1:17 p.m. Eastern
-Arizona fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt, Adam Schefter reports.
1:10 p.m. Eastern
-San Diego announced that coach Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith have been fired. Bruce Arians and Jay Gruden could be candidates for the Chargers.
-Arizona fired GM Rod Graves, Adam Schefter reports.
-Falcons OC Dirk Koetter will interview for the Eagles’, Chiefs’ and Browns’ coaching vacancies, says Alex Marvez.
-Mike Munchak’s staff in Tennessee will be evaluated, says Albert Breer.
-Dallas will likely hire an offensive coordinator to take play-calling duties away from Jason Garrett, says Ian Rapoport.
-Tennessee will keep head coach Mike Munchak but not exec Mike Reinfeldt, says Jim Wyatt.
-Miami will keep Jeff Ireland as GM.
11:45 a.m. Eastern
-The Jets have a staff meeting at 1 p.m. according to Ian Rapoport. Coaching changes could happen then.
-The new head coach in Kansas City will help determine the fate of GM Scott Pioli and the new GM in Jacksonville will help determine the fate of coach Mike Mularkey, says Adam Schefter.
-Chan Gailey along with his staff have been fired by the Bills.
-Cleveland will hire a coach before a GM, says owner Jimmy Haslam.
10:58 a.m. Eastern
-Buffalo announced that it fired head coach Chan Gailey.
-ESPN has four possible Jets GM candidates.
10:45 a.m. Eastern
-Ian Rapoport and Albert Breer of NFL Network both report that the Bears have fired head coach Lovie Smith.
10:40 a.m. Eastern
-Chicago has sent forms to other teams requesting permission to interview head coaching candidates, according to Adam Schefter. That means Lovie Smith will almost certainly be out with the Bears.
-San Diego is not interested in Andy Reid, says ProFootballTalk.
10:35 a.m. Eastern
-Bears assistants are worried and “it does not look good” for head coach Lovie Smith, says Ian Rapoport.
-Jon Gruden has contacted some assistant coaches if he does take a head coaching job, Alex Marvez reports.
-Mike Mularkey thinks he’s safe as Jaguars head coach, Jay Glazer says.
10 a.m. Eastern
-The Eagles have officially announced that Andy Reid has been fired as head coach after 14 seasons.
-Philadelphia and Cleveland will both go after Chip Kelly as well as Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, says Jason La Canfora. The Eagles also like Bengals OC Jay Gruden, the brother of Jon.
-Cleveland and Jacksonville are interested in Arizona exec Steve Keim, who could get a promotion with the Cardinals according to Jason Cole.
9:35 a.m. Eastern
-Jacksonville has fired GM Gene Smith, Adam Caplan reports. Two candidates to replace Smith could be Tom Gamble of the 49ers and Alonzo Highsmith of the Packers, says Jason La Canfora.
-Gamble will also be on the Jets’ short list to replace GM Mike Tannenbaum along with Brian Gaine of Miami, says Albert Breer.
-Caplan also says that the Cardinals could make a few changes today.
-NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that Cleveland already has four coaching candidates including Saints assistant Aaron Kromer. Breer also says that Oregon head coach Chip Kelly will also be on the list.
9:25 a.m. Eastern
-After a disappointing 6-10 season, the Jets fired General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano, the team announced. Rex Ryan will remain head coach.
-Kansas City finished at 2-14, the worst record in the NFL, and that led to Romeo Crennel’s ouster after one season, Adam Schefter reports. Amazingly, Scott Pioli will remain the general manager. Schefter also reports that Andy Reid and Norv Turner are expected to be fired today, and that Arizona is meeting with Ken Whisenhunt today about his status as head coach.
-With new ownership in place, the Browns, as expected, fired head coach Pat Shurmur along with general manager Tom Heckert.
Buffalo -3.5 over NY Jets- Both teams are going to make big changes to their teams after this game, but the ground game of the Bills will make the difference as Jet fans grow more dissatisfied with Mark Sanchez.
Philadelphia +7 over NY Giants- The Giants will probably win, but the Eagles and Michael Vick are going to make a game of this. New York’s pass rush has to drastically improve in the unlikely instance they do make the playoffs. But Andy Reid and Vick have won eight of nine against the Giants and will make a game of this.
