NFL Week 12 Winners and Losers: Marvin Lewis out, Scott Linehan on the rise


Before we look ahead to next week, let’s pause and reflect on some things from Week 9 as we take a gander outside the box score.

Loser: Green Bay Packers

They might have been able to sneak out a win on Monday Night Football, but at what cost? The season is still essentially lost, as the Packers needs everything to happen in order to get a crack at the postseason. The wheels need to fall off in Minnesota and Detroit if the 5-6 Packers want a shot at the division. A Wild Card slot means drop offs by the Buccaneers, Giants, Redskins and Saints.

It’s all possible, as nothing is predictable in the NFC. But the Packers are clawing away to break even in a season they’d be better off just throwing in the towel. This way, Mike McCarthy can be fired, Aaron Rodgers can hand-pick his next head coach and Green Bay will have a choice draft selection this spring to grab Leonard Fournette, Jabrill Peppers or any of the top prospects that can help what has been a team in desperate need of depth and adjustments.

Winner: Seattle Seahawks

It’s hard to say you’re a winner when you only score 5-points against the Buccaneers, but that’s what Seattle is. Everyone is focusing in on the fact that they lost to the Bucs — which is an insult to Tampa Bay, but I’ll leave the homer hat in the closet for the moment. Seattle has endured a brutal stretch in their schedule, bouncing from coast-to-coast since Week 8 with games in New Orleans, New England and Tampa Bay. They have to head back home next week to host the Panthers before to Green Bay — the merciful end of that back-and-forth stretch.

But aside from making excuses with the schedule, the Seahawks are pulling off something incredible. They’re the No. 2 seed in the NFC at the moment, yet they’re starting to fly under the radar as favorites. Pundits are questioning them after their loss to the Bucs, doubting they’re a team that can make a Super Bowl run. That’s dangerous, and could be the type of motivating factor that spurs a run out of the Seahawks this postseason.

Loser: Denver Broncos

Trying to figure out the Broncos is a fruitless task. they’re going to do whatever they want and nobody can do a damn thing about it — not even themselves. There is no way the Broncos should have lost that Sunday night game against the Chiefs, but not even physics were on their side.

While Denver has been impressive this season defensively, it seems we’ve all been waiting to see when the wheels would fall off. They won’t come flying off like they have in Cincinnati and likely will in Houston, rather the Broncos will have a slow burnout this season. They’re already on the outside of the playoff picture, and even if they get in they’re far from favorites. A Wild Card matchup with Houston or Baltimore is no sure thing, even with their vaunted defense, and we could be looking at this Broncos team being added to the collection of Super Bowl winners to completely miss the playoffs the year after.

Week 13 NFL Head Coach Hot Seat

The coaching hot seat is starting to get more than a little warm for these underachievers:

1. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals 

The aggressive step back the Bengals have taken this year is so severe that it’s now time to wonder if the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati is over. He’s the longest tenured coach in the NFL next to Bill Belichick, but without any of the success. Paul Guenther taking a promotion from defensive coordinator to head coach might be the change the Bengals need while not messing with any of the continuity.

2. Jeff Fisher, Los Angeles Rams

Remember when Jeff Fisher said he wasn’t going to settle for some “7-9 bullsh-t”? Remember when he was going to get that extension after getting shut out in Week 1? Fisher has been a disaster for the Rams this year, and it might finally be setting in that he’s not the guy to lead this team into the future.

3. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

Ol’ Chucky has been flying under the radar as far as his job security is concerned. The Colts are in the middle of a lost season, but there are other dumpster fires raging a lot hotter that are drawing attention away from him. Pagano has gone from a guy who would be a headline firing to someone who could pack up and be gone, Mayflower-style, with little more than a whisper.

Way Too Early Playoff Simulation

It’s only Week 12 in t he NFL, but it’s never too early to pump out some playoff simulations.

Wild Card: Chiefs over Texans, Dolphins over Ravens; Giants over Falcons, Lions over Redskins

Divisional Round: Patriots over Dolphins, Chiefs over Raiders; Cowboys over Giants, Lions over Seahawks

Championship: Patriots over Chiefs, Lions over Cowboys

Super Bowl: Patriots over Lions

NFL Head Coaches in 2017

There are going to be some vacancies this offseason but who is going to fill them and who are the hottest targets?

1. Josh McDaniels to Los Angeles Rams

He’s already been with the Rams before, but everyone has changed since then. McDaniels has matured and honed his skills, while the Rams — well, they’re still terrible. But together, they could both be something special. Jared Goff is the future of the franchise, for better or worse, and McDaniels seems well suited to step in and try to have some of the Brady shine rub off on the former No. 1 pick.

2. Scott Linehan to Indianapolis Colts

The future of the Colts rests on the shoulders of Andrew Luck, which means Indy needs a quarterback whisperer to replace Chuck Pagano. You could very easily credit Cowboys offensive coordinator Scott Linehan with the team’s 10-1 record, as he took a systems drafted for one style of quarterback and made it work with resounding success with another. Luck had his best success with Bruce Arians in town, and Linehan could tap back into that.

3. Paul Guenther to Cincinnati Bengals

Guenther is already the Bengals defensive coordinator, which seems like a mark against him. But he’s a head coaching candidate and could be in a Dirk Koetter situation where he’s moved to head coach to keep continuity but provide the change needed. So far it’s worked well for Tampa Bay, and it feels like the type of unsexy Cincinnati move that might work.

Future NFL Head Coach Stock Watch

While not candidates at this specific juncture, keep an eye on these guys as the season wears down. They’re all on the fringe of the head coaching conversation and can help their stock in the final weeks of the season.

3. Mike Smith, Buccaneers Defensive Coordinator

Smith isn’t ah come run candidate just yet, but he’s doing special things with a Buccaneers defense that lacks a secondary. He’s a hot name after allowing only 5-points to the Seahawks on Sunday, but the Bucs defense has been playing a lot better as of late. Already a fringe coaching candidate last year, if the success continues Smith could get plucked in the offseason.

2. Teryl Austin, Lions Defensive Coordinator

The wheels looked to be falling off Detroit early on, but they’ve corralled sole possession of first place in the NFC North. The Lions defense isn’t a stout unit, but he could benefit from the team’s ascension.

1. Harold Goodwin, Cardinals Offensive Coordinator

He was a fringe candidate last year, but the struggles Arizona has endured hurt his stock. If he can turn things around, his name could heat up thanks to what he’s done outside of this one bad season.

Things That Will Definitely Happen in Week 13

Let’s close out with a look ahead at some things that will definitely happen next week in the NFL. First, let’s look at Week 11 predictions:

  • The Lions will beat the Vikings and force us all to respect them as division leaders in the NFC North. Nailed it. 
  • Kanas City Chiefs will rebound, exorcising their primetime demons by beating the Broncos. Just barely but it counts. 
  • Cleveland will beat New York and both end their losing streak while also giving us the ultimate Manning Face. I’m doing a Manning Face after losing this one.
  • The Titans will beat the lowly Bears, thus further confusing us all about whether they’ve turned the corner or not. Again, just barely but it counts. 

Alright, as for things that will happen in Week 13:

  • Tampa Bay will continue their winning streak, but people will still refuse to take them seriously.
  • Minnesota will lose to Dallas, but play them close enough to remain in the conversation as a cautionary tale of how quickly a season can go south.
  • The 49ers-Bears game will change lives.
  • Despite getting torched by Julio Jones, the Chiefs will find a way to win on the road in Atlanta.

We’ll have to see how right or wrong these are when Week 13 of NFL action kicks off on Thursday.

Stay safe out there, America.