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NFL Mailbag: Coaches on the Hot Seat and Playoff Predictions

The questions have been pouring in and as usual, I’m happy to answer them. This week saw many close finishes as well as dominating performances by some of the leagues best.

So here we go:


Answer: Well I can appreciate the compassion, the Oakland Raiders upset over the Kansas City Chiefs just continues to display how the crazy and bizarre the 2014 NFL season has been. As the saying goes… Any Given Sunday.

The Raiders saw the bright lights of primetime over the black hole at the Oakland Coliseum and thought it would be a nice time to end a losing streak that was over a year long, against a 7-3 Chiefs team that was fresh off a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

Oakland was carried by a rookie, who only got four touches the entire game. After just 10 carries for 54 yards in his first 10 career games, 2nd year running back Latavius Murray busted out touchdown runs of 11 and 90 yards in the first half, building a 14-0 lead. Murray would miss the rest of the second half after suffering a game-ending concussion on his first carry of the third quarter.

With Murray out, the Raiders could only manage 50 rushing yards in the entire second half, which allowed the Chiefs to get back in the game. In rainy and muddy conditions, the Oakland defense was able to hold the Chiefs to just three first half points. When the rain stopped, the Chiefs went on touchdown drives of 65 and 60 yards that put the Chiefs up 20-17 in the fourth quarter.

In the end, kudos has to be given to rookie quarterback Derek Carr. Carr looked like a seasoned veteran on a 17 play 80 yard touchdown drive against the number one pass defense in the NFL. Carr found first-year Raider James Jones for the game winning score to win the ball game.

Overall, the Raiders aren’t unfamiliar to the primetime lights. Last season in week six, Oakland beat the San Diego Chargers 27-17. If I’m a Chiefs fan, I wouldn’t think to much of this game. It was on the road and in the division which are the toughest games to play in the NFL. At the end of the year, Kansas City will still be in the playoff hunt, whether it is for a wild card berth or a division title really comes down to this Sunday Night’s game at home against the first place Denver Broncos.

Question: Mike Smith blew that game for Atlanta with his clock management. Is there a good chance he’ll be fired? -Tim

No question Mike Smith is one of top names in the head coaching carousal that seems to be on their way out the door come late December. Since being just one fourth down conversion away from a Super Bowl birth in 2012, the Falcons have gone 8-19 under Smith, with some of the best offensive weapons around in quarterback Matt Ryan and two pro-bowl receivers in Julio Jones and Rhoddy White.

Sunday marked the second time this season the Falcons have lost on a last second field goal, and the ninth time in the past two seasons they have lost by one score. Also, Smith has yet to lead a Falcons defense ranked higher than 24th in the past three seasons.

Despite the struggle of the Falcons, Smith’s saving grace could be winning the NFC South this season that has combined for just 13 wins total this season. Atlanta is 4-0 against the division this season and if Smith has any hope for keeping his job it will be to win the division and somehow win a playoff game.

Question: The Rams are playing great against good teams, will they contend for the division if they find a good qb? -Jack

Absolutely. The Rams have a middle-of-the-pack defense, but the offense has been horrendous, ranking 27th this season and 30th last year. Quarterback Sam Bradford hasn’t been the answer the Rams expected since being drafted in 2010. Bradford missed seven games in 2013, six games in 2011 and will not suit up at all this season.

If they can find a good quarterback, this team is built to do some damage with talented receivers like Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. Not to mention, they are stocked at running back with four different runners with less than three years in the league.

It is hard to deny the fact that the Rams couldn’t be contenders with wins over the Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers this season.

Question: Is Bill Belichick the coach of the year? -Larry

It is hard to deny how good Belichick is with winning seven straight games after a 2-2 start and an awful 41-14 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs.

However, Coach of the Year award has to go to Bruce Arians this season, guiding a Cardinals team with limitations to a 9-2 record. Arians gets the nod because in his second season with his star quarterback Carson Palmer only playing in six games and out for the season, they sit two games in front of the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks in a competitive NFC West.

Question: Is there any stopping the Patriots? -Stan

As it looks right now, no. Everyone looks at the Patriots as a high-powered offense led by future hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady. However, the New England defense has quietly turned heads this season, startling the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning in a 43-21 win and holding the powerful Detroit Lions offense to just three field goals last season in a 34-9 win last week.


