The day after the regular season ends in the NFL is still known as Black Monday due to the head coaches being fired. This year, it seems that the trend will be less heavy in the brotherhood of pilots.
Normal, some will say, since 10 new head coaches had been appointed before the current season, which theoretically leaves fewer positions available.
However, of this number, Nathaniel Hackett has already been kicked out with the Broncos. It is not impossible that Lovie Smith will follow him after his first season in charge of the Texans. However, it would be very special for this organization to fire two drivers in two years, but it remains a possibility.
Dennis Allen, with the Saints, is another first-year coach who isn't completely safe. He seemed to rally the troops at the end of the season, but a particular rumor has emanated in recent weeks that Sean Payton could return on board. You will have to see it to believe it!
In the case of both Smith and Allen, for now, nothing is beyond the stage of speculation.
What is certain is that resumes are accepted at the Broncos and the Panthers, who also settled the costly case of Matt Rhule at the start of the season. So that's it for the official openings.
Among those most likely to add to this short list, the first name that comes to mind is Kliff Kingsbury, with the Cardinals. His 28-36-1 record is not only disappointing, but the relationship with quarterback Kyler Murray seems to be deteriorating.
Murray is not without blame, far from it, but his rich contract extension signed last winter means that he will not go anywhere.
There is reason to believe that the experience of Jeff Saturday, hired on an interim basis on a strange impulse from owner Jim Irsay, will not be repeated.
So, in all likelihood, four positions will be open, namely in Denver, Carolina, Arizona and Indianapolis. If no other destinations are added to the list, it would be the lowest total of new positions to fill since 2008, when the Ravens had a lucky hand with John Harbaugh, who still guides their destiny.
Besides the names mentioned, however, we should not rule out a few potential surprises.
If the Cowboys have a quick exit, could owner Jerry Jones turn to Sean Payton by showing Mike McCarthy the exit? Jones and Payton is an apparent love story that never had a happy ending.
Dan Snyder, who is still the detestable master on board at the Commanders, is not immune to a bacon crisis to divest himself of Ron Rivera.
Finally, keep an eye on Rams driver Sean McVay. He is young and respected, but has never hidden that coaching drains all his energies. If an attractive position were offered to him on television, he could be tempted after a trying season. It's unlikely, but not impossible.
As for the candidates who will certainly be considered, several offensive and defensive coordinators are popular at the moment.
On the offensive side, the usual candidates Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs) and Kellen Moore (Cowboys) will be mentioned. To these candidates, we must add Ben Johnson (Lions) and Ken Dorsey (Bills).
On the defensive side, the one who seems to have the most wind in their sails is DeMeco Ryans (49ers). Dan Quinn (Cowboys) could get a second chance, he who had been in charge of the Falcons. Otherwise, Johanthan Gannon (Eagles) and Lou Anarumo (Bengals) are ones to watch.
On the college scene, rumors surrounding Jim Harbaugh at Michigan are already in full swing. The Broncos and Panthers would be interested.
1. Emotion at the Bills
Imagine how palpable the emotion will be for the Bills' duel against the Patriots in Buffalo! All week, the Bills were on the alert before finally receiving good news, Thursday, on the safety Damar Hamlin, who was a hair's breadth from dying on the ground last Monday. There will be infinite love in the air. Do not miss!
2. The final sprint
Before Saturday's duels, no less than 19 teams were qualified for the playoffs or in a position to do so. For a final week of activity, this is the highest number of teams since the 20 that were still in contention, in 2006. It must be remembered that since 2020, the expansion of the series to 14 teams rather than 12 increase the possibilities.
3. Another Quarterback
With the Commanders, Sam Howell will make his debut as a rookie quarterback against the Cowboys. He thus becomes the 65th quarterback to start a game this season in the league, the highest total in the history of the league with the exception of 1987, a season marked by a strike and the presence of scabs.
4. Steelers victory
Facing the Browns, the Steelers will try to win a ninth victory. Whether they make the playoffs or not, that ninth victory would give them 19 straight winning seasons, the second-highest total of all time with the Patriots from 2001 to 2019. The Cowboys hold the mark, with 21 winning seasons, of 1965 to 1985.
5. Strong matches
The 2022 season which is ending will have been one of close duels. Excluding the two meetings on Saturday, before starting Week 18, no less than 69 games had been decided by three points or less. The record is 73 in 2018. Also, 19 games involved teams that came from behind by at least 14 points to win, which equals the mark set in 2013.