To help me stay objective when writing for Doc's, I don't actually bet that often. But when there's something I feel very strongly about, I certainly do. And I am happily counting my winnings right now from betting that Miami's Joe Philbin would be the first NFL coach fired this year. He was on Monday, the second straight year that a coach was canned after a Week 4 loss in London and ahead of his team's bye week. In 2014, the Raiders fired coach Dennis Allen after his team was embarrassed by Philbin's Dolphins 38-14 in London.
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Sunday's 27-14 loss to the Jets at Wembley Stadium dropped the Fins to 1-3 and Philbin to 24-28 in his tenure there. Over the last three weeks, the Dolphins have faced quarterbacks Blake Bortles, Tyrod Taylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick and lost to them all -- not exactly Pro Bowlers there. Entering those games, those three quarterbacks had a combined career record as a starter of 38-68-1. Tight ends coach Dan Campbell will serve as Miami's interim head coach for the remainder of the season -- rather unusual the team wouldn't promote a coordinator but that tells you how bad things are. Rather humorously, many Dolphins fans are calling for the team to re-hire Nick Saban. Do they not remember how he fared there from 2005-06? Some candidates being rumored already are former Lions coach Jim Schwartz, former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, Stanford's David Shaw and UCLA's Jim Mora Jr. Owner Stephen Ross is a huge Michigan booster and tried to get Jim Harbaugh last year -- doubt he would leave Michigan now.
Here are some Week 5 games and opening lines that caught my eye. As usual, I will not touch on the Thursday game, my featured Sunday game (probably Seahawks-Bengals) or the Monday night game.
Cardinals at Lions (+3, 45.5): Obviously this line could change depending on what the Lions do Monday night in Seattle -- lose I assume. Now that Philbin is gone, the next fired coach might be Detroit's Jim Caldwell if the Lions do fall Monday and then here. Everyone was busy saying how good the Cardinals were and then they went out and lost 24-22 at home to St. Louis on Sunday. Rookie Todd Gurley gashed that defense for 146 yards rushing. Arizona entered that game 11-for-12 in the red zone in terms of touchdowns but was just 1-for-5 against the Rams. Detroit lost 14-6 in Arizona last season. Key trend: Lions 5-5 ATS in past 10 as home dog. The pick: Lions barring a major injury on Monday.
Patriots at Cowboys (+7.5, 49): This was to be the final game of Tom Brady's original four-game suspension. And it might have been the highest-rated game of the season if Tony Romo were healthy; Brady vs. Brandon Weeden isn't all that exciting. Weeden has now lost 10 straight starts following Sunday's defeat to the Saints. That ties him with ex-Jaguar and current 49ers backup Blaine Gabbert for the longest such streak among active QBs. The Cowboys welcome two key players off suspension in this one: defensive end Greg Hardy and linebacker Rolando McClain. Will the Cowboys have middle linebacker Sean Lee? He suffered a concussion against New Orleans. Dallas won't have running back Lance Dunbar. They fear he suffered torn ligaments in his knee while returning the opening kickoff of the second half in the overtime loss to the Saints. He was on pace for an NFL record for catches in a season for a running back before Sunday's game. Patriots are off their bye week. Key trend: Dallas is 6-4 ATS in past 10 as home dog. The pick: Give the points -- hoping for 7 at some juncture.
49ers at Giants (-7, 43): Great taunt by the Packers' Clay Matthews on Sunday as he told San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick that "you ain't Russell Wilson, bro." Classic. That came after Matthews sacked Kaepernick in the third quarter and mocked his trademark biceps-kissing celebration. Kaepernick just isn't very good these days. He completed only 13 of 25 for 160 yards with a pick in the 17-3 loss to Green Bay. Kaepernick completed just three passes at least five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, and his interception came on an underthrown long pass to Anquan Boldin. That's his third game without a touchdown pass this season and third with 165 yards or fewer passing. Do the Niners actually think about benching him for Gabbert? Key trend: New York 5-5 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 7 points. The pick: Giants.
Redskins at Falcons (-8, 47.5): What the heck has gotten into Atlanta running back Devonta Freeman? He had his second straight three-touchdown game in Sunday's blowout win over Houston. Freeman is the only player since at least the 1970 merger to rush for at least three touchdowns in each of his first two career starts. Freeman, who leads the NFL with seven rushing touchdowns, is the first player to rush for at least seven TDs in his team's first four games to start a season since San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson 10 years ago. Julio Jones was quiet in the win with only four catches for 38 yards. Washington beat Philadelphia 23-20 on Sunday thanks to a Kirk Cousins 4-yard TD pass to Pierre Garcon with 26 seconds left. Key trend: Atlanta 3-6-1 ATS in past 10 as home favorite of at least 7 points. The pick: Redskins cover.
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