BOSTON (CBS) — There are only a handful of NFL weekends left, and we know that more than a handful of NFL teams are lousy or terrible, yet … we’ve yet to see a coach fired. That’s crazy.
Mike Smith’s Falcons are the biggest disappointment in the sport — and perhaps all of sports — as they went from being one touchdown shy of reaching the Super Bowl to a miserable 2-9 record this season. On the bright side, they’re in position to have a top draft pick. On the not-so-bright side, they have the same record as the Jaguars. I’ve read “War Room,” so I know how much the Atlanta front office loves Mike Smith, but my goodness, how many coaches keep their jobs in that situation?
Gary Kubiak gets a pass because he collapsed on the field in the middle of a game, likely saving him from the chopping block as the leader of the second-most disappointing team in football. The Texans were supposed to be one of the best teams in the league last year, and they even won a playoff game. Now, they’re 2-9 and have seemingly no hope.
Then you’ve got Mike Shanahan, head coach of what seems to be a massive mess down in D.C. A playoff team last year, the Redskins are now 3-8, and the only news you hear about the team is something or another about Robert Griffin’s fragile psyche. The team may be stuck between a rock and a hard place, given that RG III is their franchise QB and they owe a ton of money to Shanahan, but I’m not sure how the organization can believe that their current head coach is the one who can turn that franchise around.
Leslie Frazier is now 18-30-1 as the head coach of the Vikings. He’s still employed. Greg Schiano is 3-8 this year and 10-17 over the past two seasons, and he also seems like a Grade A jerk. Nice hire there. Tom Coughlin could probably the coach the Giants to an 0-16 record (and he was on his way to doing that this season) and not get fired, which makes sense, considering, you know, Super Bowls. Rex Ryan was on every preseason “chopping block” list, but he’s probably gotten more out of a bad roster than any other coach could have. And I don’t know much about Gus Bradley, but I know his Jaguars have been outscored by 182 points this season, which by my calculations is terrible.
Overall, it’s just odd that there’s so much mediocrity and ugliness in the bottom half of the league, and yet nobody’s had to pay yet. Can’t a team just hire Jim Caldwell for a week, then fire him, just for entertainment’s sake? I miss watching that guy looking 97 percent asleep on the sidelines every week.
Granted, I’m one to talk, given my NFL picks record this year, so in honor of another losing week, I’m bringing back the Ridiculous Quotes From Last Week’s Picks. It’s simply been too long.
(Home team in caps; Wednesday lines)
Tennessee (+4) over INDIANAPOLIS
If you’re not officially out on the Colts yet, what are you waiting for?
Fun fact: The Titans are 5-0 against the spread in their last five road games.
RQFLWP: “These are two perfectly mediocre teams [Indy and Arizona], but one needs a couple of wins in order to secure a playoff spot, while the other is destined to go 7-9.”
Note: There’s a good chance that I had these teams reversed in my brain.
Jacksonville (+7) over CLEVELAND
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but hey, the Jaguars are feeling it right now. Finally, the power of their multi-colored helmets has come alive, and if you didn’t know any better, you may even believe they’re a real NFL team. Surely, they’re not, but what are the Browns, really?
One thing’s for sure: The nation will collectively groan every time the RedZone channel switches over to Brandon Weeden dropping back to pass. But hey, congrats to Mr. Weeden for ranking near the top of the league in something.
We always knew you had it in you!
Tampa Bay (+9) over CAROLINA
The Panthers let the world know last week that they’re due to come back to earth a bit, and the Bucs have avoided getting blown out for more than a month. Granted, that blowout loss came at the hands of the Panthers, but things have changed.
New England (-9) over HOUSTON
This spread could be 27 points, and it still wouldn’t be too high. This is just unfair for Houston. Hopefully the fans have fun with their “homecoming” theme though. What a hoot!
The Patriots demolished this Texans team back when they were actually good, beating them 42-14 on the famous varsity jackets fiasco of 2012 and then disposing of them 41-28 in the playoffs. Now, Houston is 2-9, losers of nine straight, and … yeesh. Things are bad. They’re going to get worse.
RQFLWP: “When you’re facing Peyton Manning, it’s the wrong week to be that banged up [in the secondary].”
