The NFL Coach of the Year race is heating up, and you may be surprised to see the shortlist of coaches in line for the award. While three coaches currently hold the best NFL betting odds to win Coach of the Year for the 2021 season, there is one coach with the fourth-best odds who deserves further exploration.
Mike Vrabel, Coach of the Year?
Entering Week 11, Mike Vrabel, coach of the Tennessee Titans, has the best odds to win at +450. Vrabel and the Titans continue to surprise the league. After starting 2-2 and coming off an embarrassing loss to the Jets, Vrabel and the Titans have won six straight games to earn a league-best record of 8-2. In addition, Vrabel and the Titans have won two straight since losing star RB Derrick Henry. The team seems like they haven’t skipped a beat, a sign of strong leadership and culture.
Next is Mike McCarthy at +500. The Cowboys are one of the hottest teams in the NFL. One of McCarthy’s most significant benefits is that the Cowboys have the largest fanbase in the NFL. Unfortunately, they’ve also been mired in mediocrity for the better part of two decades, making their resurgence this year surprising and headline-grabbing.
Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury holds the third-best NFL Coach of the Year odds at +600. In one sense, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. The Cardinals are tied for the best record in the league (8-2). One week ago, Kingsbury led a depleted Cardinals team without Kyler Murry and DeAndre Hopkins to a dominant victory over the 49ers.
NFL Coach of the Year Trends
There is a stark trend in recent NFL Coach of the Year winners that deserves exploring. Three out of the last four Coach of the Year winners were 1st-year coaches: Sean McVay in 2017, Matt Nagy in 2018, and Kevin Stefanski in 2020. On the surface, this trend would seem to point us to Los Angeles Chargers first-year coach Brandon Staley (+1100).
But it could also breathe life into Kingsbury’s odds. Kliff Kingsbury has yet to have a winning season as a head coach (in the NFL and college). But this recent trend of rookie coaches would indicate that this award has given little credence to a coach’s resume and history. The NFL Coach of the Year seems, more than any other award, to acknowledge present-day success.
The Resume That Keeps Growing
Bill Belichick has been a head coach for about three times as many years as Kingsbury, Vrabel, and Staley combined. Belichick has guided his New England Patriots to a 6-4 record, only a 1/2 game behind the first place Bills with two upcoming head-to-head matchups.
Belichick has the fourth-best odds to win NFL Coach of the Year (+1000). The team is clicking on all cylinders, and Belichick has his rookie Quarterback Mac Jones getting serious buzz for Rookie of the Year.
Belichick is still a dark-horse for this award, though it may be his to lose. With two games to play against the Bills and two challenging AFC games against the Titans and Colts, it would seem that Belichick controls a bit of his destiny. If the Patriots win the AFC East over the Super-Bowl hyped Bills, I don’t see anybody but Bill Belichick winning NFL Coach of the Year.
The NFL Coach of the Year award will be decided over the last seven weeks of the season. While first-year coach Brandon Staley aligns to the recent trend of rookie winners, look to the team success of Kliff Kingsbury, Mike Vrabel, or Bill Belichick for the best NFL betting odds.
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