Is Panthers coach’s firing first domino to fall?
Will the firing of Carolina’s Ron Rivera just be the first domino to fall in a string of NFL coaches getting dumped?
We can only wait and see.
Panthers owner David Tepper said in so many words that he was doing Rivera a favor by not keeping him around till the end of the season:
“I was informed of other teams doing different types of searches out there and I’m not going to start a search and not tell Ron Rivera,” he was quoted as saying Tuesday in an Associated Press story. “(He’s) too good of a man, and I have great respect for Ron. He’s a great human being and I’m not going to disrespect anybody like that, especially Ron Rivera.”
Just not enough to keep him around as your head coach.
I can make a laundry — or maybe a grocery — list of coaches who are an endangered species as the season is getting close to winding down.
How about every coach in the NFC East — Jason Garrett in Dallas, Doug Pederson in Philadelphia and the New York Giants’ Pat Shurmur.
They can’t really fire Washington’s coach since Jay Gruden was already let go in early October, though they could dump interim head man Bill Callahan, too.
Then there’s the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Atlanta Falcons in the NFC, along with the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC.
It wouldn’t seem right if Cincinnati or Miami blamed their coaches for not even achieving mediocrity, considering the way the Bengals run their organization and the way the Dolphins have been doing everything possible to earn the No. 1 overall draft pick next spring.
But who knows? The nice thing for I think at least most, if not all, of these guys is if they get fired before their contracts are up, they still collect the full amount.
Unlike what the league does to players who no longer serve their purposes.
With that, let’s take a look at Week 14:
Today, 8:20 p.m.
Dallas at Chicago — I like the idea of having two of last week’s Thursday combatants come back and play on the following Thursday. They both got a regular amount of time off between last week and today, then get the extra days after tonight.
I got fooled by the Cowboys last week after Jerry Jones seemed to threaten Garrett’s job. But the level of opposition falls way off from Buffalo last week, so Cowboys, 27-23.
Sunday, 1 p.m.
Carolina at Atlanta — There often seems to be a bounce-back effect when a coach gets canned, and with Atlanta reverting to form last week, I’ll take a flyer on the Panthers, 22-20.
Baltimore at Buffalo — If the field is snowy or slippery or just simply frozen, Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson may not make as sharp of cuts on his patented runs. But he and his defense still have enough to overcome the Bills. Ravens, 24-17.
Cincinnati at Cleveland — When the Browns get deflated, they seem to get angry and play better. Even if that wasn’t so, the Bengals are going to celebrate the end of their oh-for season for a couple more Sundays. Browns, 29-16.
Washington at Green Bay — The Packers really don’t want to finish the season with a .500 record against the NFC East, do they? They’re 2-1 so far, soon to be 3-1? Packers, 31-20.
Denver at Houston — Houston certainly looked like world-beaters against the Patriots last week after Baltimore pummeled them the week before. I could never bet the point spread with any confidence in a game like this, but since I’m only asked to pick a winner, here it is. Texans, 23-19.
Detroit at Minnesota — Are the Lions trying to surreptitiously sneak into the race for the No. 1 draft pick? Those two wins and a tie in the season’s first three weeks are so far back in the rearview mirror, the curvature of the earth makes them no longer visible. Vikings, 33-27.
San Francisco at New Orleans — Despite these teams coming in to this game with identical 10-2 records, I can’t ever see picking against New Orleans at home when they’re playing well. Saints, 20-16.
Miami at New York Jets — I’ve always thought that when two bad teams get together, home field means less than it does between two good teams. However, the South Floridians coming to a now frigid New York doesn’t sound like their recipe for success. Jets, 30-20.
Indianapolis at Tampa Bay — Another matchup of teams going in opposite directions. Tampa’s only losses since the beginning of November have been to the New Orleans and Seattle, two frontrunners to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Indy wouldn’t be mistaken for either of them. Buccaneers, 23-14.
Sunday, 4 p.m.
Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville — These two should car pool since they’re headed down the same road to oblivion at about the same blinding speed.
There’s talk about the Chargers pulling quarterback Philip Rivers in favor of Tyrod Taylor to finish the season, while it looks like J-ville has already done that with the “Mississippi Mustache,” Gardner Minshew, stepping in for a now-healthy Nick Foles. Give me the home team. Jaguars, 28-27.
Pittsburgh at Arizona — I was sorely tempted to pick the Cardinals until I saw that one reason for the revitalization in Pittsburgh is its pass rush. And Arizona’s been known for a leaky offensive line, not to mention a defense that keeps the Lions from being ranked 32nd in the league. Steelers, 34-26.
Kansas City at New England — This pick seems a lot easier to make after the Patriots got exposed last week. Whether that will be a long-term trend or was just a blip on the radar, give me the Chiefs, 28-21.
Tennessee at Oakland — Oakland scares me with their return home, but let’s bet on the rock-solid style Tennessee plays to counteract the Raiders’ flash. Titans, 23-16.
Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Seattle at Los Angeles Rams — These aren’t your 2018 Rams, unfortunately for them, even though they’re still the best team — make that best FOOTBALL team — in L.A. LeBron James never had a letdown like these guys are having this year. Seahawks, 30-23.
Monday, 8:15 p.m.
New York Giants at Philadelphia — Two more teams gunning it in Reverse, so I have to go with the home team to at least figure out where Neutral is on the stick shift. Eagles, 33-24.
Last week — 8-8, 50 percent. Season — 125-66-1, 65 percent.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is email@example.com.