When you look at any list of coaching hot seats in the NFL for the coming season, there are the usual list of candidates: Cincinnati's Marvin Lewis, Dallas' Jason Garrett, San Diego's Mike McCoy, Jacksonville's Gus Bradley, L.A.'s Jeff Fisher and Buffalo's Rex Ryan.
But Green Bay's Mike McCarthy? If that guy was made available, he would be out of work for about 30 seconds. The Packers were supposed to be a dynasty after winning the Super Bowl following the 2010 season with quarterback Aaron Rodgers in his prime. And while the Pack have returned to the playoffs every season since, they haven't made it back to the big game and have reached just one NFC title game. So the heat is on McCarthy a bit.
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Last season, Green Bay finished 10-6 and saw its run of four straight NFC North titles end thanks to a stunning Week 17 home loss to Minnesota, the division champion. Everyone in Green Bay blames that disappointment on the season-ending injury to top receiver Jordy Nelson in the preseason, but I think things are a bit deeper than that. The Pack did win in Washington on wild-card weekend and almost pulled out a miracle win in Arizona in the divisional round thanks to Rodgers' second Hail Mary TD of the season, but the Cardinals won 26-20 in overtime. It was the Packers' third straight playoff loss on the game's final play, which is amazing.
Rodgers is starting to enter the back end of his prime as he will be 33 in December. And Packers fans are tired of these disappointing playoff results. Plus, you hear rumors that Rodgers and McCarthy have had their problems as have McCarthy and GM Ted Thompson. There often comes a point where a coach simply is in one place too long and that could be the case in Green Bay if McCarthy doesn't do something special this year.
Green Bay was 5-3 on the road last season, 5-3 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Pack face just two away playoff teams this season in what looks on paper to be one of the easiest road schedules of any team. The home slate is harder by far. I predict Green Bay to go 6-2 away from home. The Packers have a wins total of 10.5 at BetOnline, with the over a -170 favorite. And they are going over that total if they win six road games. Odds listed below for the home team.
Sept. 11 at Jaguars (+3.5, 47): It's going to be quite hot and humid in Jacksonville this time of year; the Packers haven't played in a game with a kickoff temperature of at least 88 degrees since 1991 in Tampa. And the Jags are definitely not pushovers any longer. Key trend: Pack 6-4 ATS in past 10 September road games as a favorite of at least 3.5 points.
Sept. 18 at Vikings (pick'em): Sunday night game and the opening of Minnesota's new domed stadium. The Vikings are off a Week 1 trip, and probably win, at Tennessee. It's only the second time in franchise history the Packers open with consecutive road games. The other was in 1924.Green Bay won 30-13 outdoors at the University of Minnesota in Week 11 last year. Rodgers threw for 212 yards and two scores and Eddie Lacy had 100 yards on 22 carries. The Packers sacked Teddy Bridgewater six times. Key trend: Green Bay 6-4 ATS in past 10 at Minnesota, although obviously different stadiums.
Oct. 30 at Falcons (+4): This has to be the longest gap in the NFL this season -- I can't remember a longer one since I've been doing this -- between road games. That's because the Pack have four home games and a bye following that trip to Minnesota. They are off a Week 7 Thursday night game vs. Chicago. Atlanta is home to San Diego the previous Sunday. The Packers have won four straight in the series, most recently 43-37 at home in December 2014. Rodgers threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Key trend: Pack 3-7 ATS in past 10 at NFC South teams.
Nov. 13 at Titans (+7.5): With that huge stretch of home games, you knew it was going to come back with a long stretch of away games and that starts here. But at least none on the West Coast. Green Bay is off a Week 9 home game vs. Indianapolis. Tennessee is in San Diego the previous Sunday. Green Bay has yet to win in Tennessee since the Titans moved there. Key trend: Pack 5-5 ATS in past 10 overall as road favorite of 7.5 points.
Nov. 20 at Redskins (+2.5): Sunday night game. Washington is off a home game vs. Minnesota. Green Bay won at Washington 35-18 in last season's wild-card game, rallying from an 11-0 second-quarter deficit. The Packers sacked Kirk Cousins six times. Key trend: Pack 5-5 ATS in past 10 at NFC East teams.
Nov. 28 at Eagles (+3.5): Monday night game. Philly is in Seattle the previous Sunday. New Eagles coach Doug Pederson was a long-time backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay. The Packers won the last matchup, 53-20 at home in November 2014. Rodgers passed for 341 yards and three touchdowns. Key trend: Pack 1-6 ATS in past seven in Philly.
Dec. 18 at Bears (+5): Green Bay off a potentially huge home game vs. Seattle in Week 14. Chicago is off a trip to Detroit. The Packers have won five in a row in Chicago. It was 31-23 in Week 1 last year. Rodgers threw for three scores, two to James Jones. Key trend: Pack have covered four straight in Chicago as a favorite of at least 3 points.
Jan. 1 at Lions (TBA): Again, no Week 17 lines with too many intangibles. Green Bay hosts Minnesota the previous Saturday. Detroit is on a short week, visiting Dallas on Monday in Week 16. The Packers beat the Lions in Detroit on a Thursday in Week 13 last year, 27-23 on a Rodgers 61-yard incredible Hail Mary to tight end Richard Rodgers. Green Bay had trailed by 20 midway through the third quarter. It was the first successful Hail Mary in Aaron Rodgers' career, he said. But of course it wouldn't be the last. Key trend: Pack 7-3 ATS in past 10 in Detroit.
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