Miami +10.5 over New England- The Pats will have something to play for if the Texans or Broncos lose, but the Dolphins can stop the run and force turnovers. New England will probably have to throw all day to make this a blowout, and I see the Phins keeping this within single digits.
Cincinnati -2.5 over Baltimore- These two teams might see each other again next week, but since the Bengals don’t want to go into Denver or New England, they’ll be far more motivated to win this game. The Ravens will play a vanilla game without Ray Rice and Cincy will win.
Pittsburgh -10 over Cleveland- Former Duke QB Thaddeus Lewis starts at QB for the Browns and this Ben Roethlisberger guy starts for the Steelers. That is all.
Houston -7 over Indianapolis- A win gives the Texans the top seed and a loss means that Houston likely plays Cincinnati in the first round. Houston is super motivated to win this game and will pull out all the stops to top the Colts, and they’ll do it by getting its first ever win at LucasOil Stadium.
Tennessee -4.5 over Jacksonville- This is a large line because of how atrocious the Titans are, but expect a big time game from Chris Johnson. That should be enough to make up the line, no?
Chicago -3 over Detroit- As long as Jay Cutler makes fewer mistakes than Matthew Stafford, two of the most mistake-prone QB’s in the game, the Bears defense should be enough to put Chicago in position to reach the postseason.
Green Bay -3.5 over Minnesota- Unfortunately for the Vikings, the Packers have something to play for today: the second bye in the NFC. Adrian Peterson may have to break the single-season rushing record for Minnesota to win and reach the postseason but the Vikes will come up just short this season.
Tampa Bay +5 over Atlanta- The Falcons have nothing to play for and will likely treat this like a preseason game. Greg Schiano will have his Bucs playing hard and will feel good going into the offseason with a win over the conference’s regular season champions.
New Orleans -5 over Carolina- The team knows it will have Sean Payton back and Ron Rivera will reportedly be fired after the game, and this could turn ugly if the Panthers don’t run the ball for 200-250 yards. Look for the Saints to win by double digits.
Denver -16 over Kansas City- The Broncos remember how it almost lost its last meeting in Kansas City and Peyton Manning will be playing at home for the AFC bye while knowing the opposing tendencies from the last game. The only way the Broncos don’t cover is if they take their foot off the gas in the 4th quarter and let KC hang around.
San Diego -9.5 over Oakland- The Chargers will win going away in Norv Turner’s final game as coach, with Phillip Rivers putting up the strong game the team has needed all season that would have allowed Turner to remain in place.
Arizona +16.5 over San Francisco- I’m expecting a bit of fight from the Cardinals in this game, even with the Niners going all out to win the division. San Francisco will win comfortably but not by this much with the division and possibly a bye on the line.
Seattle -10.5 over St. Louis- Sam Bradford in Seattle with the Seahawks having a lot to play for, potentially? Not a good formula for the Rams. The Seahawks will blow the Rams out and continue to be the team no one wants to play in the postseason.
Washington -3 over Dallas- In Robert Griffin III’s first game on NBC prime time, he’ll play like the star he’s been all season and deliver Washington’s first NFC East title since 1999. Dallas’ defense has been porous of late and they won’t make enough plays to stop the Redskins and prevent another disappointing finish to a season.
Chances are that you’re pretty angry right now if you’re a New York Jets fan. The team invested a ton of money, faith and trust into starting QB Mark Sanchez and have been rewarded with below average play for the past two years. Monday night’s game in Tennessee was certainly the tipping point.
Sanchez proceeded to turn the ball over five times, twice in the last two minutes of the game with New York in great position to keep its season alive, in a 14-10 loss that eliminated the Jets from playoff contention for the second straight season. So where do the Jets go from here? Let’s take a look at potential candidates for the team’s starter in 2013:
Mark Sanchez- Bad news, Jet fans. Sanchez’s $8.25 million contract in 2013 is fully guaranteed, so he isn’t going anywhere. Whether the team finds someone better than him to start next season, which is likely given that the team will have a new general manager (and perhaps a new head coach) next season, Sanchez is going to be around in 2013.
Tim Tebow/Greg McElroy- At least one of these players won’t be back next season, and it could be the Jesus-loving sideshow Tebow that gets cut this offseason. McElroy hasn’t really done anything wrong this season except not have a Q Rating good enough (QB rating is another story) to be the team’s signal caller, so conventional wisdom would have Tebow looking for work elsewhere. But people like talking about Tebow, and the Jets want people talking about the Jets. So there’s that.
