NFL Coach of the Year Odds: Bet on Mike McCarthy +2000
Words I never thought I’d write: Bet on Mike McCarthy +2000 to win Coach of the Year.
Despite an improbable Super Bowl run in 2010-11 and nearly going undefeated the next season, McCarthy faced immense criticism for his decisions on Lambeau Field in the years that followed. And rightfully so.
While McCarthy’s tenure in Green Bay included plenty of success against the team that he’s now coaching, the Packers routinely underachieved from 2013 to 2018.
Since McCarthy’s lone Super Bowl appearance as a head coach, he is 5-6 in playoff games. He went 5-12-1 when Rodgers was hurt. Compare that to Bill Belichick, who is 14-6 with Brady injured. Other coaches like Mike Tomlin and Andy Reid sit close to .500 without their starting quarterbacks, not to mention Doug Pederson’s Super Bowl win with Nick Foles.
McCarthy’s schemes grew bland and lacked innovation, at least during his final years in Green Bay.
McCarthy has been notoriously conservative, deciding against a two-point conversion to win the 2016 Packers-Cardinals playoff game.
McCarthy has been notoriously stupid, targeting 20 second-half rush attempts in the Packers’ 2014 playoff loss to Seattle in what ESPN’s Bill Barnwell called a brutal conflation of cause and effect. McCarthy’s blunders don’t stop there. He also threw the challenge flag on a fumble that would be automatically reviewed, called timeout during a two-minute warning, among a plethora of mistakes that could have been prevented with simple middle school math.
As Barnwell wrote in 2015, McCarthy is “one of the worst in-game decision-makers in the league.”
So why am I writing to tell you to bet on Mike McCarthy? Well, you don’t have to be a good coach to win NFL Coach of the Year (see: Bruce Arians).
NFL Coach of the Year Betting Trends
- The last back-to-back NFL Coach of the Year winner was Joe Gibbs for ‘82 and ‘83. (The reason for this is that the award usually goes to a coach whose team improved from the previous season. Parity and variance in the NFL makes it difficult to overachieve in consecutive seasons.)
- Since 2009, Coach of the Year awards go to teams that win on average 5.9 games more than they did a season before; the median improvement is seven games.
- Four of the last 10 Coach of the Year Awards have gone to first-year head coaches of their respective teams.
- Eight of the last 10 Coach of the Year Awards have gone to coaches who win their division; the other two have gone to coaches of wild-card teams.
2020 NFL Coach of the Year Betting Odds
Several of the trends above set up well for McCarthy, who will debut as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys this fall.
For starters, we can throw out the incumbent Coach of the Year, who is Jim Harbaugh at +2000 odds. Harbaugh won the award with the Ravens while earning the No. 1 seed in the AFC after finishing the regular season 14-2. In terms of their regular-season record, the Ravens are likely to regress rather than improve in 2020.
Additionally, favorites such as Bill Belichick (+1000) and Kyle Shanahan (+1100) have the cards stacked against them more than the public realizes. Belichick will get plenty of credit if Patriots can make it a 12th consecutive AFC East championship, but the title won’t come easy without Tom Brady.
The Patriots struggled offensively with Brady behind center last season. Jarrett Stidham, Brady’s presumed heir ( Stidham is -250 to start Week 1, according to FanDuel Sportsbook), threw merely four passes his rookie season. He completed two of those, throwing his only touchdown to the New York Jets defense. It’s no surprise the Patriots are only +120 to defend their division crown with Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills +130 lurking closely behind.
If it weren’t for Harbaugh, Kyle Shanahan would have walked away as Coach of the Year in 2019. That milestone is made more difficult in 2020 as the 49ers try to match their 13-3 record. Dating back to at least 2009, the AP has not given COY honors to a coach whose team was better than 10-6 the prior season.
Another popular pick is two-time COY Award winner Bruce Arians. I’m skeptical that he’ll win it again, as most of the credit will go toward Brady and Gronk rather than the head coach. Aside from that, I’m not convinced the Buccaneers will meet expectations. While it’s not a prerequisite to win Coach of the Year, leading a team to a division championship is a significant boost.
Why Mike McCarthy Can Win Coach of the Year
Mike McCarthy’s offense won’t be as innovative and forwarding think as that of Shanahan’s or Harbaugh’s. He won’t be as aggressive with two-point conversions and fourth-downs as Pederson in Philadelphia. Hell, he already admitted to lying about analyzing every snap of the 2019 Cowboys during his interview.
But even if McCarthy didn’t dive into analytics during his one-year sabbatical as he suggests, the Cowboys are set up to succeed in 2020.
Despite missing the playoffs, the Cowboys return five of the six players they sent to the Pro Bowl from a team that outscored their opponents by 113 points in 2019. That number is historical in that only one other team has missed the playoffs in the past 25 seasons with a point differential as high. Their lackluster record was thanks in no small part to ending 0-4 in games decided by less than four points.
The Cowboys lost Travis Frederick, an integral piece to their offensive line, but added Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb with their 2020 first round draft pick. Lamb was arguably the top pass-catcher in this year’s draft, which draft analysts said was one of the deepest wide receiver classes in history.
Lamb’s arrival will improve an offense that already ranked second to the Ravens in DVOA and fourth in Weighted Offense, per Football Outsiders. With Dak Prescott behind center, the Cowboys led the league in yards per game and yards per play.
The Cowboys are slight favorites to win the NFC East (-110 at PointsBet), and McCarthy’s +2000 odds to win Coach of the Year pay out more than the team’s odds to win the NFC Championship (+850) and even the Super Bowl (+1800) at DraftKings Sportsbook.
By sheer positive regression, the Cowboys are in line to win roughly 9.5 games in 2020, according to oddsmakers at US sportsbooks. If they improve a couple of games and win the NFC East, it’ll be McCarthy who gets the credit in his first year as Dallas Cowboys head coach.
Mike McCarthy might be a great bet to win NFL Coach of the Year this season but don’t get too excited, Cowboys fans.
McCarthy will screw things up when his decisions matter most. Luckily we don’t have to count on the Cowboys winning a playoff game to cash this bet.
Note: DraftKings Sportsbook adjusted these odds from +2000 to +1400 during the time this article was written. Sign up at BetMGM to bet on Mike McCarthy +2000 to win Coach of the Year.
Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images