOX, NFL Network. LINE: 49ers -3. O/U: 46

ABOUT THE RAIDERS (1-6): Despite rumors of more moves at Tuesday’s trade deadline, Oakland opted to stand pat, although cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie announced his retirement on Instagram. Derek Carr registered a season-high 136.6 passer rating in last week’s 42-28 loss to Indianapolis, throwing for three touchdown passes before the Raiders were torched for 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Doug Martin rushed for 72 yards in place of an injured Marshawn Lynch and tight end Jared Cook continued his stellar season with four catches for 74 yards and a score. Mack’s loss has killed the pass rush, which has an NFL-low 7.0 sacks.

ABOUT THE 49ERS (1-7): Its losing streak aside, San Francisco has a major injury concern as quarterback C.J. Beathard was unable to practice Tuesday due to a sore right wrist. “We feel C.J. would be good if we were playing on Sunday but it’s going to be a test for Thursday and we probably won’t know until then,” said 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, who would go with undrafted free agent Nick Mullens if Beathard can’t go. The one reliable offensive option for San Francisco is tight end George Kittle, who has a team-high 37 receptions and at least five in six of eight games. The 49ers are surrendering 262.5 yards passing and have posted only two interceptions.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The 49ers rank 28th and Raiders 31st in points allowed with 29.5 and 31.1, respectively.

2. Kittle and Cook are third and fourth, respectively, among tight ends in yardage with 584 and 474.

3. Carr has thrown for 901 yards in his last three road games.

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Posted in NFL, Top Fantasy Picks

Complete AFC West Preview

Here is a look at what you can expect from the Broncos, Raiders, Chargers and Chiefs this season…

Los Angeles Chargers

It seems like it happens every season: The Chargers get hot late in the year, and some pundit somewhere says, “Boy, I wouldn’t want to face the Chargers in the playoffs.” And then just like that, the Chargers miss the playoffs. And every year, the Chargers can painfully point to one or two games, or even one or two plays, that cost them a postseason berth.

Last year it was an ugly 0-4 start that ultimately doomed the Chargers, with kicking woes costing them dearly. But there was also the mind-numbing 20-17 overtime loss at Jacksonville in which the Chargers intercepted Blake Bortles twice inside of the final two minutes and still lost thanks to a penalty, a turnover of their own and then a game-winning kick by former teammate Josh Lambo.

So while winning six of their last seven games still gave them playoff hopes, they missed the postseason because they didn’t control their own destiny. That’s got to be foremost in QB Philip Rivers’ mind, as he’s seen that picture before and doesn’t want to repeat it yet again as his career winds down. That’s why winning the AFC West is paramount, with its guaranteed playoff berth, rather than putting their fate in the hands of the always-wild scramble for a Wild Card berth.

Kansas City Chiefs

Coming off consecutive AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history, the Chiefs remain contenders to win the division, but the rest of the division is looking stronger. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has to prove he can manage an NFL offense — protect the football, make good decisions and master coach Andy Reid’s verbiage-intense playbook — as well as Alex Smith did for five seasons. The Chargers, Broncos and Raiders all improved significantly on paper. With a first-year starter at quarterback and a retooled defense, the Chiefs face plenty of questions entering 2018. It remains a hopeful time for the Chiefs Kingdom, but Mahomes has a long way to go to live up to the hype.

Oakland Raiders

The Raiders still have most of the key players who helped the team finish 12–4 two seasons ago. If QB Derek Carr gets back on track and new head coach Jon Gruden quickly gets back up to NFL coaching speed, then the Raiders should be able to contend for a playoff spot. Tennessee and Buffalo earned AFC Wild Card berths last season with nine wins apiece, giving the Raiders a reasonable goal to shoot for.

Denver Broncos

Can this team return to prominence, win an AFC West road game for the first time since Peyton Manning retired and finally boast a reliable offense? The key remains for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave ability to design an attack around QB Case Keenum’s skill set, keeping it simple with doses of creativity. Keenum has shown he can make big plays, but not if he’s throwing 30 times per game. Denver scares no one offensively, but that could change if the team becomes more physical up front and keeps its quarterback upright.

The body language of the defense slumped after every offensive turnover last season — 34 in all. The Broncos expect that figure to be sliced in half, or close to it.

Even with Keenum stabilizing the quarterback spot and the defense deeper, the Broncos face an uphill climb to .500. The sense of urgency is real, though. Every week will be a referendum on head coach Vance Joseph’s job and Keenum’s future.