Michael Vick- This man will be the hottest QB name on the market this offseason, so of course the Jets will at least feign interest through the media. Vick still has some natural athletic ability, but his playing style has gotten him hurt over the years and it’s really starting to take its toll on him. The Eagles seem to have moved on from Vick in favor of rookie Nick Foles, so they could cut Vick this coming offseason for virtually nothing. The Jets love making a big splash, and this would be a sumo-sized cannonball for the club.
Alex Smith- Colin Kaepernick has done better than anyone could have imagined in his five games so far, and no doubt Smith will want a starting job next season. The Jets used an average game manager, Sanchez, to get to two conference championship games and Smith is a much better QB than Sanchez who reached a conference title game of his own last season. As I wrote last month, the Jets could use “a proven winner like Smith who won’t make the mistakes Sanchez did the last two seasons.” Only $1 million of his 2013 salary is guaranteed so he could easily negotiate his release.
Matt Flynn- He was one of the most intriguing free agents last season, and Seattle locked him up not knowing that Russell Wilson would emerge as one of the brightest young stars in this year’s rookie class. No doubt Flynn would like to have an opportunity somewhere, and perhaps the Jets could swing an offseason trade. He’s only guaranteed $2 million next season, so he won’t break the bank as much as people might think.
Matt Barkley- The Jets aren’t going to be bad enough to get West Virginia’s Geno Smith, so why not the second best QB on the board? Will Jet fans be able to get over the fact that Barkley is probably another overhyped USC product like Sanchez was? Probably not, but a rookie like Barkley could be an option if their veteran targets fall through.
NY Jets -3 over Jacksonville- Antoino Cromartie will be able to neutralize Justin Blackmon and the Jets should have a much easier time against the Jags without Maurice Jones-Drew and Cecil Shorts. Chad Henne is familiar with the Jets from his Dolphins days (he’s 3-1 in his career against New York) but he doesn’t have enough help today.
Baltimore +2.5 over Washington- Robert Griffin III didn’t really have a very impressive performance against the Giants and the Ravens will build on the success New York had against him on Monday and parlay that into a tough, hard-fought win. Look for a big game from Ray Rice for the Ravens.
Kansas City +7 over Cleveland- The Browns are “hot,” but I don’t think they can cover this against the Chiefs. Brady Quinn will be fired up against his former team (I’m actually saying this seriously) and Kansas City should be able to run the ball enough to cover.
Pittsburgh -8 over San Diego- The only worry is that the Chargers tend to keep games close, but the Bolts won’t be able to deal with a Steeler defense that’s only improving in health. Ben Roethlisberger will return and Pittsburgh will keep the momentum going after the Baltimore win.
Indianapolis -5.5 over Tennessee- Chris Johnson is really the only player with the ability to keep this game close. The Colts give up 4.8 yards per carry, the third worst mark in the NFL, and the Titans would be wise to exploit that weakness in the Indy defense. Otherwise, it’s Andrew Luck for the Colts and good luck to Tennessee.
Chicago -3 over Minnesota- The Bears defense is playing too well to lose this game, even without Brian Urlacher, and if they can keep Adrian Peterson from getting three TD’s they’ll probably win. Chicago will be able to shut down Christian Ponder and get a good game from Brandon Marshall. Then they’d be in business.
Atlanta -3.5 over Carolina- The Falcons are tied with the Colts at 4.8 yards allowed per carry, which is why the Panthers could keep this game remotely close. Atlanta needs to air this one out and give the ball to Jacquizz Rodgers more to pull away from a Carolina team that could prove tough to blow out.
Tampa Bay -7.5 over Philadelphia- It’s incredible how good a matchup the Eagles are for the Buccaneers. Tampa Bay is number one against the run and their defense can handle a rookie in Nick Foles. As long as the Bucs don’t make killer mistakes, they should pull away at home.
St. Louis +3 over Buffalo- The Rams are decent enough against the run that they have a chance to keep games close against running teams like the Bills. As long as St. Louis takes care of the ball, they’re going to keep this close.
