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As we head towards the start of the 2022 NFL season, NFL handicapper Jason Yamaguchi offers his analysis on the coaches with the most value to win Coach of the Year.
ANALYSIS

2022 NFL Coach of the Year Odds and Picks: Which Coaches Are Most Likely to Secure This Award?

Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL season, there are many teams that are hoping to take a leap from their 2021 standing. Attempting to identify which teams will successfully accomplish that goal is vital when handicapping the COTY award. This is because, generally speaking, the award is given to the coach of a team that greatly outperforms their preseason expectations. Expectations for any given team are often based on their performance in the prior season, so the easiest way to analyze a coach's chances of winning this award is to consider how likely their team is to improve on their 2021 win total.

Additionally, a team needs to make the playoffs for their coach to receive strong consideration for this award. In each of the last 10 NFL seasons, 20 coaches finished in the top two for Coach of the Year (by definition). Would you care to guess how many of those 20 coaches' teams made the playoffs? All 20. If that doesn't prove that a playoff berth is all but a prerequisite for winning this award (or even coming in second), I don't know what would. This is why I'm passing on Brian Daboll and Dan Campbell, among others — both are coaches of teams that seem poised to improve, but neither the Giants nor the Lions has a good chance to land a playoff spot.

With that in mind, it's also worth noting that an especially strong roster can actually harm a coach's chances of winning COTY. It's counterintuitive, but it's true. The best example of this is Matt LaFleur, who hasn't received the award in any of his three seasons in Green Bay despite winning 13 games and securing a first-round bye in each of them. The fact that Aaron Rodgers is his quarterback has worked against him — voters have credited the team's success to Rodgers rather than LaFleur, even if that isn't entirely fair. This is the main reason why Sean McDermott, for instance, isn't a coach I want to take to win this award in 2022. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is the MVP favorite, and he is likely to see the majority of the credit if the Bills have an outstanding season. Again, this isn't fair. Sean McDermott is an excellent coach in his own right, but that's how the award works.

So, those are the three key factors to weigh as we decide how to approach this award from a betting standpoint. We're looking for coaches of teams that a. are likely to take a jump, b. can plausibly secure a playoff spot, and c. do not have an all-world quarterback and/or top-tier roster. Let's dive into it. Here are the candidates that I believe hold the most value to win Coach of the Year in 2022.

Brandon Staley (LAC) +1200 (Bet $100 to win $1200)

I wrote extensively about the Chargers' 2022 prospects here, for those who are interested. To save most of you the time, the bottom line is this: the Chargers have an excellent shot to contend for a championship in 2022. They have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, and they (hopefully) solved the roster problems that plagued them in 2021. If I had to select one team to outperform their 2021 record, I'd pick the Chargers without hesitation.

The one concern, naturally, is that their roster is too talented for Staley to win Coach of the Year. However, I believe that we can overlook that possibility for Staley, for two reasons. Firstly, I am higher on Justin Herbert than consensus. Most of the media believes him to be a franchise quarterback, squarely within the top-10 QBs in the NFL. I have him a bit higher; my model places him as the third-best quarterback in the world. Whether or not you agree with that ranking, the fact remains that Herbert's name does not (yet) carry the clout that Rodgers' or Brady's does, even though Herbert is effectively just as good. As such, I think that there will be room to credit both Staley and Herbert for the Chargers' 2022 breakout if such a breakout materializes.

Secondly, the unit on the Chargers' roster most likely to take a major leap in 2022 is their defense. Now, the bar is admittedly low — the Chargers allowed the third-most points per game in 2021 (27.0). For our purposes, though, that is a good thing — more room for growth means more room for additional wins. Will that growth actually occur? Well, we have reason to think so, given that Los Angeles added J.C. Jackson, Khalil Mack, and a flurry of complementary pieces to their defense. If the defense performs well as a unit, I see Staley receiving full credit — he was hired as a defensive mastermind above all else, and an improvement from the Chargers' defense would be seen as a function of Staley's skillset.

Therefore, I would argue that Brandon Staley checks all of the boxes for this award. He is the coach of a team that barely missed the playoffs in 2021, the team is set to take a massive step forward in 2022, and he is in a position to receive credit for the team's success. Staley deserves to be the betting favorite for Coach of the Year, and I love the value at 12-1.

Nick Sirianni (PHI) +2200 (Bet $100 to win $2200)

Sirianni provides an interesting proposition for this award, given that he isn't (in my opinion) a particularly good head coach. However, for the reasons outlined at the top, that is almost entirely irrelevant in terms of assessing COTY odds. I say almost because a bad coach can deflate a team and sink them lower than anyone previously thought possible (see: Joe Judge), but Sirianni doesn't profile like that. Rather, he's a middle-of-the-pack coach who can lead a successful team if the cards fall his way.

Luckily for Sirianni, that may happen this year. The 2022 Eagles are well-positioned to build on their winning 2021 season with another playoff berth. This time, though, it might come via a division win rather than a wildcard berth. I detailed their 2022 outlook here; the idea is that they upgraded their roster by having a strong draft, trading for A.J. Brown, and signing a couple of potential defensive starters in free agency. They also have perhaps the easiest schedule in football, which will ensure that their floor is relatively high.

Will the Eagles will the Super Bowl in 2022? Probably not. That being said, they match the profile of a team whose coach will receive strong consideration for Coach of the Year. First, they have a higher ceiling than most think and are a strong candidate to smash their preseason expectations. They also have multiple plausible paths to a playoff birth, either by winning the division or by securing a wildcard spot in a weak NFC. And finally — unless you think Jalen Hurts is a future MVP — the Eagles do not have a superstar quarterback to siphon credit away from the head coach. At his current odds, I believe that Sirianni is underpriced to win COTY.

Nathaniel Hackett (DEN) +2200 (Bet $100 to win $2200)

Hackett was hired to lead the Broncos following the dismissal of third-year head coach Vic Fangio. The firing was not a surprise — the Broncos haven't had a winning season since 2016, and they failed to make the postseason under Fangio. That failure came in spite of Denver's defensive prowess; the Broncos had two top-10 scoring defenses during Fangio's stint as head coach. Instead, the main factor driving their pattern of losing has been a stretch of awful quarterback play.

Barring a catastrophic injury or an unforeseen collapse in play from the new signal-caller, that stretch is over. The Broncos acquired QB Russell Wilson from the Seahawks, and Hackett and co. will look to him to solve Denver's quarterbacking woes. I'm confident that the two of them will lead an above-average offense moving forward, which would be a huge step forward from the Denver offenses of the past few seasons. As offensive coordinator of the Packers, Hackett worked in tandem with Aaron Rodgers, leading to two years of elite offensive output and a couple of MVP awards to show for them. In doing so, Hackett proved his ability to maximize the skills of his quarterback, something that he will bring to his newfound partnership with Wilson.

The Broncos also have a relatively easy schedule, despite the fact that they play in the NFL's toughest division. Denver will face every team in the AFC South once, along with the Panthers, Jets, and Seahawks. Those opponents alone give the Broncos a reasonably high floor of wins this season; however, their ceiling will be contingent on how they fare against their divisional opponents, each of whom they will play twice. It's hard to predict those outcomes ahead of the season, but I feel confident in saying that the 2022 Broncos will finish with a better record than the 2021 Broncos did and that they will push for a playoff berth. Given that Hackett is a first-year head coach, I also feel that he will receive a fair amount of credit if the Broncos succeed this season, even though Russell Wilson is his quarterback. Therefore, I'm comfortable betting Hackett to win COTY at 22-1.

Article Author

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Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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