Before the 2013 NFL season started, you could get odds on which head coach would be the first one fired this season. (I have no idea what it must feel like to have people betting on your employment status, but it's not for me to be the moral compass of wagering. The odds are out there, and therefore we must evaluate them. Sorry.)
The suspects were not all that surprising. Go back and scour the bottom of the standings from the previous season, see which of those guys have been in their job the longest (especially without any deep playoff success), and VOILA! There's your list.
Here was that list back in the 2013 preseason:
Rex Ryan, New York Jets -- 3/2 Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders -- 3/1 Mike Munchak, Tennessee Titans -- 5/1 Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers -- 11/2 Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys -- 15/2 Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions -- 12/1
So who was the winner? Well, "FIELD" if it had been available.
The first head coach fired this season turned out to be the Texans' own Gary Kubiak. I'm not sure how far down that list would have had to extend to include Kubiak, but I think it's safe to say that combining the Texans' Super Bowl dreams with Bob McNair's unflinching patience, Kubiak would have been a "bottom fiver."
Instead, much like Auburn in the BCS title game, the longshot came in.
(By the way, a quick run through that list, and I would guess that of those six guys, three wind up getting fired. Allen and Munchak are near locks. And then one of the Ryan, Garrett, Schwartz trio, in that order of likelihood. Rivera has inexplicably become a larger, Hispanic version of Belichick, all of a sudden.)
So now not only did Kubiak personally destroy everyone's tickets on that "first coach fired" prop, but the search for his replacement has given everybody another way to lose their money. Here is the list and odds, according to bovada.lv:
Lovie Smith 5/2 Art Briles 11/4 Ken Whisenhunt 4/1 David Shaw 5/1 Kevin Sumlin 5/1 Wade Philips 15/2 John Gruden 15/1 Bill Cowher 15/1
My first reaction...Art Briles in second place! Art Briles wasn't even on an NFL radar like two weeks ago, but now with his pet pupil at Baylor (RG3) hating his current head coach, and Briles' showing up at Texans practice the other day, all of a sudden he's second? I guess? This feels like an insider trading thing where they're trying to suck rich Baylor alums in, like the Webistics scandal in Season 2 of The Sopranos. COLTS -5 over Texans You can take the Colts on the strength of the Texans' having never won a game in Indianapolis. You can take the Colts on the strength of their never having lost two games in a row during the Andrew Luck Era. You can take the Colts on the strength of their being 12-0 ATS off of a loss during the Andrew Luck Era. I am taking the Colts based on Wade Phillips' description this week on how things will work functionally on the Texans sideline this weekend:
"Rick Dennison will still be in the booth. We're going to bring Dan Hammer (Hammerschmidt) down on the field and the play calling will go Rick through Karl (Dorrell). And then Karl will also have some input as far as more of the passing game than the running game. Of course, Karl's in constant communication with the quarterback when the quarterback's out of the game and obviously when he's in the game, really. We're going to proceed that way. Defensively, Vance Joseph will probably make the calls defensively with my help, obviously, overseeing him. Again, the running part of the defense, Reggie Herring will be involved in that. We're going to collaborate more."
Maybe it's just the way it reads, and maybe having never been on an NFL sideline I just don't know how it works, but that sounds very convoluted. Almost like it's not an NFL sideline as much as it is Wade Phillips as the professor for a college course for first time play callers and this is the final exam.
GIANTS +7 over Seahawks This is the biggest home underdog that the Giants have been since before Eli Manning was "Eli Manning: Super Bowl winner." At 5-8, their season is basically over, the Seahawks need this game to help clinch home field throughout the playoffs, and this is a ball hawking, pocket collapsing style defense that should give Eli fits. Which is exactly why I'm taking the Giants, because just when Eli is supposed to have a four pick debacle, he throws for 300 yards and the Giants win. Also, the Giants have never finished under .500 during the Eli Era. A win keeps that alive.
49ers -4 1/2 over BUCS On the surface, this is just a 9-4 contender going to visit a 4-9 afterthought in Week 15, but when it comes to betting the spread, this is actually a battle of two of the hottest teams in the NFL! The Niners are 8-2 ATS in their last ten, the Bucs are 5-1 ATS in their last six. I'm taking the Niners on the strength of what they are playing for (staying ahead in the playoff race, momentum) and the weakness of the Bucs as a home dog (5-19 ATS). (By the way, this is why we need a TV network that totally addresses the games from a gambling perspective. If there were, the execs at the Covers Network would shift this game to Sunday night.)
PANTHERS -10 1/2 over Jets The Panthers are in that same playoff gaggle as the Niners and need a win to hang in and get some confidence back after last week's debacle in New Orleans. The Jets actually have the third worst point differential in the entire league, and the rule says this late in the season to always take double digit favorites in inter-conference battles. (I don't know WHY, I just know that's the rule, ok?)
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RAIDERS +4 1/2 over Chiefs This just feels like one of those ugly, sloppy late afternoon West coast games. The Chiefs are 1-12 in their last 13 games they've been favored in the division. Also, the Chiefs took the Redskins to the woodshed last week and the rule says to fade teams the week after they win by 28 or more, especially on the road. And I'm all about following rules.
STEELERS +2 1/2 over Bengals The Bengals are 2-4-1 ATS on the road this season, a big contributor to the stat that the road team is 2-13 ATS in their last 15 in games involving the Bengals. Andy Dalton usually follows a solid home game with a mediocre road game. On Sunday night, this feels lie a night the 5-8 Steelers come to play.
Last week: 2-4 Season record: 35-52-3
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.