Note: You, me and your pal Jimmy could have played defensive back last week, given how little desire Peyton Manning had to throw the football.
Chicago (pick ’em) over MINNESOTA
The Vikings are riding the momentum of tying last week. Look out for them!
On a more serious note, the NFL should institute a rule that forces a division to give up its playoff spot if the collective winning percentage of the four teams is as abysmal as the NFC North’s. The four NFC North teams are a combined 19-23-1, good enough for a .442 winning percentage, slightly better than the NFC East’s .432 winning percentage and the AFC South’s ridiculous .364 winning percentage. Gross. This season is gross. Essentially, every good team that makes the playoffs will get a bye, because some bad teams are getting in.
Arizona (+3) over PHILADELPHIA
The Eagles are atrocious at home. A win over the terrible Redskins doesn’t change that.
NEW YORK JETS (pick ’em) over MIAMI
Neither team is all that good, but when the weather starts to turn, it’s always smart to go against the not-so-good warm-weather team traveling to the Northeast.
Atlanta (+3) over BUFFALO (in Toronto)
What a product we are putting on display for Canada, eh? The Bills haven’t been a favorite this year until this week, which says oh so much about how terrible the Falcons have become.
The Bills are 1-4 when they’re the “home team” in Toronto, so I guess you have to hope they’ll be bad yet again? I don’t know. I do know that Torontonians likely see better action in an Argonauts-Roughriders game or a mayoral press conference.
SAN FRANCISCO (-8.5) over St. Louis
It’s time for the 49ers finally look like the 49ers again. It’s not a matter of talent for them; it’s more a matter of discipline and confidence. If they play like they’re capable of playing, they’re a threat to everyone in the league. And hosting the Rams, who have scored 80 points in their last two games, is a good time to show they’ve gotten “it” back.
RQFLWP: “The last time we saw the Rams, they put together a perfect game. That’s not happening again. Not now, not ever.”
Note: OK fine, it was going to happen again. But it can’t happen for three straight games … right?
Cincinnati (+1) over SAN DIEGO
This is the game that literally dozens of fans can’t wait to see. The excitement is palpable.
Denver (-4.5) over KANSAS CITY
The Broncos’ ugly showing at New England last week doesn’t change the simple fact that they’re a much, much better football team than the Chiefs — and that’s when Kansas City has Tamba Hali and Justin Houston at full health.
It’s also been misreported that Peyton Manning played poorly on Sunday night because of the cold. It wasn’t the temperature at all — it was just the wind. That wind was legitimate. Given that Manning’s passes, while deadly accurate, are typically thrown with the same velocity as throws from a high school JV quarterback, strong wind like that is always going to affect him. He’ll be just fine this weekend.
New York Giants (-1) over WASHINGTON
It’s hard enough dealing with NFC East games in prime time when the teams playing are actually good. When it’s the 4-7 Giants vs. the 3-8 Redskins? That’s special right there.
As much as I’d like to go Washington in hopes that Robert Griffin will magically become his 2012 self and be able to entertain me, I just don’t think they look like a team that will win again this season.
RQFLWP: “They both stink. I’ll make this pick based on Eli Manning’s ability to carve up that 32nd-ranked passing defense, just like big bro did back in Week 5.”
Note: Eli’s carving looked like this: 16-for-30, 174 yards, 2 TDs. Not what I was looking for.
New Orleans (+5.5) over SEATTLE
It will take until Monday night, but finally there will be a game worth watching this weekend.
At stake for the Seahawls: Their position as the best team in the NFL. If you look around the league at the other top teams (the Broncos, Saints, Patriots, Chiefs, and Panthers), they’ve all been exposed for having at least one major flaw that led to an ugly loss or two. The Seahawks for sure had their stinker at Indy this year, but they’ve won six straight since then, outscoring opponents 169-98 along the way. At 10-1, they sit atop the NFL looking down. Will the Saints be able to knock them down?
I like their chances. The Seahawks have been dealing with the distraction of drug suspensions all week, and they’ve got the rust factor coming off the bye, so the Saints have an opportunity to hit the ground running and open up an lead. Whether or not it’ll hold, the Saints have two losses this season — one by three points, one by six — and they don’t get blown out.
Last week: 6-8