NFL Coach of the Year Award Odds: Belichick Favored, LaFleur Surges

Looking at the 2021 NFL Coach of the Year candidates after Week 15 of the NFL season.
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NFL Coach of the Year Award Odds: Belichick Favored, LaFleur Surges

The AP Coach of the Year (COY) award is one of the most prestigious honors that is awarded to an NFL coach in a given season. 

Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski received the award last season after taking the Browns to the Promised Land for the first time in forever, ending a near two-decade playoff drought. John Harbaugh was the 2019 recipient following Baltimore’s standout 14-2-0 regular season, which was propelled by Lamar Jackson’s MVP-caliber performance. The 2018 Coach of the Year winner was Matt Nagy after guiding the Chicago Bears to the NFC North title, while Sean McVay won the award the year prior after turning around a Los Angeles Rams team that finished 4-12 in 2016. 

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This year’s top candidates feature one legendary coach, a couple of former winners, several well-known names and a few that have held the top NFL job for less than five years. In this column, we weigh on some of the best bets and their odds as they currently stack up in the market.

NFL Coach of the Year Odds

Bille Belichick+125
Matt LaFleur+400
Kliff Kingsbury+1200
Sean McVay+2000
Mike McCarthy+2000

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Bill Belichick

Three-time winner Belichick is up for a fourth COY this season according to the oddsmakers, recognizing his extraordinary turnaround a year after the New England Patriots finished on a subpar 6-10-0 record in their first season without Tom Brady.  

The Patriots recovered from a slow 2-4 start on the season behind rookie quarterback Mac Jones and reeled off seven straight wins to claw their way to the top of the AFC East. Although the Patriots suffered a setback in Week 15, losing to the Indianapolis Colts 27-17, they’re still in the race for the No.1 seed. That fact alone underscores Belichick’s coaching nous. It’s not every day a coach can take a greenhorn quarterback and navigate a course to the top. Put it another way, the Patriots weren’t expected to make the playoffs this year never mind challenge for division titles. 

Kliff Kingsbury

Third-year head coach Kingsbury is in the midst of a standout season with the high-flying Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals started the season with a 7-0 record before succumbing to their first defeat to the Green Bay Packers in Week 8. Kyler Murray’s injury and a dip in form have seen the Cardinals go 3-3 since then, and it all finally caught up with them in Week 15 behind a shocking defeat to the hapless Detroit Lions. On the heels of this latest setback, the Cardinals cede top spot in the NFC to the Green Bay Packers.

The 30-12 defeat to the Lions doesn’t provide good optics. It could hurt Kingsbury’s bid to win his first-ever COY award in the long run. However, it’s still salvageable. The Cardinals started the season as the longshots to win the NFC West. With a sweep of the Rams, the Cardinals still have the inside track to the title so long as they win out down the stretch. Winning the NFC West title could potentially serve up a COY award.

Matt LaFleur

Perhaps, head coach Matt LaFleur hasn’t received the credit and respect he’s due for what he’s accomplished since he stepped into the top job in Green Bay. That’s in part down to the fact that he inherited a championship-caliber team and one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. 

At some point, though, one has to consider that winning three straight NFC North titles is in some part a credit to very good coaching. Add two straight NFC Championship appearances too, there’s an even stronger case to consider here. 

Now that the Packers are back at the top of the NFC conference behind an 11-3-0 record, LaFleur looks like a solid bet to consider for this year’s COY. In some respects, it’s overdue. 

Sean McVay

Sean McVay is in the running for a second COY award according to multiple sportsbooks. McVay took a gamble on a high-profile quarterback swap, trading away Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford. McVay won his first award with Jared Goff as his quarterback, turning around the 4-12 Rams into a contender in his first year. A year later, the pair would chart a course to Super Bowl 53

His gamble has been validated since. Goff and the Lions are amongst the league’s worst teams while he and Stafford are in the hunt for the NFC West title and a spot in the playoffs. Whether that’s enough to win the COY, though, remains to be seen. A series defeat to the Cardinals, along with losses to the Packers, Niners and Titans, might detract from his merit in a competitive field this season.

Mike McCarthy

Mike McCarthy’s first year with the Dallas Cowboys was upended by Dak Prescott’s season-ending injury, which he endured against the New York Giants in Week 5 of 2020. However, the former Super Bowl-winning coach has returned with a vengeance in his second year -- largely down to Prescott’s strong start to the season. The Cowboys are amongst the top four teams in the NFC going into Week 16 and on the verge of winning the NFC East title. That said, the Cowboys have played one of the easiest NFL schedules this season according to NFL Strength of Schedule rankings. That’s likely to be considered in the voting, and it could diminish his chances. 


Nikki Adams is a freelance sports writer that’s honed in on the world of sports betting. She joined OddsChecker in 2021 after having covered a number of major American sports, including NFL and NCAAF, for several other publications in the industry. When she’s not looking for the best betting angles and writing engaging and insightful articles, she’s likely on a tennis court or binging on reality TV.

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