*SPECIAL NOTE: In wake of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, my site manager, who lives in New York, obviously has far more important things to be dealing with than this website. As far as I know he and his family are safe, which I hope is the case for everyone who was in the hurricane’s path.
So for this week I’ll be posting my predictions here in the ‘Survivor’ section, but it will return to the “Weekly Football Predictions” drop down section next week.
‘Head’ Coaches will Roll After an Interesting Week 8
The playoff picture might not be any clearer after 8 weeks, but what is apparent is which coaches are most likely out of a job at season’s end. For some it’s merely a formality, their only around because it doesn’t make much sense for teams to make in season coaching changes. For others it will take an improvement of epic proportions to save their jobs.
Dead Men Walking
Romeo Crennel – Kansas City: This is sad, because as this is his second kick at the can (he was fired in Cleveland) I can’t ever see him getting a head coaching gig again. He’s a great defensive coordinator, but clearly that skill suffers when he becomes a head coach.
But he really signed his death warrant, when he said he “didn’t know why a healthy Jamaal Charles got only 8 touches” following Sunday’s 26-16 loss to Oakland. Not playing your star is bad. Appearing as if you don’t know why certain personnel decisions are being made is worse.
Start packing your bags for New England. Belichick will gladly have you back as D-coordinator next year.
Pat Shurmur – Cleveland: Yes Cleveland has been competitive in every game this season despite a 2-5 record. Sure he has rookies starting at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. No, I’ve not forgotten it’s only his second year on the job. But the fact remains that with president Mike Holmgren let go, and a new owner coming in next year, the new Brown’s regime will want their own people running the team. I suppose an eight or nine game winning streak to end the season could save him, but when’s the last time any team in Cleveland did 8 straight of anything except losing?
One Foot in the Grave
Andy Reid: Philadelphia: I love Reid. He takes a lot of flack, but I don’t know of many people that could have kept the Eagles as good for as long as he has. That being said, Sunday’s loss might have been a harbinger of worse things to come. Before that game Reid had been an amazing 13-0 off of bye weeks. Not only did that string end, but the game was never in question in Atlanta’s 30-17 win.
Obviously you don’t get fired for one loss, but Reid has been in trouble since failing to lead the highly talented, highly paid Eagles to the playoffs last season. This seasons 3-4 start hasn’t helped either. Losing that post bye week game seemed to knock the last bit of fairy dust off his shoulder. He can’t fly high above his detractors anymore.
If the Eagles make the postseason and win a game or two, he’s safe. Absent of that he’ll be coaching somewhere else next year.
Rex Ryan – NY Jets: I don’t put this one on Ryan. I think he’s been saddled with a bad quarterback ever since he’s been there and a front office unwilling to admit it. In addition, the Jets lost their best offensive and defensive players in Santonio Holmes and Darrelle Revis for the year, so a 3-5 record is not all that surprising.
The problem for Rex is that he was more than willing to be the boisterous face of the franchise when they were winning, which makes him the biggest target now that they’re losing. And no matter who you’re missing, losing 30-9 at home to a division rival thats starting a backup QB is not acceptable.
An 8-8 mark could save his job, or there’s a small possibility Mark Sanchez could be let go as this season’s scapegoat. Personally I think they’ll be sharing the same plane ride out of town at the end of the year. Rex is skinny enough to share that seat now.
Norv Turner – San Diego: Zombie’s are all the rage these days and Norv’s the NFL’s version of the the Walking Dead. No matter how much the Chargers underachieve year after year they still can’t kill him. He actually overachieved at the beginning of the season winning 3 of 4, but 3 losses in a row including blowing a 24 point lead to Denver has made them the AFC’s biggest disappointment yet again.
But none of this matters. His fate is tied directly to general manager AJ Smith. Smith is notoriously stubborn, and seems to defend bad decisions just to prove a point. If Smith goes, Turner goes, and I think Smith has worn out his welcome in southern California.
Should but Won’t
Jason Garrett – Dallas: The only person less likely to admit his mistakes than AJ Smith is Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones. You only have to look at his insistence on sticking with perennial disappointment Felix Jones (a personal selection of Jerry’s) to know that.
So this bodes well for head coach Jason Garrett, whom Jones wanted in that position years before Wade Phillips was released from the job. Garrett will have to be monumentally bad over the last 8 games to mess this up.
