Four weeks into the NFL season, this has become a gambling ritual — betting on who the first NFL head coach will be to be relieved of his duties in 2019. Setting aside how weird and kind of dirty it feels to bet on the unemployment of other human beings, the good folks at betonline.ag, bless their hearts, don't really have a great grasp on how business is done with the Houston Texans.
Here are the odds:
First head coach to lose his job during the 2019 Regular Season
Jay Gruden 1/1
Bill O'Brien 4/1
Dan Quinn 4/1
Doug Marrone 8/1
Pat Shurmur 8/1
Matt Patricia 10/1
Ron Rivera 10/1
Freddie Kitchens 14/1
Vic Fangio 18/1
Mike Zimmer 20/1
Kliff Kingsbury 22/1
Adam Gase 25/1
Brian Flores 25/1
Matt LaFleur 30/1
Mike Vrabel 30/1
Mike Tomlin 35/1
Zac Taylor 40/1
Jay Gruden as the favorite makes total sense, as the Redskins are a dumpster fire and they play the best team in football this weekend (New England). But Bill O'Brien with essentially the second hottest seat in football? Hey look, I'm not saying that O'Brien doesn't deserve criticism nor pressure. Hell, just read my game recaps from the two home games this season for my feelings on his inconsistency as a head coach.
However, there is no chance that O'Brien is the first head coach fired in 2019, and I would submit there is not even a decent chance that he gets fired at all. Now, if he does, the good folks at betonline.ag have already put together the odds board on his replacement. Here it is:
Texans head coach in Week 1 of 2020 season
Josh McDaniels 5/2
Eric Bieniemy 4/1
Jim Caldwell 4/1
Mike Munchak 5/1
Byron Leftwich 8/1
Mike McCarthy 8/1
Jim Harbaugh 10/1
Mike Gundy 10/1
Jay Gruden 15/1
Breaking down those nine names in ascending order of the violence and riots they would cause outside NRG Stadium if they were hired:
9. Mike Munchak
Former Oiler and Hall of Fame offensive lineman. Not sure how good a head coach he is, but it would be a popular choice initially.
8. Jim Harbaugh
The dream scenario for media in town, and probably a popular pick for fans who don't watch any Michigan football.
7. Eric Bieniemy
The offensive coordinator in Andy Reid's system? Yes, please.
6. Byron Leftwich
The offensive coordinator in Bruce Arians' system? Yes, please.
5. Mike Gundy
The offensively minded head coach of a Big XII, with a killer mullet, to boot? Well not so much "Yes, please," but an intriguing proposal, considering the employment of Kliff Kingsbury in the NFL.
4. Mike McCarthy
How much of the fallout in Green Bay was McCarthy's faulty, and how much was Aaron Rodgers' inability to play nice with others? That would be the topic discussed ad nauseum after a McCarthy hire.
3. Josh McDaniels
McDaniels might be the best candidate on this board, but chasing one Belichick disciple with another would rile the Texans' fan base to no end.
2. Jim Caldwell
Caldwell's players actually seem to like him, and people forget that he has been to a Super Bowl. His statuesque body language and catatonic persona would be a problem, though.
1. Jay Gruden
Ok, let's get onto this weekend's picks. Hey, speaking of Gruden!
Patriots -15 over REDSKINS
When asked who his starting quarterback would be this week, Gruden apparently answered "We don't have a starting quarterback." So all of you UH folks can direct your Keenum-anger at one Jay Gruden! Here's the thing — if it's not Keenum (who has been awful this season), then it's either Colt McCoy (who is awful every season), or Dwayne Haskins (a rookie against Bill Belichick). The Redskins will be lucky to score six points, so I'm fairly confident the Patriots will get to 21. Laying the lumber here.
Falcons +5.5 over TEXANS
I've already posted my preview on this game, so I don't need to throw much detail in here. Just know that this game absolutely terrifies me, as the two hottest non-Jay Gruden seats in the NFL face off Sunday at NRG Stadium.
Ravens/STEELERS UNDER 44.5
The Ravens are the most run heavy team in the NFL, and the Steelers, if Monday's game against the Bengals is any indication, plan on having Mason Rudolph run a pretty short pass happy offense. In other words, the flow of this game should be one where the clock gets chewed up pretty quickly. The Ravens are looking for a bounce back from a bad loss to the Browns last weekend. Low scoring, bruising game here.
Bears/RAIDERS UNDER 40.5 (in London)
Speaking of low scoring, the Bears and the Raiders travel to London this weekend for the first international game of the season. The UNDER is always my lean anyway with London games, but especially here, where the Bears are playing with backup QB Chase Daniel under center, and the abysmal Raiders offense is going up against the best defense in football, which includes Khalil Mack in revenge mode. First one to 17 wins!
Vikings -5.5 over GIANTS
The Giants are vastly more interesting (and dangerous) with Daniel Jones under center, while the Vikings have turned into a cesspool of infighting, after last week's loss to the Bears in which the offense generated six points and almost no passing yards downfield. Vikings star WR Adam Thielen complained publicly this week about the lack of downfield throws, so I would expect the offense to open up a little more this week, and if there is one thing that Vikings QB Kirk Cousins is good at, it's beating up inferior teams.
Cardinals/BENGALS OVER 47
Two winless outfits, two bad defenses, the Bengals on a short week, and the Cardinals playing at 10:00 a.m. their body clock time. Feels like a fireworks show of defensive futility to me!
LAST WEEK: 2-4
SEASON NFL ATS RECORD: 14-10 (58.3 percent)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.