Lofty expectations did in Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel, as their teams' seasons crumbled from high hopes to demoralizing finishes.
Little was expected of the Detroit Lions, though nor was the worst season in NFL history. That cost Rod Marinelli his job, too.
"You can't go 0-16 and expect to keep your job," Marinelli said.
Three NFL clubs fired coaches Monday, less than 24 hours after the regular season ended. Out were Marinelli, the New York Jets' Mangini and the Cleveland Browns' Crennel.
Only Mangini's firing came as a bit of a surprise. The Jets harbored Super Bowl aspirations after an 8-3 start that followed an offseason spending spree, including the trade for Brett Favre. But they didn't even make the playoffs, losing four of their last five games.
LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Las Vegas sports books favor the New York Giants over the 11 other teams in the NFL playoffs to win the Super Bowl, giving 2-to-1 odds on the NFC's No. 1 seed to repeat as champions.
The Tennessee Titans are the favorite among AFC teams to win a title at 4-1, closely followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers at 9-2.
The Giants have the easiest road to the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, while the AFC teams are more evenly matched, oddsmaker Mike Seba of Las Vegas Sports Consultants said Monday.
"You want to be in the NFC," he said. "The AFC is closer bunched _ there's not a lot of difference between your top seed and the six seed."
The Arizona Cardinals are the biggest long shots for the title at 40-1; in the AFC, the Miami Dolphins have 30-1 odds.
Before the season, the two teams that opened with the longest odds to win the Super Bowl were the Dolphins (250-1) and the Falcons (200-1). Now they're both in the playoffs.
The two preseason favorites _ the New England Patriots (2-1) and Dallas Cowboys (7-1) _ failed to reach the playoffs.
Each of the four road teams _ Indianapolis, Baltimore, Atlanta and Philadelphia _ is favored in this weekend's opening-round matchups. The top two seeds in each conference earned byes.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Alabama All-America left tackle Andre Smith has been suspended from the Sugar Bowl for violating team rules, possibly signaling an end to the Outland Trophy winner's college career.
"The University of Alabama, the team and the football program are more important than any individual player," Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said in a statement Monday. "Everyone on our team depends on each other to be responsible, to make good choices and decisions relative to their actions."
Saban did not specify Smith's violation leading up to Friday night's game against No. 7 Utah.
The junior is expected to be one of the top players selected in the NFL draft if he opts to skip his final season at Alabama. Smith has been noncommittal about his future plans, but Saban offered a hint in his statement that the player wouldn't be back.
"Andre Smith has done an outstanding job in our program as a person, student and a player and we will do all we can as an institution to support him in all future endeavors," Saban said.
"Our priority and focus as a team is to play the best football game of the season in this Sugar Bowl, and to support our players to overcome any adversity this unfortunate situation has created."
An immediate starter with the Tide, Smith has allowed only one sack this season and seven during his 38-game career.
CHICAGO (AP) _ Adam Burish was dressed in layers nearly two years ago, ready for any type of cold when he took the ice in a college hockey game at Green Bay's Lambeau Field. He learned quickly that no extra insulation was needed.
Instincts take over once you start skating, no matter the conditions.
The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings are expecting the same reaction Thursday when they play outdoors at Wrigley Field in the second Winter Classic.
"You're so excited about the atmosphere and where you're at, the cold's not going to bother you," said Burish, formerly at the University of Wisconsin and now a forward with the Blackhawks.
In that college game between the Badgers and Ohio State, the temperature was 28 degrees.
"I wore a T-shirt like I normally wore and some long pants, and that was it," Burish recalled. "They gave us a bunch of undergear like football players wear. I wore it for warmups and said the heck with it. You're so revved up, so excited, you're not going to be cold."
Chicago's winter has already been wacky, with about a half-dozen snowfalls, ice, wicked winds, wind chills way into double figures below zero and then a major melting day when temperatures climbed into the low 60s.
The forecast for Thursday is for temperatures in the low 30s and cloudy.
RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) _ North Carolina State women's basketball coach Kay Yow missed her second straight game Monday due to health issues.
Yow, 66, is battling a recurrence of the breast cancer she was diagnosed with in 1987. The Hall of Famer sat out last week's game against Columbia during a five-game road trip in New York because of cold temperatures that makes normally tolerable symptoms worse.
She said she felt better after returning to North Carolina and that she hoped to coach against Jacksonville State, but issued a statement about three hours before tipoff saying she would not be on the sideline. Yow said she made the decision after speaking with her oncologist, Dr. Mark Graham, and N.C. State athletic director Lee Fowler.
"My energy level is still not where it needs to be to complete all of what is expected as the head coach of this program," she said.
Associate head coach Stephanie Glance led the team to a 76-38 victory Monday afternoon.