My Week 9 Predictions
I’ve been hovering just above .500 with my selections over the last 3 weeks, so in an effort to shake things up I thought I might Malcom Gladwellize my process. Meaning i’ll analyze the numbers a little less and follow my gut a little more. Unless of course I lose 9 games this week, then it’s back to the numbers.
KANSAS CITY at SAN DIEGO: Last chance saloon for both these teams. KC (1-6) is the bigger mess, I like the Chargers (3-4).
ARIZONA at GREEN BAY: Remember when the Cardinals were 4-0? welcome to the NFC West basement Arizona (4-4), I’m picking the Packers (5-3)
DETROIT at JACKSONVILLE: This makes me queasy, but I’m tired of being screwed by the Jags (1-6). I’ll reluctantly take the Lions (3-4). Megatron finally breaks out and makes the difference here.
CHICAGO at TENNESSEE: The Bears (6-2) got a scare last week against Carolina. Lovie Smith won’t let them look past the Titans (3-5) as well. Hasselbeck’s a step slow and can’t handle good defenses anymore and if Locker’s back he’ll be rusty. Another score for the Bears defense as they get the win.
DENVER at CINCINNATI: The Broncos (4-3) are on the road after playing Sunday Night, while Cincy (3-4) is at home coming off a bye. AJ Green has had two weeks to stew after getting shut down by Pittsburgh’s Ike Taylor. Good luck Champ Bailey, I’m going with the Bengals.
CAROLINA at WASHINGTON: Two weeks ago Washington (3-4) blew a last minute lead at NY. Last week 10, yes 10 dropped passes, including three in the endzone cost them a victory in Pittsburgh. This team is better than their record suggests. The Panthers (1-6) despite a fine effort last week in Chicago are not. I’m taking Washington.
BALTIMORE at CLEVELAND: The Raven’s are no longer as good as their 5-2 start, but also aren’t as bad as the their 30 point loss two weeks ago in Houston. If the Ravens had played last week I’d take Cleveland (2-6), but combine the fact their off a bye and Cleveland has their bye coming up forces me to pick Baltimore. Teams about to have a week off are only 6-12 this season.
MIAMI at INDIANAPOLIS: In the battle of two of the AFC’s biggest surprises, I like the Dolphins (4-3) to get it done. Their run defense is smothering and their pass defense is improving. Luck and Wayne will keep the Colts (4-3) close, but it won’t be enough.
BUFFALO at HOUSTON: Both teams are off byes. Houston (6-1) had a week to rest. Buffalo (3-4) had a week to worry. Houston wins easily.
MINNESOTA at SEATTLE: You’re going to put a dome team outdoors in the rain, in front of the loudest fans in the league, facing an angry defense that was uncharacteristically embarrassed last week in Detroit? Marshawn Lynch will gash this run D and his D-Line teammates will beat up Christian Ponder. Seattle (4-4) manhandles the Vikings (5-3).
TAMPA BAY at OAKLAND: Sometimes sports is just a game of matchups and this is not a good one for Tampa Bay (3-4). Unlike Minnesota, Oakland (3-4) can exploit Tampa’s suspect pass defense. Oakland also has a solid run defense which, should be even more successful given Tampa’s loss of Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks to injury. The Raiders improve to .500 with the win.
PITTSBURGH at NY GIANTS: The Giants (6-2) just played a quarterback (Tony Romo) who seems to find creative ways to lose. This week they face a Steelers quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) who finds creative ways to win.
With all thats surrounded the city on NY in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, certainly much more important than pro football game, I don’t know how the Giants focus during weekday practices. That being said the release of pent up emotion could rule the day. With much trepidation, I’ll pick the Steelers (4-3).
DALLAS at ATLANTA: Are the Falcons (7-0) better than we thought or is last week’s opponent, the Eagles just a lot worse than we think? It doesn’t matter, because either way Atlanta’s not losing at home. The Cowboys (3-4) lose their second in a row.
PHILADELPHIA at NEW ORLEANS: I believe it will take 10 wins to make the playoffs in the NFC, so if the Saints (2-5) lose this game they’re all but out of the race. A good friend told me you don’t pick a team because the ‘have to win’, you take them if you think they will win. I don’t think they will win. The Eagles (3-4) are the better of two bad teams so I’ll ride with Philly.