The 2014 season is barely a quarter of the way through, but the NFL has already seen its first coaching casualty in Oakland.
Since speculating and wishing for coaches to be dumped is a passion of many fans and writers, this week’s Against The Spread speculates on those sitting on the hot seat, or with eyes wandering to their next destination.
Week 5 record: 10-5
Season record: 44-31-1
Indianapolis Colts (3-2) -3 at Houston Texans (3-2)
I am an impressive 29-14-1 against the number the past three weeks despite picking Tampa, Washington and Minnesota who all proved to be on the wrong side of TNF blowouts. Can I take the right team on Thursday for once? With a little Luck and a blue horseshoe.
ATS pick: Colts
New England Patriots (3-2) -3 at Buffalo Bills (3-2)
Rumors of Tom Brady’s demise proved to be greatly exaggerated on Sunday night. Same can be said about Buffalo coach Doug Marrone, who was near the top of everyone’s dead pool after a rough preseason and a reported training camp argument with team officials. A 3-2 start helped squelch that for now, and knocking off the Patriots and claiming the top spot in the AFC East would be as cold as a blustery October wind off the Niagara.
ATS pick: Bills
Carolina Panthers (3-2) +6.5 at Cincinnati Bengals (3-1)
The Bengals and Cardinals did their part to put an early end to the ridiculous annual talk of a team going undefeated. Marvin Lewis continues to enjoy the job security of a tenured school teacher, but the final battery acid test will be winning that elusive playoff game. The Bengals have to get there first, and the immediate future may be rough with receiver A.J. Green likely on the shelf for a few weeks.
ATS pick: Panthers
Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2) +1.5 at Cleveland Browns (2-2)
The Browns are another team with a huge potential statement home game against a divisional nemesis this week. With two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl title to his name, Mike Tomlin has more rope than most coaches.
ATS pick: Browns
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-5) +6 at Tennessee Titans (1-4)
We eagerly look forward to this Thursday night tilt later in the season. We all knew Gus Bradley had a massive rebuilding plan ahead of him, but at 4-17 he has to start showing progress soon. I will make a bold prediction: Jacksonville gets off the schneid this week.
ATS pick: Jaguars
Green Bay Packers (3-2) -3.5 at Miami Dolphins (2-3)
A “home game” in London allowed Joe Philbin to cool a few of his critics with a win. But things heat up again in South Florida as his former employers in Green Bay pay him a visit. In a soft AFC East, contention should be expected.
ATS pick: Packers
Detroit Lions (3-2) -1.5 at Minnesota Vikings (2-3)
It’s a job that does not get compensated nearly as well as head coach, but the job requirements of NFL kickers demand near perfection, and 4-for-12 was unacceptable for Nate Freese and Alex Henery. The Lions were fortunate that Matt Prater landed on the waiver wire this week.
ATS pick: Lions
Denver Broncos (3-1) -9.5 at New York Jets (1-4)
The seat has been warm for Rex Ryan for quite some time, but intensified with a 31-0 loss in San Diego amidst reports of discipline problems involving quarterback Geno Smith. Now Peyton Manning and company visit the Meadowlands. If Denver puts up a big number would that be the final straw for Rex?
ATS pick: Broncos
Baltimore Ravens (3-2) -3 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4)
There is one Harbaugh who will not be going anywhere in the foreseeable future, as John is likely in Baltimore for the long haul. Tampa has improved the past few weeks and Lovie Smith is not the Greg Schiano circus. He will get a pass for this year.
ATS pick: Buccaneers
San Diego Chargers (4-1) -7 at Oakland Raiders (0-5)
The question in Oakland is now who will eventually succeed current interim coach Tony Sparano? Raider Nation can dream, but it won’t be Jon Gruden and it won’t be Jim Harbaugh.
ATS pick: Chargers
Chicago Bears (2-3) +3 at Atlanta Falcons (2-3) – Playoffs were the realistic expectation for both of these teams coming into the season, and one of them will obviously fall to 2-4 this week. That will be bad news for either Mike Smith or Marc Trestman.
ATS pick: Falcons
Washington (1-4) +3.5 at Arizona Cardinals (3-2) – The Cards are decimated by injuries at quarterback and on the defensive side of the ball, but will get well fast against Jay Gruden’s squad this week.
ATS pick: Cardinals
Dallas Cowboys (4-1) +8 at Seattle Seahawks (3-1)
A strong start has gotten the heat off of Jason Garrett for now, but he is just a quick three-game losing streak away from renewed scrutiny. Obviously Pete Carroll ranks last in the hot seat rankings right now.
ATS pick: Cowboys
New York Giants (3-2) +3 at Philadelphia Eagles (4-1)
As the oldest coach in the league, there is always talk of when Tom Coughlin might decide to step down. It will likely be on his own terms, especially after the Giants have turned things around over the past three weeks.
ATS pick: Giants
San Francisco Giants (3-2) -3.5 at St. Louis Rams (1-3)
Between the National League Championship Series and Monday Night Football it will be San Francisco at St. Louis for three straight nights. Jim Harbaugh in 2014 has quickly become Mike Holmgren circa 1998. There will no doubt be more reports about Harbaugh’s future over the weekend. Then there is Jeff Fisher, who enjoyed the security of a tenured state employee during his time with the Tennessee Titans. The Rams are in a tough division, but are getting decent quarterback play. Fisher’s excuses are running out.
ATS pick: Rams