In Big Play
Derek Carr meets with his DC4Kids supporters in Fresno, California on Saturday, June 24, 2023, and discusses his time with the Raiders and joining the Saints. Photo/Fresno Bee

Think the Las Vegas Raiders will improve over last year’s performance? More to the point, can they be the most improved NFL team in 2023-24?

If you really think so, you can bet on it — and get +4000 or 40-1 at DraftKings.

The Raiders finished 6-11 last year including three straight losses to finish the season. So it would seem as if they have considerable upside potential. Will Jimmy Garopollo vs. Derek Carr as signal caller plus other personnel changes be enough to make the Raiders the most improved team?

“Our quarterbacks will ultimately be judged like the head coach will be — how many games do we win or lose,” Josh McDaniels told Raider Nation this week. “Really like Jimmy Garoppolo, I’ve obviously been fond of him since we drafted him in New England. He’s got a lot of strengths that’ve obviously been on display in San Francisco for the last so many years.”

As Raider Nation reported after Derek Carr was released, the Silver and Black will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2014. And it will be McDaniels’ fifth straight season with a new starting quarterback.

Expectations are high. The +4000 is tempting. But is it enough?

Or are Carr and the New Orleans Saints a better bet? They are currently at +850 to be the most improved team the next season. They were 7-10 last year so their upside is also seemingly high.

“We had a great offseason as a team, really came together and the work on the football field is very competitive,” Carr told the Fresno Bee at an event for his foundation.

The shortest odds for most improved team goes to the Chicago Bears at +210. After a 3-14 season, bettors obviously see considerable upside.


— Finally a cover: Once again, the Las Vegas Aces are playing winning basketball. Yet once again, the Aces are frustrating bettors looking for a cover on their betting tickets or better numbers in their digital account.

The Aces bolted to a 57-43 halftime lead — and a first-half cover of -10 — in their first game with the Indiana Fever last weekend. But ultimately, they failed to cover -15.5 even though they won the game, 101-88.

In the rematch 48 hours later, oddsmakers dropped the line to -14.5. This time, the Fever led at halftime, 49-48 and made it interesting in the final minutes before the Aces finally won, 88-80, but never came close to covering the double digits.

“It was a tough game, an ugly game in a lot of areas,” coach Becky Hammon told reporters after the game. “They’re not all going to be pretty, so I kind of like those games that test your toughness, test your togetherness.”

On Thursday, the Aces finally got their cover. And they made it look easy.

Laying -6.5 vs. the New York Liberty, the Aces rolled to a 49-42 first-half lead and were never headed en route to a 98-81 win. In fact, they covered the first-half line of -3.5 as well.

The Aces (13-1, 7-7 ATS) next host the Eastern Conference powerhouse, the Connecticut Sun (12-4, 8-7-1 ATS), at noon on Saturday. No line yet available for the game. However, there’s this statistic to consider: The Aces own a +15.4-point differential, widest in the WNBA. The Sun are next at +5.7.

 — Fight Night: It’s a battle of middleweights at UFC Fight Night on Saturday at the Apex facility in southern Las Vegas.

Sean Strickland pits his 26-5-0 record on the line vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov, who is 25-4-1. Strickland is generally the favorite in the -170 to -175 range with Magomedov +140 to +150. Station Casinos has the total rounds Over 3.5 at -145 and Under +125.

— October baseball: Sure the World Series is fourth months away, but futures odds are moving around for teams to win it all. The Atlanta Braves, +400; the Tampa Bay Rays, +500; the Los Angeles Dodgers, +600; and the surprising Texas Rangers +1000 currently lead the pack, according to

A post at Covers suggests there might be value in the Baltimore Orioles at +2500.

And the Oakland-Vegas bound-Athletics? They’re dead last in the futures market at +200000.

“I thought he (pitcher Hogan Harris) managed the game pretty well,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay told reporters after a 10-4 loss to the Yankees on Thursday. “Going back out for the sixth inning, I still felt good about him. Unfortunately, that inning got away from us.”

Sort of like the season you might say.

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