The 2021 NFL season is rapidly approaching (less than two weeks away!), but there is still time to get in on futures bets and season-long props. Here at Pickswise we have plenty of thoughts on those markets, which you can find on the NFL news tab.
For now we are going to discuss an individual award: Coach of the Year. In truth, it has to be said that this is one of the dumbest awards in sports — regardless of sport. You might as well rename Coach of the Year as “Coach of the Team that Outperforms Expectations to the Greatest Extent” or “Coach of the Best Team” unless that team was already a massive favorite going into the season. Whatever the case, it’s certainly not a dumb futures market. After all, there is plenty of value that can be found. Let’s take a look at the odds (courtesy of DraftKings) and discuss some best bets.
Brandon Staley +1000
Bill Belichick +1200
Urban Meyer +1400
Kyle Shanahan +1400
Arthur Smith +1400
Brian Flores +1600
Matt Rhule +1600
Vic Fangio +1600
Kliff Kingsbury +1800
Sean McVay +1800
Sean Payton +1800
Matt LaFleur +1800
Sean McDermott +1800
Kevin Stefanski +2000
Robert Saleh +2000
Ron Rivera +2000
Mike McCarthy +2000
As the odds indicate, Coach of the Year is somewhat of a crapshoot. There is no clear-cut favorite, but at the same time there is no coach in the entire league who is without some kind of a realistic chance to win it. It makes sense because the playing field is more level than in just about any other individual futures market. Coaches of teams who are supposed to be good have to be really good in order to be considered. Coaches of teams who are supposed to be bad don’t have to be any better than mediocre in order to have a chance.
As you might expect, for the most it is coaches in the perceived middle ground who are among the favorites—if you can even call them favorites. Among them are Brandon Staley of the Chargers, Bill Belichick of the Patriots, Brian Flores of the Dolphins, Arthur Smith of the Falcons, Kyle Shanahan of the 49ers, and Kliff Kingsbury of the Cardinals.
With that, let’s delve into some of the best betting options.
Coach of the Year best bet: Kevin Stefanski (+2000)
Coach of the Year odds have been all over the place of late. As mentioned above, it is such a relative crapshoot that money is coming at all different directions and causing the odds to shift. We already had Stefanksi pegged as the best option a month ago, and that was when he was going off at +1500. Now you can the Browns’ boss at +2000. Stefanski already has plenty of respect from everyone in NFL circles after a successful first season in Cleveland. His team went 11-5, hammered the Pittsburgh Steelers in round one of the playoffs, and then lost to the eventual AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs in a competitive contest. To say Stefanski has this franchise going in the right direction would be a gross understatement.
Expectations are high in 2021, but…let’s be honest…they are still the Browns. If Cleveland can pick up at least 11 wins again—maybe 12 since there are now 17 games instead of 16—then Stefanski will be in the serious Coach of the Year mix.
Best longshot bet: Pete Carroll (+4000)
We had Belichick in here last month, but that was when he was +1800. Now he has jumped up to +1200–the second favorite behind Staley. The Patriots released Cam Newton in late August, officially making rookie Mac Jones QB1. If Belichick’s rolling of the dice with Jones works out and New England makes the playoffs, Belichick obviously has a good chance.
Thus we are going with Carroll here, especially since his odds have plummeted from +2500 in late July to +4000. The Seattle Seahawks were a disappointment last year and Russell Wilson is disgruntled. If Carroll can get his quarterback back on board and turn things around for the Seahawks, he will definitely get Coach of the Year consideration. And they certainly have the talent to do so. Any offense armed with Wilson and his dynamic receiving targets is extremely dangerous.
Check out our predictions for who wins Comeback Player of the Year this season