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Posted in NFL

Fantasy Football Draft

AFC West

We are almost there, the day before the NFL draft. Things have been crazy with predictions on whom will be picked during the draft. But one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that both the city of San Diego and Oakland will live to see another draft pick coming to play in their home stadiums. The AFC West Chargers had an unsuccessful 2015 season and will select early in this draft (3rd pick), unlike their divisional rivals and Superbowl champion Denver Broncos. The Manning-less team will be the last team to choose in the first-round, due to their post-season conquest. FanPicks gives you the chance to win $100,000 with their 2016 NFL Fantasy Football Draft Frenzy contest. Click on the link and follow the instruction to be part of the biggest NFL event of the summer.

Denver Broncos

Things doesn’t look as smooth with no Peyton Manning, and even Brock Osweiler in the Broncos lineup. They have yet to fill a starter for next season in that spot. Well, there no place like any to start looking than at the draft. Denver could look to add-in some help at guard and tackle within the initial four rounds. The losses of DT Malik Jackson and LB Danny Trevathan should be something to look at as well.

Top 2 round picks: 31st and 63rd selections.

Kansas City Chiefs

The re-signing of Tamba Hali allows the Chiefs to maintain a solid asset at linebacker position. But the future still needs to be addressed and a perfect fit could come knocking on Hali’s door. Another high-end defensive linesman could be useful K.C. The loss of Chase Daniels as the backup QB will need to be taking care of.

Top 2 round picks: 28th and 59th selections.

Oakland Raiders

Adding Kelechi Osemele to their ranks will certainly fortify the interior Raiders O-line. Yet, they will still need to improve at the tackle spot. Stabilizing the back-end with another tailback shouldn’t be hard to find in this draft. Okland will need to replace CB Sean Smith and S Charles Woodson. Bruce Irvin will add even more juice to the Raiders’ pass rush, but a little help at middle linebacker could be looked at in the middle-rounds.

Top 2 round picks: 14th and 44th selections.

San Diego Chargers

Philip Rivers can count on his fingers how many receivers he threw to over the last few year. One of his main target is NFL 13-years veteran Antonio Gates. In fact, they hold the NFL record for most TD’s between a quarterback to tight end. Unfortunately for them, this union has run his course and it could be time to find Gate’s replacement. The Chargers added safety Dwight Lowery to replace the departed Eric Weddle. Is that enough though? For the rest, San Diego will need to upgrade their offensive and defensive line for this season.

Top 2 round picks: 3rd and 35th selections.

Posted in NFL

NFL Free Agent Tracker

When the NFL Free Agency period begins at 4pm (est), these signings can become official. Until then, they are just agreements with no ink on paper due to league tampering laws.

Here we bring you the latest league news in our NFL Free Agent Tracker.

Latest

Olivier Vernon has signed a record breaking 5-year $85 million deal with the New York Giants($52.2M guaranteed). They have now signed Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison, and Janoris Jenkins to improve their defense.

Bears sign T Bobby Massie to a 3-year contract. He comes from the Arizona Cardinals.

RT Mitchell Schwartz is leaving the Browns for the Chiefs.

Matt Forte will be dawning green next season, as he signs with the New York Jets to fill their need at RB.

Mohammed Sanu is off to Atlanta…to at least visit. Rumour is he will sign a 5-year $35M deal with the Falcons. They also locked up Matt Schaub to backup Matt Ryan.

Houston was just involved in a trio of moves, gaining two and losing one. The biggest of all..former Denver Broncos QB Brock Osweiler signs a 4-year deal worth $72 million.

Former Texan gaurd Brandon Brooks will head to Philly on 5-year $40M deal.

Another RB off the market, Lamar Miller will wear a Texans jersey next season, and the next 3 after that. Miller signs a 4-year deal worth $26M with Houston ($14M guaranteed at signing)

DL Damon “Snacks” Harrison will be playing in the same stadium next year but switching jerseys. The former Jet will be joining the NY Giants.

The Buccaneers will be retaining their star RB as Doug Martin will be staying in Tampa Bay on a 5 year contract worth $35.75M. Slightly more than Chris Ivory’s with the Jaguars.

The Falcons have finally landed one of their many targets as Alex Mack will be joining his former OC Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta on a 5-year deal worth $9.5M annually. The first two years are said to be fully guaranteed for the 30 year old 3x Pro-Bowl center.

WR Marvin Jones will do his best to replace Calvin Johnson’s production as the former Bengal will be signing with the Detroit Lions.

Antonio Gates has re-upped in San Diego on a 2-year deal. This should bring the legendary TE to his last playing days with the only team he’s ever played for. This probably means Ladarius Green is as good as gone.

Former 49er Alex Boone will be leaving San Francisco for the Vikings. The guard was heavily pursued by the Dolphins.

Travis Benjamin is going to be wearing a Chargers jersey next season, as the speedy former Browns breakout WR will sign in San Diego. Last year he tied for the league lead with 4 TD catches over 30+yards.

