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Bookies wrong: 33-1 outsider is top Coach of the Year candidate

How have sportbooks all got such an important market so wrong? Dan Schofield takes advantage of the market.

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The bookies have all made the same error with the betting lines for Coach of the Year. 

They’ve listed the coaches of the top teams – Patriots, Rams, Chiefs, Saints, Colts, Eagles – as favorites for the award, but they’d be more accurate if they turned that list upside down.

The market highlights a fundamental confusion over the COTY award. It is not given to the best team. It is more often awarded for in-year impact – and there’s only so much impact to be made with a 12-4 team. 

Just look at the last two winners. Matt Nagy took the Bears from 5-11 to 12-4 and Sean McVay took the Rams from 4-12 to 11-5. Both were first-season head coaches who made a big impact. That’s what COTY is all about. Impact.

Losers to winners

The fact is, in the last 20 years 15 coaches got the award for turning losing teams into winners in a single season. Bill Belichick took three of the remaining five titles for sustained success.

The last 20 COTY winners managed to improve their teams’ win totals by an average of 6.2 in the space of a year. This improvement metric looks the best guide to success and gives a clear image of the type of coach who wins.

This is an open league and huge turnarounds are possible every year. Bettors should approach this market by looking for a losing team capable of winning six or seven games more this year – often for a new head coach.

As the market is completely oblivious to this requirement there is some serious value around. Here are the top five coaches who could oversee a revival…

5. Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland Browns +900

The Browns have already started their revival. Everyone knows how strong the team is and Kitchens has all the tools in place to create a winning team. The problems here are value and expectation.

The Browns had a 7-8-1 record last year but expectations are already much higher than that. Kitchens won’t get individual acclaim unless the team fulfils – and possibly exceeds – every expectation.

He probably needs at least 13 wins to make the shortlist for coach of the year and the +900 price is low because the hype around Kitchens and the Browns makes him an obvious pick.

4. Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona Cardinals +2200

It’s a little disjointed that Kyler Murray is +180 to be rookie of the year and Kingsbury is +2200 for coach of the year when both bets require a major Cardinals turnaround.

With just three wins Arizona were the worst-performing team in the league last year – but that was a one off. Bruce Arians coached the team the previous five seasons, during which they had just one losing season.

That fact alone suggests they should improve on their three-win tally this year. Couple that with a new offensive system, head coach and star QB and there is potential for a major turnaround.

The problem is the team will be so different to last year we can only guess how good they might be. There’s just not enough evidence to hang a bet on.

3. Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers +2000

Everyone wants to tap into the Sean McVay coaching tree and Green Bay went to the upper branches with LaFleur. He was OC for the Rams in 2017 – the year McVay won the COTY award.

The idea was supposedly to pair modern offensive play calling with the best QB in the business, Aaron Rodgers. As with Kitchens, though, there’s a slight doubt over how much credit LaFleur will get if it pays off.

The Packers won six games last year, which means LaFleur will need at least 12 wins for COTY consideration. However, in recent Packers/Rodgers history 12 wins is not out of the ordinary, so he may need 13.

2. Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars +2500

In Marrone’s first season he created the team they called ‘Sacksonville’. They had the second-ranked total defense and sacks and recorded their best regular-season win tally for a decade (10-6).

The team regressed last year (5-11), but the defense performed well and this year they added Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to lead the offense.

Running back Leonard Fournette played just eight games last season but he recorded over 1000 rushing yards in his rookie season and he can pick up some serious yardage to balance Foles’s passing game. It might just all come together for Marrone this year and 12 wins could win him the COTY award.

1. Adam Gase, New York Jets +3300

Gase is a massive price of 33-1 and he could be positioned to make some serious impact in his first year with the Jets.

He’s done it before. In his first season as OC in Denver the team went 9-1 (averaging almost 40 points per game) before making the Super Bowl. He did the same in his first season with the Dolphins, getting a 6-10 team to win ten.

The Jets were one of the worst teams in the league last year with just four regular season wins. Despite that there were signs of talent and promise all over the place and Sam Darnold looked a potential star at the end of the season.

With Gregg Williams in at DC and major signings to key positions in Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, Quinnen Williams and Ryan Kalil, the Jets could be set for a huge turnaround this year. If that happens Gase would be a worthy Coach of the Year at crazy odds of 33-1.

PICKS

Adam Gase COTY: +3300

Doug Marrone COTY: +2500

The odds shown are for guidance purposes only. They are the the general odds available from a range of sources at the time of writing. Odds will vary between sportsbooks. PFBPro offers no guarantee these odds will be available at your sportsbook.