Posted 12/30/2013 at 05:48 PM
Black Monday threw in a few surprises with Rob Chudzinski fired in Cleveland after just one season. Given that the Browns had to work with three different quarterbacks this season due to injuries and the front office traded its starting running back early in the season, it was a tough ouster for a team that seemed resigned to be playing for next season anyway. Next season Cleveland will have its fourth different coach in just six seasons. Jim Schwartz, Greg Schiano, and Leslie Frazier joined Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak with potentially more moves on the way as the annual turnover on the sidelines remains large. Results can go either way as patience has been rewarded for teams like Carolina and Cincinnati, sticking with head coaches even after some disappointment but the turnaround for first year coaches each year always leaves organizations believing they can get that quick fix. Mike McCoy, Andy Reid, and Chip Kelly all took teams to the playoffs in year one with their current teams. Add in the still vacant spot at the University of Texas and there will be several high profile hires in the coming weeks and it remains to be seen what kind of impact it will have on the playoff race with some of those assistants certainly being considered.
We wound up hitting four of our six season win total predictions in the NFL this season, now 57-25-2 in those picks the last 14 seasons for a nearly 70% success rate. Key things to look for are teams that overachieved or underachieved the previous season and who will benefit in scheduling next season. Detroit and Houston certainly appear to be very attractive landing spots for a new head coach with the pieces in place for a big improvement immediately as both teams had far better statistics than the records. Three of this season’s big risers, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Arizona, may be the best candidates to regress after benefitting from 4th place schedules this season. The Ravens, Dolphins, and Giants are all teams that could see improvement in record next season, getting third place schedules next season after posting respectable results this season in just missing out of the playoffs.
The Seahawks and Broncos are the clear favorites to win the Super Bowl but the oddsmakers have #5 seed San Francisco as the third team in line in the futures odds despite a difficult road path that may be ahead as #2 seeds New England and Carolina are not getting great respect. 10 times in the last five seasons a wild card team with superior record has gone on the road against a division champion with a worse record, the situation the 49ers and Saints are both in this week. The home team with the lesser record has won in seven of those 10 games, a key point of contention for those calling for changes to the playoff format. More pressing may be changes to some of the archaic officiating rules and replay limitations however after some glaring high profile mistakes in recent weeks. Best of Luck and on to this week’s slate…