On Dec. 12, 2010 – six days after the dismissal of head coach Josh McDaniels – the Denver Broncos failed to cover the spread (-4) in a Week 14 road loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Eric Studesville’s first game as interim head coach.
Twelve years later, against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17 this season, current Broncos’ interim coach Jerry Rosburg – elevated after Nathaniel Hackett’s dismissal on Monday, Dec. 26 – will now attempt to do what Studesville couldn’t do 12 years ago: win and/or cover in his team’s first game after a coaching change.
Nathaniel Hackett is the 35th NFL head coach since 2003 fired before the end of the season. In the previous 34 instances, the team won the first game 16 times (16-18) and covered 18 times (18-16), according to Action Network’s Bet Labs.
|2022||Colts||Frank Reich||at Raiders||+4.5||W||W|
|2022||Panthers||Matt Rhule||at Rams||+10||L||L|
|2021||Jaguars||Urban Meyer||vs. Texans||-6||L||L|
|2021||Raiders||Jon Gruden||at Broncos||+5||W||W|
|2020||Texans||Bill O'Brien||vs. Jaguars||-6.5||W||W|
|2020||Falcons||Dan Quinn||at Vikings||+3.5||W||W|
|2019||Panthers||Ron Rivera||at Falcons||+3.5||L||L|
|2019||Redskins||Jay Gruden||at Dolphins||-6||W||L|
|2018||Packers||Mike McCarthy||vs. Falcons||-4||W||W|
|2018||Browns||Hue Jackson||vs. Chiefs||+7.5||L||L|
|2017||Giants||Ben McAdoo||vs. Cowboys||+4||L||L|
|2016||Jaguars||Gus Bradley||vs. Titans||+4||W||W|
|2016||Bills||Rex Ryan||vs. Jets||+2.5||L||L|
|2016||Rams||Jeff Fisher||at Seahawks||+15||L||L|
|2015||Eagles||Chip Kelly||at Giants||+4||W||W|
|2015||Titans||Ken Whisenhunt||at Saints||+7.5||W||W|
|2015||Dolphins||Joe Philbin||at Titans||+2.5||W||W|
|2014||Raiders||Dennis Allen||vs. Chargers||+7.5||L||W|
|2011||Chiefs||Todd Haley||vs. Packers||+11||W||W|
|2011||Dolphins||Tony Sparano||at Bills||-1.5||W||W|
|2011||Jaguars||Jack Del Rio||vs. Chargers||+3||L||L|
|2010||49ers||Mike Singletary||vs. Cardinals||-6||W||W|
|2010||Broncos||Josh McDaniels||at Cardinals||-4||L||L|
|2010||Cowboys||Wade Phillips||at Giants||+11.5||W||W|
|2010||Vikings||Brad Childress||at Redskins||-1||W||W|
|2009||Bills||Dick Jauron||at Jaguars||+9||L||W|
|2008||49ers||Mike Nolan||vs. Seahawks||-5||L||L|
|2008||Raiders||Lane Kiffin||at Saints||+7||L||L|
|2008||Rams||Scott Linehan||at Redskins||+12||W||W|
|2007||Falcons||Bobby Petrino||at Bucs||+13||L||L|
|2005||Lions||Steve Mariucci||vs. Vikings||+3||L||L|
|2004||Browns||Butch Davis||vs. Patriots||+11.5||L||L|
|2004||Dolphins||Dave Wannstedt||at Seahawks||+9.5||L||W|
|2003||Falcons||Dan Reeves||at Giants||+8||L||L|
The moneyline win rate of 47% is dramatically better than the team’s season winning percentage before that game. Those teams were collectively winning approximately 27% of their games before the coaching change.
And the ATS win rate of 53% is higher than the 37% ATS win rate before the change.
Broncos vs. Chiefs Prediction
The spread for the Broncos-Chiefs game – currently 13.5 in BetMGM’s NFL odds – is the second-biggest in the last 20 years for the first game of an interim coach’s tenure. Only the Rams in 2016 – +15 at the Seattle Seahawks – under interim coach John Fassel were a bigger underdog.
Underdogs of at least 10 points are on an eight-game moneyline losing streak entering Week 17 after going 4-5 from Week 6 through Week 10. The Broncos won’t end that skid on Sunday and hand the Chiefs their first outright loss since 2020 when favored by at least 10 points.
And I don’t think they’ll become the 19th team since 2003 to cover in the first game after the dismissal of a head coach.
Chiefs 31, Broncos 13