Cincinnati -3 over Dallas- Travelling to play a very good team under tragic circumstances, it just doesn’t seem like the Cowboys have the ability to win a huge road game like this. Ben-Jarvus Green-Ellis and AJ Green should prove too much, along with the emotions for Dallas.
New Orleans +5 over NY Giants- I’m going with the Saints until the Giants can prove they can slow down Drew Brees and this New Orleans offense. New York needs to slow this game down with Ahmad Bradshaw and not make any mistakes. I like the Saints in this one.
Miami +10 over San Francisco- The Dolphins have the ability to stop the run, which is the only reason I think they can keep this game within single digits. The 49ers will absolutely win the game, but Miami has a good shot to cover a big spread.
Seattle -10 over Arizona- The Seahawks have a tremendous home field advantage, and we don’t really know what John Skelton has. It won’t be an easy task returning to the lineup against that Seattle defense in that environment.
Green Bay -6.5 over Detroit- The Lions have not been able to prove they can stop top receivers or seal the deal against the elite teams in the NFL. That trend will continue in Lambeau this evening. Green Bay will be too much on both sides of the ball and will win comfortably.
So, things are starting to get serious, huh? After a critical NFC South game on Thursday, there are several more contests that directly impact both conference playoff races as the regular season’s window of opportunity closes with each passing week.
NY Jets -5 over Arizona- This is not sarcasm: the New York Jets are really good…against bad teams. Luckily, the Cards are one of those bad teams and Gang Green should be able to squeak out the cover. Ryan Lindley is not ready to be an NFL QB and will struggle against the New York secondary. All the Jets need to do is run the ball to win.
Chicago -3.5 over Seattle- I really can’t wait for this game. Two physical teams who can really run the ball. The problem is that Russell Wilson isn’t half as good as he is on the road as he is at home. Wilson won’t be able to hang with the Bears defense and Chicago will get an important win in a potential playoff preview.
Green Bay -8.5 over Minnesota- Greg Jennings returns and the Packers are playing angry after a blowout loss in New York? I wouldn’t want to be the Vikings today in what’s a big game in the NFC wild card race. Adrian Peterson has to dominate for the Vikes to cover.
San Francisco -7.5 over St. Louis- The Rams have played well against the NFC West this season, but the Niners are riding high after winning in New Orleans and Sam Bradford should struggle today.
Kansas City +3 over Carolina- The Chiefs should play inspired football after the unspeakable tragedy that occurred on Saturday, and Kansas City’s defense has some momentum after slowing Peyton Manning last week.
Indianapolis +6 over Detroit- The Lions are essentially playing for pride at this point, but Andrew Luck and the Colts still have a playoff spot to lock down. These two teams can’t run very well, so expect a pass oriented shootout. I like Luck over Matt Stafford.
Buffalo -6 over Jacksonville- Rainy and windy conditions are expected in Orchard Park this afternoon, which favors the better running team. Expect a heavy dose of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson in a Bills win.
New England -7.5 over Miami- This will be closer than people will think because the Dolphins are strong against the run, but they don’t really have an answer for Tom Brady. The Pats’ defense is improving and should do enough for a New England cover.
Houston -6.5 over Tennessee- The Texans will probably screw around enough in this game to keep this in single digits, especially with a seemingly weakening defense (a Wade Phillips trademark) but Houston should win by a TD over the hapless Titans.
Denver -7.5 over Tampa Bay- I am worried about the Broncos’ poor showing against the run last week, a good sign for Doug “insert nickname of choice here” Martin, but it should be too much Peyton Manning for the improving Bucs.
Pittsburgh +8 over Baltimore- I don’t care who’s at QB for the Steelers or how many times they turned it over against Cleveland last week, Every Steelers-Ravens game is close and this should be no different. I’ll take the close game.
Oakland +2 over Cleveland- People are high on the Browns after the win over Pittsburgh last week, but the Raiders are getting Darren McFadden back and Carson Palmer is 9-3 in his career against Cleveland. Gimme Oakland straight up.
Cincinnati -2 over San Diego- The Chargers played well against Baltimore last week but they’re still unable to get it done against a good team like the Bengals. Cincy has an underrated defense and the Bolts won’t be able to stop A.J. Green.
Philadelphia -10.5 over Dallas- Never trust the Cowboys at home, especially with a spread like this. Nick Foles has seen this Dallas defense already and should have a decent enough game to cover here.