I will get to the immediate Week 8 player and team props in my second specials preview story here at Doc’s, but first I want to look at some interesting specials this week from Bovada that are more geared toward the end of the 2012 season/beginning of next.
One of the big stories this season has been the regression of 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton, as the Panthers, a chic playoff team, are 1-5 and going nowhere fast. The team fired general manager Marty Hurney this week. Needless to say, Coach Ron Rivera is now on the hot seat. He met with owner Jerry Richardson on Monday, and all Rivera would say afterward was that he would coach like his job was at stake the next 10 games. He also promised he might make changes to his own staff or with some players if the losing continues.
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If I am Rivera, I would be concerned because Richardson might want to bring in an offensive mind to work with his franchise player Newton – Rivera is a former NFL linebacker and defensive coordinator. Richardson could throw money at someone like Jon Gruden or Oregon’s Chip Kelly (wow, Kelly/Newton pairing blows my mind). And there’s always Bill Cowher, who seems to be linked to the Panthers annually because he lives in North Carolina. Cowher reportedly was the top target to replace John Fox before the Cats settled on Rivera.
Bovada offers a prop on whether Rivera will be Carolina’s coach in Week 1 next season: “yes” at -130 and “no” at -110. Rivera does have two years left after this one on his $11.2 million contract, and no owner likes to eat that sort of money. But, as the Charlotte media reported, Richardson forced his own sons out a few years ago. My guess is Carolina will have to finish 6-10, last year’s mark after also starting 1-5, for Rivera to keep his job. I don’t see that happening as Carolina has road games at Chicago (this week), Washington, Philadelphia, San Diego and New Orleans. The Panthers won’t be favored in any of those, although maybe they will be at Kansas City, their lone other away game. And Carolina also has to play good teams Denver and Atlanta in Charlotte. Bet against Rivera.
Meanwhile, the other coach on the hottest seat right now is Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur. The guy who chose him, Mike Holmgren, already has been let go by new Browns ownership. In an earlier props story, I wrote that Shurmur probably would be the first NFL coach fired this season if the Browns went into their Week 10 bye without a win. Well, they beat Cincinnati on Oct. 14 but then lost at Indianapolis last week for the Browns’ 11th straight road loss. Shurmur made a very questionable decision to punt on fourth-and-one in Indianapolis territory with a little more than six minutes left in that one. Cameras panned to new owner Jimmy Haslam, who folded his legs in his suite and frowned at the call. With the Chargers this week and Ravens next, it looks like Cleveland will be 1-8 at the bye week.
Bovada offers a prop on whether Shurmur will be Cleveland’s coach in Week 1 next season: yes at +150 and no at -180. If I had a kid and had a college fund for said child, I would bet it all on no. It’s a lock Shurmur is gone. Look for Gruden rumors there too as he’s an Ohio native.
Meanwhile, I might sell my car to bet on this Bovada prop: Will Matt Cassel be a member of the Chiefs in Week 1 next season? No at -130 and yes at -110. Coach Romeo Crennel is starting Brady Quinn over a healthy Cassel this week and says that’s the plan moving forward. That tells you two things: Crennel himself is desperate and Cassel’s a goner after 2012, guaranteed. He has two seasons and $17 million remaining on the six-year, $63 million contract he signed in 2009. His salary increases from $5.5 million in 2012 to $7.75 million 2013. Cassel has earned an absurd $46 million or so for 44 mostly lousy starts in Kansas City.
Honestly, I think Chiefs ownership wants the team to lose out so it can get the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 draft and take Matt Barkley. I fully expect Quinn to stink as usual and the team to see if Ricky Stanzi can be a legitimate NFL backup. A more interesting prop would have been if Crennel and GM Scott Pioli are back next year.
Sticking with the Chiefs, do you realize the team has yet to take the field with a lead this season? How is that possible, you ask, considering Kansas City is 1-5? It’s because the Chiefs beat New Orleans 27-24 in overtime in Week 3 and, thus, never took the field actually ahead – the Saints already had their OT possession, so under the new rules it was a sudden-death situation when K.C.’s Ryan Succop hit the winning 31-yarder.
According to the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs have played 368 minutes, 33 seconds this season: They’ve trailed for 287:43 (78 percent) and have been tied for 80:50, but the score was 0-0 for 55:07 of that time. The best summation of the Chiefs’ season came in their Week 5 home loss to Baltimore. The score was tied 3-3 as Kansas City kicked off to open the second half. K.C’s Terrance Copper forced a fumble on the return and the Chiefs had the ball at the Ravens’ 29. Eventually they had it first-and-goal at the 1. So what happened? A fumbled snap between center Ryan Lilja and Cassel. Ravens recover.
Bovada offers a prop on whether the Chiefs lead at any point this week vs. Oakland: yes at -250 and no at +170. I have little faith in Quinn but less in the Raiders – they have trailed in every game this season. So go yes there.
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