Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera’s seat was so hot at the beginning of this season, his job seemed to be melting away.
Rivera entered this season 13-19. Carolina was expected to compete for a playoff spot, but began with a disappointing 1-3 record. The Panthers’ front office reportedly began laying the foundation for a coaching search after this season. Rivera was seemingly a lame duck.
Then Carolina began winning.
Carolina (5-3) is currently on a four-game winning streak and are one game behind New Orleans (6-2) in the NFC South. Rivera’s team is fighting to make the playoffs, and Carolina’s third-ranked defense has led the recent surge.
Anything can happen in the next eight games, but Rivera is currently winning his fight to remain Carolina’s head coach.
THIS WEEK’S THREE HOTTEST SEATS
Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs (0-8) are in competition with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the No.1 spot in next year’s draft. Schiano has one win in Tampa Bay’s past 14 games. He will likely be back on a college campus in January.
Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Smith’s team faced a must-win game against Carolina on Sunday. Atlanta responded with a 34-10 loss. The Falcons have two wins, and it is hard to believe Smith's past victories will be significant after this season.
Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
Nice guys do finish last, which might explain why Frazier has made losing an annual occurrence. Frazier’s Vikings were 6-10 in 2010 (to be fair, he took over for Brad Childress and was 3-3); 3-13 in 2011; 10-6 last season, but his team is currently 1-7. Minnesota will likely try to acquire a franchise quarterback after this season, and the Vikings should consider an upgrade at coach, too.
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
His medical recovery is more important than discussing Houston’s disappointing season.
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Rivera and New York Jets coach Rex Ryan may have the last laugh when all is said and done. Carolina’s next three games are against San Francisco, New England and Miami, which will show every NFL observer how legitimate Rivera’s team is.
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