Is Phillips or Childress next to walk the plank?
Among other topics, Scouts Inc. sizes up the shining Titans and the lowly Lions and Bengals in this week's roundtable.
Which undefeated and winless team will blink first? Who's on the hot seat, and who's ready to just plain heat up? After watching all the film, Scouts Inc.'s pro scouts debate the hot topics heading into Week 8.
Which scenario is more likely: Tennessee goes undefeated or either Detroit or Cincinnati finishes winless?Jeremy Green: First let me say that I don't believe any of those things will happen. Tennessee, in my opinion, is the best team in football today. But the Titans, who will have games when they don't score enough points, simply aren't built to run the table. I also think Cincinnati and Detroit will find a win somewhere along the way. But if I have to pick one, the Lions have the tougher remaining schedule. While the Bengals have games at Houston and Cleveland and a home matchup against the Chiefs left, the Lions don't face a team the rest of the season that hasn't already won at least three games. The odds are against Detroit going winless, but the Lions still must beat an average or better opponent to avoid it.
Gary Horton: Even though the they're playing extremely well right now, the Titans won't go undefeated. With two games against Indianapolis and matchups against Pittsburgh and Jacksonville, a lack of explosiveness in the passing game is bound to catch up with Tennessee at some point. The Bengals could go winless because of a fairly tough remaining schedule, though the Kansas City game certainly is winnable if they decide to play hard. The Lions won't play another game this season in which they'll be favored. Detroit is even more likely to go 0-16 than Cincinnati.
Doug Kretz: The Lions going winless is the most likely scenario. In the history of the NFL, only one team has finished an entire season with an undefeated record: the 1972 Miami Dolphins. The Patriots didn't lose a game until the Super Bowl last season, but I don't like the odds of any team repeating even that feat. Between Detroit and Cincinnati, I think the Lions are more likely to fall short. Their schedule looks tougher and they lack the playmakers the Bengals possess, even in light of QB Carson Palmer's absence.
Ken Moll: I don't believe any of these things will happen, but the best odds are on the Lions. With Millen having been dismissed, the veteran quarterback shelved and dissension all around, this franchise is in disarray. The Bengals have played poorly, but at least can look forward to Palmer's return. Cincinnati is more stable at the top right now, whereas it's uncertain who will be making the tough decisions moving forward in Detroit. And the road for the Lions seems a bit tougher, with out-of-division matchups against the Jaguars, Panthers, Buccaneers and Saints. Few teams have finished a season winless, but even fewer have gone undefeated. The Titans face a tough second-half schedule and are extremely unlikely to finish without a loss.
Tag Ribary: Chances are that none of these scenarios plays out. But after looking at Detroit's schedule, there's no denying that it will be tough for them. The Lions have a difficult stretch of games coming up, and they haven't really established an identity on either side of the ball. Hopefully, the injuries don't pile up on them, because I'm not sure they have the depth to make it through and remain competitive.
Matt Williamson: Tennessee going undefeated would be my last choice of the three, and I think Cincinnati is a little better off than Detroit. The Lions just don't have very good players -- and that's obviously a huge problem. Also, their quarterback play could actually get worse later in the year if they decide to give QB Drew Stanton a trial run. That move would make sense from an evaluation standpoint, but it would hurt their immediate chances to compete. There's just nothing much in Detroit to get excited about.
Several coaches are on the hot seat. Who is next on the firing line?
Horton: Phillips may be the sacrificial lamb in Dallas if the Cowboys continue to lose -- even though firing him wouldn't make a lot of sense. The perception is that this talented team is soft, but Garrett won't provide any more toughness or discipline as a head coach. Brad Childress (Minnesota), Marinelli and Lewis are in deep trouble, but each should make it through the end of the season. Romeo Crennel (Cleveland) and Herm Edwards (Kansas City) also are on the fringes of the discussion, with Mike Holmgren (Seattle) due for retirement and Philadelphia's Andy Reid possibly following his lead. That's a lot of coaching turnover in one NFL season.
Kidd: Man, I still can't believe how many coaches have already been fired this season. Next up? It has to be Childress in Minnesota. The Vikings have underachieved, and Childress missed badly when he decided he could win with QB Tarvaris Jackson at this stage of his career -- essentially a non-move that affected the team's maneuverings at the position in the offseason. It's an attractive job based on Minnesota's talent level. With the addition of a quality quarterback (and maybe another corner, receiver and more speed at linebacker), the next guy in line could be a big winner.
