By Dan Rivera
If you were a follower of the Betting Predators website last year, then you will probably remember these articles. I have been putting on Twitter for quite a while that one-way markets are scams (because they are). One-way markets are high (negative) -EV, and you don’t ever get the true odds when betting them.
But one-way markets are indeed a good talking point. The way everyone covers these awards are sloppy, however, and seem to always miss key components of handicapping. The media covers these topics incessantly, well, because the media likes certain coaches etc, and 99% of people who talk or write about these awards do a terrible job of doing so, typically just picking a random name with little analysis or because with the end line “my model says so." It is sloppy and insulting to cover these awards the way nearly the entire media industry currently covers them, and because of this am going to help clean this up and give you actual stats to back up the analysis and handicapping. No "locks" here, just a deep dive.
Click here to see the data (the table doesn’t fit properly into this article because it gets too squished). The full data set goes back to 1995. Let’s start with the most obvious category in order to help pick a winner:
You Need To Win Games
No one here is surprised that your NFL Coach Of The Year winner needs to win games. The average winner is approximately 12-4 in a 16-game regular season. The lowest amount of wins has been 10 and that happened in 1995 (Ray Rhodes), 2000 (Jim Haslett), 2006 (Sean Payton), and 2009 (Marvin Lewis). The table below breaks it down further by exactly how many wins teams had when their coach won the award.
Wins / # Of Times:
10 / 5
11 / 6
12 / 5
13 / 4
14 / 4
15 / 1
16 / 1
In terms of the division, you also need to be finishing in first place there. This is the classic worse-to-first type mentality you often see when it comes to voting - 21 times a coach has won this award AND won the division. The outlier is last year is when Kevin Stefanski won while taking third place in the AFC North.
Place In Division / # Of Times:
1st / 21
2nd / 4
3rd / 1
Lastly, you need to make the playoffs. All 26 times the coach's team has made playoffs in order to win him NFL Coach Of The Year honors. Side note: these teams usually lose in the wildcard or divisional rounds.
Playoff Outcome / # Of Times:
Wildcard Round / 8
Divisional Round / 9
Conference Championship / 4
Super Bowl Appearance / 3
Super Bowl Winner / 2
This ties into the category above of needing to win AND a team 'overachieving.' The average season win total in the NFL (before this year's 17-game regular season) has been 7.38 with a range of 4.5-11.5. The 11.5 was the 2007 New England Patriots when they went 16-0. The 4.5 was 2008 with Mike Smith and the Atlanta Falcons. If you adjust and throw those teams out, the average season win total is 7.33.
When you look at actual season wins, then these COY coaches went over their season win total by 4.73 games on average with a season win total range from 7.5 down to 1.5 before the season started. The 7.5 was Marty Schottenheimer of the Chargers back in 2004. The 1.5 was Ray Rhodes of the Eagles in 1995. Throw those out and you see these coaches going over their regular season win totals by 4.75 wins.
After that, the average coach-of-the-year team went about 6-10 the previous year before with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 12. The two-win team was the 2011 Colts while the 12-win team was the 2006 Patriots. Lastly, these teams usually took third or fourth in their division the prior year.
Looking at sports odd history, we have a six-year sample size of tracking the coaches who won. This is an area you can take long shots in with Matt Nagy being the shortest at +875, but then again he was also the most likely to win that year. It is a small sample size, but once again, it ties into teams with low expectation and who largely overachieve. You see coaches at 20/1 or greater winning 5 of the 6 years.
Using lines from FanDuel Sportsbook (shop around for best price, of course) we'll see that this a market you can have some major differences in, but I wanted to keep the article simple. Therefore, we can largely cut down this list using the data I dug up. The choices for COY that caught my attention are as follows:
Kyle Shanahan 14/1
Mike Zimmer 24/1
Matt Rhule 24/1
Kyle Shanahan gets a lot of players back this year and is in a tough division. The 49ers last year were a team decimated by injuries, and the media is higher on the Rams/Seahawks thus giving them lower expectations. The media doesn’t necessarily love Kyle, but they don’t hate him either. The 49ers are a team that could win 11 or 12 games this year, make the playoffs, and/or win the division in some combo.
Mike Zimmer is another coach who lost a lot of players last year to injuries and I expect this team to largely bounce back in 2021. Zimmer has been pro-vaccination and the media loves anyone they agree with, whether you like it or not. The media often plays favorites, and this is a plus for Zimmer. The Kirk Cousins not getting vaccinated factor helps him here and if the Vikings win 11+ games, then you could hear the media members talking about how Zimmer won all those games despite Cousins not being vaccinated.
Matt Rhule is a coach heading into his second year and the Panthers have pretty low expectations from the medias’ point of view. This NFC South division's second place slot is largely up for grabs and Carolina will also get Bucs in Week 18 when the Bucs are likely to sit starters. If Rhule & Co can revive Sam Darold’s career (like I believe they can do), then the media will be all over this guy for the COY award and then some.
Now you might be wondering why those three specifically stood out. Well, these teams have low expectations this year and a lot of the possible candidates have higher expectations. For example, guys like Brandon Staley, Brian Flores, and Sean McDermott have expectations of making playoffs or making a deep run. Unless one of these coaches go 14-3, which not many believe will happen, then it will be someone who overachieves. Like this article or another coach who stands out? Tweet me anytime @DanRivera228