Janoris Jenkins is now the 7th highest paid CB in the league, and second only in guaranteed money to Darrelle Revis. He will be signing a 5 year pact with the New York Giants worth $62.5M ($29M/guaranteed).

Bengals hard-hitting safety George Iloka will be remaining in Cincy. It looks like a 5-year deal worth $30M. Word is he passed up more money elsewhere to remain in Cincinnati.

Chris Ivory landed in Jacksonville. Word is it’s a 5-year $32.5 million deal.

Another pass-rusher off the market. Bruce Irvin is heading to Oakland to join and the Raiders.

Ben Jones, the versatile interior lineman has signed with the Titans. A smart addition given the DeMarco Murray acquisition.

JPP will stay in New York on a 1-year deal.

Charles Johnson re-ups in Carolina.

Ben Watson to the Ravens on a 2-year contract.

Malik Jackson broke the bank by signing with the Jaguars. Huge money for a DL. 6 years, $90 million.

Mario Williams started the day off by making headlines when he signed in Miami on a two-year deal for $17 Million (up to $20M). The Dolphins are preparing to lose star rusher Olivier Vernon.

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Week 15 Stacks to Watch Out For

Carolina Panthers versus the Giants

No need to tell you how unstoppable the Panthers have been this year. Newton is the frontrunner in the MVP race and their winning record speaks for itself. However, they may be missing their star tight end Greg Olsen, who left the game early with a knee injury. Weather he plays or not, he may be a risky pick. If Olsen is limited that will mean more targets for Ginn and Funchess, especially Ginn who has shown he has the speed to separate from defenders and get open for a long ball.

The primary reason this stack looks so promising however is more about their matchup. The Giants have by far been the weakest at against defending the pass this year allowing an average of 314.5 passing yards per game this year, far more than the second place on this list (Steelers at 279 passing yards per game).

Packers Stack

If you are looking for a stack that may be less owned (more upside in a tournament) the Packers may be your choice. While Aaron Rodgers has been struggling lately and the Packers were all run game last weekend, we all know what Aaron Rodgers is capable of with that offense. The Raiders, while weak against both, are better at defending the run than the pass, allowing an average of 271 passing yards per game this year (putting them 5th on that list) but are 12 on lowest rushing yards allowed with just over 100 per game.

James Jones and Randall Cobb are the best picks as far as receivers go. Cobb is a definite favorite target of Rodgers’ and he always seems to be able to find Jones for a long ball. While Richard Rodgers is a red zone threat, I doubt he will be able to match his 2 touchdown performance from 2 weeks ago and he doesn’t get many targets otherwise.

Cardinals Stack

Another matchup that has serious potential is the Arizona Cardinals against the Eagles. The Eagles have been struggling to stop the pass this year and Carson Palmer and his receivers have been red hot. While Larry Fitzgerald has been quite as of late, he is the veteran of this team and always shows up in the clutch. However, the Eagles real weakness lies in their secondary, typically leaving the long ball open. This is where John Brown and Michael Floyd generate their value. Each had a long touchdown last week against the Vikings for over 40 yards and with their speed, they will have no problem getting open down the field against Philly’s pass defense.

Posted in NFL

NFL Fantasy Draft News 12-11-2015

New England Patriots versus Houston Texans NFL Real Money League Fantasy Preview 12-13-2015

 

The Sunday Night Football game features the Houston Texans at home to meet the New England Patriots. Fantasy football draft GM’s can tune to NBC TV on December 13th at 8:30PM Eastern Time to follow the results of their DFS roster picks.

 

The Patriots are entering play off back to back losses. Following an overtime defeat at Denver they returned home to meet the Philadelphia Eagles and get defeated 35-28. The New England defense wasn’t at fault for 21 of the points as the Eagles got two touchdowns from their special teams and took a pick six to the house on defense. What is troubling is that the New England Patriots have been unhealthy offensively.  Tom Brady’s playmakers in the passing game have been sidelined with injuries. One of their biggest losses came after their defeat to Denver as Rob Gronkowski was forced to miss last week’s game with a knee problem. He is doubtful for Sunday’s game. Julian Edelman is out and wide out Danny Amendola has been listed as questionable. Tom Brady took many risks last week as he was forced to run outside the pocket because his receiving corps was unable to gather separation from their opponents. Look for a conservative approach from New England on Sunday as they will pull back some and play the field position game to lean on their good defense.

 

Houston is 6-6 after a loss at Buffalo last week. We saw the Texans get held to 10 points when they battled a very good defensive team in the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago. At Carolina they pushed across 17 points. The Texans have not run the ball very well this year and look to be a bit one dimensional. This will play into the Patriots defense.

