How to Wager on NFL Teams With a First-Year Coach

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How to Wager on NFL Teams With a First-Year Coach
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Being the coach of an NFL franchise is one of the most challenging jobs in sports. Most begin with the task of cleaning up a mess left by a previous coach under the scrutiny of a fan base that demands immediate improvement. 

For the best job security, the Baltimore Ravens franchise top the list with three head coaches in the past 23 seasons. They rank first in the NFL with an average tenure of 7.7 seasons. 

The Arizona Cardinals, who have existed for nearly a century, rank last with an average coaching tenure of only 2.4 seasons. 

Since Marv Levy retired as the Buffalo Bills coach in 1997, the Bills have had 11 coaches and until last year, none had won a playoff game. Only four of the 20 coaches hired over 59 seasons have lasted more than three seasons.

When teams get a new coach, how does it change its fortunes? How quickly does a new coach turn around the culture? For NFL betting purposes, is it a good idea to wager on teams with a new coach?

How Do New Coaches Fare?

Let’s examine money-making angles for first-year coaches. There were 10 teams to change coaches, which tied the record set in 2006, 1997, and 1978. 

We don’t have the against the spread (ATS) results for the 1978 season, but in 1997, new head coaches posted an 85-90 straight-up (SU) record, an 83-84-9 ATS record, and an 85-88-3 Over-Under record. 

In 2006, first-year coaches were 70-94 SU, 80-83-1 ATS and 77-82-5 Over-Under

So, we need to do more digging into the database to uncover solid betting nuggets.


Drilling Deep for the Situational Betting Angles

Since the start of the 1989 season, new coaches priced as favorites won more than they lost with a 146-81 SU record, producing a solid 12% return on investment using the moneyline

Against the spread, they were 107-117-4. They had a 111-115-2 Over-Under record.

When to Bet on or Fade a First-Year Coach

  • Betting on underdogs of 3.5 to 7.5 points in a divisional matchup, led by a first-year coach, and coming off a win in their previous game have produced a 15-45 SU record, losing each game by an average of 8.70 points per game. The ATS record is a money-losing 23-33-4 for 41% winning bets, so fading these dogs is a preferred strategy.
  • Betting on dogs of at least nine points, who have failed to cover the spread by 27.5 or more points in total over their last three games have produced a 5-24 SU record, but a highly profitable 19-11 ATS record good for 63% winning bets over the last 10 seasons.
  • Betting against home favorites that lost the first meeting against a divisional foe and playing that foe a second time have gone a decent 14-10 SU and a profitable 15-9 ATS record, good for 63% winning bets over the past 10 seasons.
  • Betting against teams that have lost four consecutive times SU and ATS to a divisional foe and playing with same-season revenge has produced a solid 21-5 SU record and a 17-9 ATS mark, good for 65.4% winning bets over the last 10 seasons.
  • If the team lost to the spread by at least three points in each of the three previous games to a divisional foe, betting against that team has produced a 12-2 SU record and a 10-4 ATS record, good for 71.4% winning bets over the past 10 seasons.


One more Golden Betting Nugget for Week 1

Five NFL franchises have not won their first regular season game in four consecutive seasons. They are the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions, the Cleveland Browns, the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants. Two of these teams have a first-year coach: the Texans with Lovie Smith (a previous NFL coach) and the Giants with Brian Daboll.

The Betting Angle for Week 1 That You Need to Know

The following set of NFL game parameters has produced a 3-12 SU record, but a highly profitable 10-5 against the spread record for 67% winning bets over the last 30 seasons. The requirements for this rare situation are:

  • The team has not won its Week 1 opener in four consecutive seasons.
  • The team is priced as an underdog in its Week 1 matchup.
  • The team has a new coach.

Attention, Giants fans. You are on the brink of a media frenzy if your team, priced as 6.5-point road underdogs, starts the season off with a win over the Tennessee Titans. 

I am going to the window now to get the 6.5 points and sprinkle a bit more on the moneyline. 

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John Ryan

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