Posted 12/27/2010 at 05:04 PM
The coaching chopping block is picking up steam with four coaches already on the move with games still to be played. That number could double by the end of the season as the situations in Houston, New York, Carolina, San Diego, and Cincinnati are not looking stable. Those cast aside could emerge as candidates for the various openings as there are simply not that many proven coaches available. Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, and Jim Harbaugh will be the three big names to lead most discussions but it seems like none of those three will make a move unless it is an ideal situation. Look for some recycling as Tom Coughlin, Marvin Lewis, John Fox, and Gary Kubiak would likely be candidates assuming they are released from their current positions. While it initially looked like Jason Garrett and Leslie Frazier would be locks to remove interim status, sloppy efforts in recent weeks may leave some doubt for those positions. Coordinators likely to get interviews include Brian Schottenheimer of the Jets, Rob Ryan of the Browns, and Ron Rivera of the Chargers, as well as a couple of past head coaches currently on staffs including Dom Capers, Gregg Williams, and Marty Mornhinweg.
The playoff picture appears to be taking form with a couple of big games last week. Green Bay is in the driver’s seat for a wild card, with a win next week against Chicago ensuring a spot. The Packers will be a dangerous team in the postseason and would win tiebreakers with Tampa Bay and New York, who currently share the same record. Tuesday’s game between the Eagles and the Vikings will mean a lot as the Bears lock up the #2 seed in the NFC with an Eagles loss, likely putting the Packers in a more favorable spot for the finale.
The Colts got the win they needed last week while also watching the Jaguars lose but if the results flip this week, Jacksonville will take the division title. The 49ers, Chargers, and Raiders whiffed last week hoping to keep division title hopes alive, giving Kansas City the AFC West and leaving this week’s primetime game between St. Louis and Seattle to decide the NFC West. The Jets and Ravens are in as AFC wild card teams and both could be favored on the road in their opening playoff match-ups. In the NFC most assume the Saints are in but should New Orleans lose Monday they will face a tough game with Tampa Bay with a lot on the line. Should the Saints lose that game as well, New Orleans would be behind the Giants, Packers, and Buccaneers in tiebreaker scenarios should the Giants and Packers win next week, so both Super Bowl teams from last year are still not safely in the postseason. One win in either game get the Saints in however.
Among the teams out of the playoffs, keep an eye on teams that finish strong as they may be overvalued next year. Last season Houston won its final four games of the season to be touted as a serious playoff contender this year, falling flat again. The Titans were also a hot late season team last year that was overrated heading into the season. In the NFC San Francisco is a great example of a team that was overrated based on winning some games late in the season against bad teams. Be weary of overvaluing teams like Detroit, Dallas, Buffalo, and Denver next year should they win this week to end on high notes. On to this week’s slate…