 

Here is the Fantasy Football Pick

 

 

Play New England Patriots Defense

 

New England is tenth in the NFL in total defense limiting opponents to 20.6 points per game. Without much balance from the Texans offense, look for the Patriots defense to come with a strong performance on Sunday.

 

 

Oakland Raiders versus Denver Broncos NFL Fantasy Preview 12-13-2015

 

Two AFC West foes battle it out on Sunday afternoon as the Denver Broncos are home to the Oakland Raiders. Fantasy football draft managers can tune to CBS TV on Sunday December 13th at 4PM Eastern Time to track the results of their NFL DFS roster selections.

 

This is a big game for the Oakland Raiders. They suffered a loss last week at home to Kansas City to fall to 5-7 and their window is closing for a post season berth. The Raiders strength this season is their much improved passing game. They rank eighth in the league by throwing for 266 yards per game.

 

 

Here is the NFL Fantasy Pick for your Real Money League

 

 

Play Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders WR)

 

Rookie Amari Cooper leads the Raiders with 62 catches for 920 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging 14.8 yards per catch on the campaign. Even if Oakland gets way behind early in this game the team never gives up and continues to push for points in the second half of games.

 

Play Ronnie Hillman (Denver Broncos RB)

 

The Denver Broncos behind a second string starting quarterback has the luxury to lean on their run game at times in games. Ronnie Hillman leads the Broncos with 643 yards rushing and six touchdowns. We have seen Oakland struggle in the area of run defense for several years now. The Raiders are sitting in the lower half of the league against the run

 

 

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 NFL Fantasy Football Draft News 10-24-2015

Oakland Raiders versus San Diego Chargers NFL DFS Fantasy Preview 10-25-2015

Two AFC West rivals meet as the San Diego Chargers will play host to the Oakland Raiders. NFL pro football fantasy football draft GMs can tune to CBS TV on Sunday October 25th at 4:05PM Eastern Time to follow the results of their roster picks.

The San Diego Chargers have had success against the Oakland Raiders having won three straight and six of their past seven meetings against the Silver and Black. The teams met in San Diego last year and was a defensive struggle with the Chargers earning a 13-6 victory.

Oakland Raiders are coming off a bye week as they visit San Diego. They are a 2-3 football team having come off two brutal close losses. They have put together two good defensive efforts the past two games having given up 16 points to Denver and 22 at Chicago. The Raiders with Jack Del Rio as head coach has shown improvement and is now respectable team. They rank 15th in their passing game as they throw for 248 yards per game. The issue for the Raiders this year is their pass defense as the club is giving up 299 yards per game through the air which is 32nd and last in the NFL.

The San Diego Chargers are a 2-4 football team as they return home to face the Raiders. They have lost two straight and four of their past five games. The team relies too much on the right arm of Phillip Rivers and continues to have problems running the football. During the Chargers deep run into the playoffs the team had a balanced offensive attack. No defense has respected the Chargers running game for some time right now so they just come after Phillip Rivers and put heavy pressure on him. San Diego is the number one passing team in football as they throw for 346 yards per game. That doesn’t bring enough points on the scoreboard as San Diego averaged 22.7 points game ranking 15th in the league. At 86 yards rushing per game the team is 29th and near the bottom of the league. San Diego is the 26th worst scoring defense in the NFL by allowing 26.8 points per game.

Oakland Raiders QB:

Derek Carr

The Raiders second year quarterback is completing 63% of his throws for 1171 yards with eight touchdowns and three picks. In the loss to Denver, Carr hit on 26 of 39 passes for 249 yards with a touchdown and pick. He has thrown for multiple touchdown throws in three of his five games.

Oakland Raiders RB:

Latavius Murray

The Raiders third year running back has 80 rushes for 336 yards with two touchdowns. It has been a struggle for Murray over his past two games. He ran for 48 yards on 15 carries at Chicago and two weeks back at home to Denver he rushed for 39 yards on 9 carries.

Oakland Raiders WR:

Amari Cooper

Cooper had big games against the Ravens and Browns. He has had just four catches in each of his past two games. Against Denver Cooper caught four passes for 47 yards.

San Diego Chargers QB:

Phillip Rivers

The veteran quarterback has completed 67% of his throws for 1226 yards with seven touchdowns and one pick. Rivers has thrown for over 300 yards in four of his six games. Last week in the loss to Green Bay he passed for 503 yards with two touchdowns.

San Diego Chargers RB:

Melvin Gordon

The rookie running back has run 78 times for 299 yards with no touchdowns. He is averaging just 3.8 yards a carry.

San Diego Chargers WR:

Keenan Allen

The Chargers leading receiver has been listed as questionable with a sprained hip injury. He has caught 53 balls for 601 yards and three touchdowns.

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