Kretz: The schedule, as much as anything, probably will determine which coach gets the next pink slip. Think of it as a process of elimination. The Bengals aren't likely to eat any contracts in the middle of the season, and the Lions already made their play (dumping Millen), so I think Lewis and Marinelli are safe at least through the season. Childress, at the helm of an extremely inconsistent club, has been under a lot of criticism. But the Browns have been one of the season's biggest disappointments, and Crennel isn't getting much obvious support from GM Phil Savage. I could see Cleveland losing three of four and Crennel being shown the door.
Moll: I hate to speculate about another man's job security, but for the purpose of this exercise I'll say Edwards. He lost his only postseason appearance (to the Colts) in his first year in Kansas City, and it's been all downhill since. With QB Brodie Croyle done, the already-slim chances of this club bouncing back in 2008 are virtually nil. The Chiefs have a storied history and, traditionally, a wicked home-field advantage, but none of that has been evident lately. Edwards is a good man, but it just hasn't worked out.
Ribary: Hopefully, no one else gets fired, but I think Minnesota needs to get the ball rolling quickly to keep that from happening. Childress could be in trouble, because the Vikings have too much talent on both sides of the ball to be falling this short of expectations. The sticky quarterback situation needs to be solved ASAP. QB Gus Frerotte must lift Minnesota into the playoffs or the team basically will be back at square one in 2009.
Williamson: It's Phillips in Dallas. Of the head coaches on the hot seat, he's the one blessed with the most talented roster and cursed with the owner who is most heavily invested. Plus, the Cowboys already have a successor waiting in the wings in Garrett, who is destined to land the job eventually. Rarely am I in favor of a team making a move like this during the season, but in Dallas' case, it would be the right call.
Based on matchups, which player do you think will deliver a big performance in Week 8?
Horton: The right side of the Titans' defensive line -- DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth -- could have a big day against the left side of the Colts' offensive line. Tennessee's defensive line can win with power, but it can also win with quickness. Look for Vanden Bosch and Haynesworth to do some twists and stunts, with Haynesworth attacking the outside gap and Vanden Bosch attacking the A-gap (they can also switch positions). Vanden Bosch is too quick inside for the Colts, and Haynesworth is too powerful off the edge, putting the Colts in a tough situation. The last thing they want to do is leave TE Dallas Clark or a back in to help block.
Kidd: I'm going with Favre versus the Chiefs' defense. The Jets' passing attack and protection schemes were not very effective last week against the Raiders, but I think Favre will come out this week and light it up against a Chiefs secondary that is young and inexperienced. They will have a very difficult time matching up against the Jets' perimeter skills players, especially WR Jerricho Cotchery and Leon Washington.
Kretz: This is pretty much a no-brainer, from my perspective. The Redskins are playing the Lions in Detroit and RB Clinton Portis has averaged nearly six yards per carry while gaining 570 yards in the past four games. Teams tend to run the ball more when playing away from home simply due to the fact that home team crowds make it more difficult to throw due to noise. Portis should run wild against the league's second-worst run defense.
Moll: There are a few matchups that I really like, but I would have to go with the Titans' running back tandem of RBs Chris Johnson and LenDale White versus the somewhat-porous Colts run defense. The Colts' defense got worn out in Week 7 versus a sub-par Packers ground attack, and the Titans love to pound the ball with their 1-2 punch. The Colts' defensive front -- especially along the line -- is undersized and has been pushed around often. The Titans like to impose their will on their opponents in the trenches starting with the ground game, and this week will be no different. Both backs should be very effective in this contest, but if I had to choose one ball carrier it would be Johnson.
Ribary: I think QB Drew Brees could have a big performance against San Diego. He struggled last week, but the Chargers' pass defense is not like the defense he just faced in Carolina. Brees always seems to find a way to get the most out of whichever playmakers he has to work with.
Williamson: It's tempting to take RB Thomas Jones, who will be facing the worst run defense on the planet in the Chiefs. But instead, give me the Texans' quarterback-to-receiver combination of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. Schaub is playing great, and Johnson is an out-of-this-world talent who is simply uncoverable right now. This is a very good offense that should have its way with the winless Bengals.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.