With the Patriots already tallying wins against the leaders in the other three AFC divisions, it seems as if no one will be able to stop this team. We will get a better look at how good the Patriots really are when they travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers this week. A venue where Green Bay is 5-0 this season, averaging just under 44 points per game.

Question: Have you ever seen a more impressive catch than Odell Beckham’s? -Derek

No. Beckham’s catch against the Cowboys on Sunday Night was the most outstanding catch I’ve seen in the NFL. Sure there have been other amazing one-handed catches like Antonio Cromartie‘s interception and DeAndre Hopkins earlier this season, but the fact that Beckham’s catch came when he was interfered with, makes it even more incredible.

Question: The Seahawks manhandled the Cardinals so is Arizona in trouble? -Filipe

I think this game was more of the Seahawks defense finally reverting back to the “Legion of Boom” defense a year ago, holding the Cardinals to only 204 total yards and just three points.

Arizona isn’t in trouble, but the heat has definitely been turned up on them. Three of their final five games will come against division opponents and they will have to start being more consistent on the offensive side of the ball. Don’t forget, the Cardinals were without pro-bowl wide out Larry Fitzgerald in the loss in Seattle.

Question: If Lynch leaves the Seahawks next year, where could/should he sign? -Filipe

Many reports have surfaced about Lynch departing Seattle, despite leading the NFL in touchdown runs (9) and is fifth in the league in rushing yards (852).

Lynch was very upset when the Seahawks traded wide receiver Percy Harvin in mid-October and the running back was also fined 100 thousand dollars for not talking to the media. These incidents have many people believing Lynch could be on his way out of Seattle.

A few names that could make sense for Lynch to end up would be the Minnesota Vikings, who may be without all-pro running back Adrian Peterson. Another team that could benefit from Lynch could be the Indianapolis Colts, who have been riding the legs 2012 first round draft pick Trent Richardson in the backfield, but he has only averaged 3.2 yards per carry in his stint with the Colts, and has yet to crack the 100 yard in any game wearing Blue and White.

Question: MVP at the moment – Brady or Rodgers? -Harken

Wow what a tough call. Since week four, these two have led their teams to a combined 13-1 record. If I have to pick one I would say Rodgers.

Statistically, Brady has just 41 more passing yards, but Rodgers has four more touchdowns and three less interceptions. Rodgers also is the NFL‘s league leader in overall passer rating (119.3) and yards per attempt (8.65) and his 30 touchdowns is second only to Peyton Manning‘s 34 touchdowns.

This Sunday’s PatriotsPackers matchup will go a long way to decide who is the MVP of these two gun-slingers.

Question: There doesn’t seem to be anyone at the moment more threatening as a wide receiver than Antonio Brown – agree? -Bill

To an extent yes. However, Demaryius Thomas of the Denver Broncos has been just as lethal as a pass catcher. Thomas and Brown each have nine touchdown receptions this season, with Brown having six more total catches and Thomas with 31 more yards.

In Brown’s defense, Thomas does have Peyton Manning throwing too him, who most would agree is better than Ben Roethlisberger. However, Brown has made the Steelers’ offense even more threatening as the number one target while Thomas is accompanied by former Steeler Emmanuel Sanders who is having a career year.

Question: Predictions for all 12 playoff spots – go!

AFC: 1. New England (13-3) 2. Denver (12-4) 3. Indianapolis (11-5) 4. Cincinnati (10-5-1) 5. Pittsburgh (10-6) 6.) Kansas City (10-6)

NFC: 1. Green Bay (12-4) 2. Arizona (12-4) 3. Dallas (12-4) 4. New Orleans (8-8) 5. Seattle (11-5) 6. Philadelphia (10-6)


Cover Photo: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Shelby Dermer

Shelby Dermer

Editor-in-Chief at Sports Grumble
Shelby is a junior studying Journalism at Ohio University. A graduate of Waynesville High School, Shelby did football and baseball play-by-play for Waynesville and had his own sports column in the WHS Spartacus Newspaper while also playing basketball for the Spartans. Now at Ohio, Shelby covers Ohio University Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball, and softball for Speakeasy Magazine where he is the sports' editor. He is an enormous fan of the NFL and MLB and writes Cincinnati Bengals/Reds articles as editor-in-chief of Find Shelby on, as well, where he also serves as editor-in-chief. Shelby is a frequent commentator on discussing sports-related news. Follow Shelby on Twitter @scdermer4
Shelby Dermer

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