Arguably the most important thing to happen in the NFL this week won't occur on the field but at the ballot boxes in San Diego. Ballot Measure C in that city Tuesday is asking voters whether San Diego's hotel room tax should increase from 12.5 to 16.5 percent, with the proceeds helping fund a new $1.8 billion NFL stadium and convention center complex. The NFL has already promised to put $300 million toward the project, while the Chargers would be expected to put $350 million toward the cost of the stadium.
While most ballots would win with a simple majority, apparently that's not the case in California as this would need two-thirds approval from voters because it's a tax hike for a specific purpose. And it sounds like that's not happening.
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So could the Chargers leave for Los Angeles as soon as next year? Maybe. They do have that option to join the Rams. The clock expires on that option in mid-January (Jan. 15), when it would open a one-year window for the Raiders to decide whether to move back to L.A. But it sounds like the Raiders are dead set on moving to Las Vegas in a couple of years.
If the ballot measure does at least get a strong majority, it might convince Chargers ownership to stick around and try to work something else out. There's a case currently working through the California court system that could potentially lower the threshold for votes needed from two-thirds to a simple majority in a year or two. But if it's not even above 50 percent, the Spanos family might simply give up. There's no question that Qualcomm Stadium needs replacing as it has been around since 1967.
I do think it could affect the on-field product as well. If the players feel like lame-ducks in city and the fan support drops off significantly, that could matter the rest of the way. Or maybe the Chargers pull together and try and reach the playoffs in their last hurrah in the city. The Bolts are playing much better of late and can reach .500 on Sunday as 3.5-point favorites over the visiting Dolphins. Philip Rivers is two TD passes shy of joining the 300-TD club. He would be the fourth active QB to join that club along with Drew Brees (449), Tom Brady (440) and Eli Manning (306). Ben Roethlisberger is closing in as well with 289. I'd give the points to Miami, but it might come down under a field goal.
Here are some Week 10 early lines that caught my eye. I won't touch on Thursday's game (Browns-Ravens), the marquee Sunday matchup (Seahawks-Patriots) or the Monday night game (Bengals-Giants as I will be previewing them here individually. Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis and Oakland are on the bye.
Chiefs at Panthers (-3, 44.5): Kansas City avoided an upset Sunday with a 19-14 home win over Jacksonville. I was worried about backing the Chiefs at -8 there because they were without starting QB Alex Smith and No. 1 running back Spencer Ware due to concussions. Then top receiver Jeremy Maclin aggravated a groin injury in the first quarter and didn't return. The Chiefs finished with only 244 yards in their 10th straight home win. Andy Reid was one of only two coaches with at least 150 victories who had never won 10 consecutive home games in his career, but he's off that list. The other is Bill Parcells, which is surprising. Smith already has been cleared to start this week, but it's not clear yet on Ware or Maclin. Outside linebacker Justin Houston will be activated off the PUP list this week, but the 2014 NFL sack king might not play yet. If he does, it would certainly be limited snaps in pass-rushing downs. The Panthers' offensive line struggled in Sunday's win at the Rams as Cam Newton was sacked five times. Newton had complained publicly over treatment in the pocket, and while it looked like he took two shots to the helmet on sacks there were no roughing the passer penalties called. The pick: Panthers and "under."
Vikings at Redskins (-2.5, 42.5): Matchup of 2015 division champions. The Vikings still lead the NFC North, but they are on a three-game losing streak and their offense is a major problem now. Sam Bradford has reverted to the guy we thought he was and Minnesota simply can't run the ball. The offensive coordinator change didn't help much in Sunday's 22-16 home OT loss to Detroit. That game should have never gotten to OT -- and wouldn't if Blair Walsh hadn't missed an extra point and had a field goal blocked -- with the Lions getting the ball down 16-13 with just 23 seconds left at their own 25. Why do NFL teams go into prevent there? That's what the Vikings did, and Matthew Stafford got the Lions in position for a 58-yard Matt Prater field-goal attempt to end regulation. He made it, and then on Detroit's first possession of OT, two Vikings players terribly missed tackles on Lions receiver Golden Tate on the sideline and he scored a 28-yard TD to win it. If you are wondering, under the current playoff format only four of the 13 teams to start 5-0 or better and then immediately have a three-game losing streak like the Vikings have made the playoffs. That was the 2002 Raiders. Washington comes off its bye week. The pick: Redskins and under.
Rams at Jets (-2.5, 41): This has the lowest total on the board, which shouldn't surprise you in the least if you have seen Los Angeles quarterback Case Keenum and New York counterpart Ryan Fitzpatrick play this season. Both stunk it up again Sunday with the Rams losing at home to Carolina, their fourth straight defeat, and the Jets falling in Miami. L.A. coach Jeff Fisher really must have a low opinion of No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff as I don't know what Fisher is waiting for to make a change. Fisher says Keenum remains his guy. That's simply baffling. Los Angeles is last in the league in scoring and Keenum is the No. 28-rated QB. It's a shame because that defense is very good. Fitzpatrick hurt his knee and came out briefly against Miami so Bryce Petty, a fourth-rounder last year, saw his first NFL action. Coach Todd Bowles says he is staying with Fitz if healthy; apparently he suffered a strain MCL and will play through that. It sounds like Bowles is losing that team as Brandon Marshall and Fitzpatrick were caught in a heated argument on the sideline and defensive linemen Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson were benched for the first quarter vs. the Dolphins for disciplinary reasons. The pick: Jets and under.
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