As sure as the NFL regular season will end and the playoffs will arrive, the Monday after Week 17 will be full of new hopes for bad teams. Unfortunately, the quickest way to acquire hope in the NFL is to fire a bunch of people. This year we didn’t even get to Monday, with teams already clearing out the coaching staff and starting over before the new year arrived.
Coaching in the NFL is a dream come true-slash-living nightmare, where for every Bill Belichick there’s a hundred Rich Kotites who get a cup of coffee as a head coach, and then are never heard from again.
If you think being an NFL coach is a dream job, think again. Raiders coach Jack Del Rio got a four-year contract extension and fired in the same calendar year. Bruce Arians stepped down as the winningest coach in Cardinals history, even though they’ve had coaches since 1920 and he had only been there for five years. And the three highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL all got their coaches fired.
It’s just part of the lifestyle, though. Coaches know they’re going to be fired. There’s probably a class in coaching college that deals with packing a U-Haul the day the season is over. And every time a coach sees a job opening, they have to consider it.
The best job opening is probably in Detroit, where you have Matthew Stafford, but you also have to contend with Green Bay and Minnesota. And you also have to contend with being the Lions.
And my worst job opening is any one that goes to Jon Gruden. It seems like a stretch to take nine years off in the middle of your career to watch football games without saying a bad word about anyone, and then just pick up your cap and whistle again and get right back out there. But good, bad or ugly, the Raiders need some kind of draw to sell tickets in Oakland, and distract from their mediocre team led by an owner with a sub-mediocre haircut.
On to the playoff picks. For the final week of the season I went 6-2, and 3-5 against the Las Vegas spread. To be honest, I wouldn’t normally be putting any money down in Week 17, which is basically the last preseason game revisited.
I wound up the year 66-45, and a miserable 47-59-6 against Vegas. In four years of making picks for the Tyler Morning Telegraph, I am 135-85 picking games, and 223-222-15 against the Vegas point spreads.
As a side note here, after picking 460 games against the points, I am exactly at 50 percent. Anyone thinking of going to Vegas and parlaying their football acumen into a quick retirement account should probably consider that, and invest instead in a 401(k), or an ice cream truck.
Here’s the picks for Wild Card weekend. Remember, these are for the purposes of discussion only, and may have been affected by the cold snap. As always, no wagering.
Tennessee (+9) at Kansas City: You can pretty much sum up the NFL by looking at these two quarterbacks. Marcus Mariota has been in the league three years, and still has a QB rating right around a number where you feel like you need to put on a light sweater. Meanwhile, Alex Smith had the best QB rating in the league, and this playoff run is just an audition for whoever wants him next year.
Pick: Chiefs to cover, which means I think they’ll win by 10 or more.
Atlanta (+6) at L.A. Rams: Los Angeles loves their Rams, possibly because the 20,000 unsold seats for their home games gives plenty of room for people to take selfies during the game.
Pick: Falcons to win this one in the upset.
Buffalo (+9) at Jacksonville: I can’t tell if the Bills are so overjoyed to have finally made the playoffs again, or if they’re just thrilled they get to leave Buffalo and play in Florida in January.
Pick: Jags to win, Bills to cover, which means I think Jacksonville wins by less than eight.
Carolina (+7) at New Orleans: In my life, I wish that I was as confident about anything as Cam Newton is about everything.
Pick: Saints to win and cover, winning by more than seven.
I’ll also take the Bills-Jags game to go under 40 points, Tom Brady as the MVP, and Alabama to win the National Championship. Good luck everybody, and stay warm out there.
- Reid Kerr talks a lot, as his wife always reminds him. Reid’s second book, “I Hate It Here: A Love Story,” is out now on Amazon.com. You can always tweet questions, comments, and angry messages to him at @reidaboutit.