In this week's edition of The Sandlot (sorry, but teaching 21 credit hours this fall means you get picks guaranteed only, plus bonus rants after Mizzou loses to either a) Nebraska or b) Texas and after Pujols gets screwed out of the MVP because of the retarded unwritten rule that only a player on a playoff team can win the award), we take odds on which NFL head coaches will be next on the chopping block and when they can expect the ax to fall. On with the picks...!
Chicago at Detroit
Now that Matt Millen's gone, Rod Marinelli should go ahead and put his house up for sale. Odds of firing: 85%; timing of firing: end of regular season; Lovie Smith looks safe.
Bears 31, Lions 21 [CHI 34 DET 7]
Atlanta at Green Bay
Atlanta's new coach is so new I can't think of his name; Mike McCarthy's safe in Green Bay because he went "all in" on Aaron Rodgers, who looks like a real NFL QB. Both coaches: safe this year.
Packers 27, Falcons 17 [ATL 27 GB 24]
San Diego at Miami
Miami's coach is hand-picked by Bill Parcells, so I consider him safe this year since that team has no expectation. Norv Turner's toast if the Bolts don't at least make the AFC title game, and even that may not be enough. Turner's firing odds: 60%; timing of firing: after playoff failure.
Chargers 33, Dolphins 20 [MIA 17 SD 10]
Seattle at New York Giants
Seattle's Mike Holmgren has already announced his retirement at the end of this season, so he doesn't count. The Giants will certainly keep Tom Coughlin unless this team has some unforeseen dramatic meltdown, which seems unlikely. Coughlin: safe this season.
Giants 38, Seahawks 14 [NYG 44 SEA 6]
Washington at Philadelphia
Jim Zorn is a first-year coach who shows more than just potential; he could take the Skins back to the Superbowl in a year or two. Andy Reid is an institution in Philadelphia; he will coach this team until he decides to leave—the Eagles' owner has complete faith in him. Both coaches safe this year.
Eagles 27, Skins 24 [WAS 23 PHI 17]
Kansas City at Carolina
I think the Chiefs value stability and recognize that Herm Edwards is rebuilding a very young team. Last week's win over Denver took him off the hot seat. John Fox is probably safe in Carolina, another stable franchise, even if they don't make the playoffs in a much-stronger NFC this year. Edwards: 20% chance of firing after season; Fox: 30% chance of firing if Panthers finish below .500.
Panthers 30, Chiefs 10 [CAR 34 KC 0]
Tennessee at Baltimore
Jeff Fisher's not going anywhere except to wherever they present the "NFL Coach of the Year" award...and just maybe back to the Superbowl. John Harbaugh's a first-year coach with a rookie QB, but he's already exceeding expectations. Both these guys are super-safe.
Titans 23, Ravens 19 [TEN 13 BAL 10]
Indianapolis at Houston
I have a very strong feeling that Tony Dungy will retire after this season, especially if they don't make the playoffs. It may be time for a change in Indy. Tony looks tired, and so does the team. Gary Kubiac probably hasn't had a fair chance to win in Houston, and with the hurricane this year, his job is probably safe. Chance of Dungy fired: none; chance of Dungy retiring: 70%; chance of Kubiac fired: 25%.
Colts 24, Texans 20 [IND 31 HOU 27]
Tampa Bay at Denver
Mike Shanahan's title is "Coach for life" in Denver. Chuckie's safe in Tampa, too, especially since they look like the favorites in the NFC South. Both coaches safe.
Broncos 41, Bucs 33 [DEN 16 TB 13]
Buffalo at Arizona
Dick Jauron has a legitimate chance to dethrone the Patriots in the AFC East. He looks safe...duh! Ken Whisenhunt has Arizona on the rise--at least offensively--but never underestimate the chances of the Bidwell's stupidly firing a good head coach. Jauron: safe. Whisenhunt: 15% chance of firing if Arizona misses playoffs.
Cardinals 34, Bills 27 [ARZ 41 BUF 17]
New England at San Francisco
Who is the head coach in Frisco now? I honestly can't think of the guy. Whoever he is, he ought to be kissing Mike Martz's big white butt with serious enthusiasm, because Martz's offense has made the Niners potentially relevant again. I guess that Belichick guy's probably safe, too, ya think? Niners' anonymous coach: 10% chance of being fired and replaced with Mike Martz. Belichick: -5000% chance of ever being fired again.
49ers 31, Patriots 17 [NE 30 SF 21]
p.s. I looked it up; his name is Mike Nolan. Oh, yeah.
Cincinnati at Dallas
This is an interesting game because you have a legitimate Superbowl contender in Dallas and a legitimate train wreck in Cincy, and both of them are highly likely to jettison their head coaches. Win or lose, I think Wade Phillips will either retire after winning a Superbowl or get fired after failing one more time to please his monomaniacal owner, Jerry Jones. Dallas is moving into a billion dollar new stadium next year, and if Jason Garrett isn't their new head coach, I'll pick the Rams to win the Superbowl next year. As far as Marvin Lewis is concerned, I don't think he'll make it to December. Wade Philllips fired/retired after season: 90% chance; Marvin Lewis fired in-season: 80% chance; after-season: 100% chance.
Cowboys 45, Bengals 16 [DAL 31 CIN 22]
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
Two young coaches, both of whom aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Both coaches safe.
Jags 27, Steelers 21 [PIT 26 JAX 21]
Minnesota at New Orleans
The reason that the Vikings don't have a quarterback is because Brad Childress convinced himself and the organization that Tarvaris Jackson was ready to be the starting quarterback. The window of opportunity in the NFL is very narrow (see St. Louis, 1999-2002). The Vikings have maybe two years after this one to get to the top before they have to start over. If TJ is not the answer, then Childress has to pay the price. Then again, these are the Vikings. Chances Childress gets fired: 20%; How much Childress deserves to be fired: 95%; New Orleans' Sean Payton looks safe this year.
Saints 20, Vikings 9 [MIN 30 NO 27]
This week: 8-6
Last week: 9-4
Season: 47-27 (.635)