- ESPN Sports Betting Analyst
- Host of Daily Wager
- Behind The Bets podcast host
As he enters a season full of unknowns, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is still considered a constant by oddsmakers. Caesars Sportsbook has posted Belichick as a 7-1 favorite to win the Coach of the Year Award.
Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason after a 20-year run with Belichick, leaving the Pats with inexperienced options or possibly a free agent at quarterback.
“If [Belichick] takes that roster and wins that division, and no other team goes 16-0, how do you give it to somebody else?” Caesars Sportsbook director of trading Jeff Davis told ESPN. “The only way he doesn’t get it is if one of the teams that was terrible last year makes the playoffs.”
The Dallas Cowboys were not terrible last season but did underachieve, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs, which led to the firing of coach Jason Garrett. Mike McCarthy now grabs the reins for the odds-on NFC East betting favorite (-105), and he is the second-favorite to win the award at 9-1.
“I find it the most interesting betting market because it’s not remotely related to how good of a coach you are. Mike McCarthy is second on the list and he’s not in the top 20 in the NFL of pure coaching ability” Davis said. “If every guy gets the same roster, is Mike McCarthy going to be the second choice? No.”
Davis stressed the critical roles that perception and expectations play. For example, Green Bay Packers coach Matt LeFleur is tied for the longest odds at 100-1, after winning an NFC-high 13 wins in his rookie season. “He can only win if they go 16-0 or 15-1 and that roster can’t do that,” Davis said.
This is the first year Nevada Gaming approved betting on Coach of the Year, as well as for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Joe Burrow, the No. 1 overall pick who is expected to open the season as the Cincinnati Bengals’ starter, is the favorite for that award at 3-1.
“I’d rather take a bet at Burrow at 3-1 than be [liable] on one of these wide receivers or running backs at 15-1. Running backs have won it twice as much as quarterbacks and receivers combined,” Davis said, explaining why he’s offering such high odds for Burrow, whereas most other sportsbooks have him priced between 2-1 and 5-2. “Your learning curve from college to pro is the smallest at running back.”
But the rookie QB has seemingly made the transition more smoothly, once more college football programs started adopting the spread offense. In the past 17 seasons, eight quarterbacks have earned the offensive rookie honors.
However, while Burrow will likely have plenty of opportunity, the same cannot be said for the other three quarterbacks drafted in the first round. Tua Tagovailoa is 10-1, Justin Herbert is 30-1 and Jordan Love has 200-1 odds. None are projected to start their team’s season opener.
Kansas City Chiefs running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is the second-favorite at 11-2.
“He’s a first-round pick and has a lot of opportunity with a Super Bowl-winning team and the best offense in the league,” Caesars Sportsbook oddsmaker Alan Berg told ESPN.
Longshots have won recent football awards. Reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson had 50-1 odds last summer and Patrick Mahomes had 100-1 odds for his award-winning 2018 season.
The Heisman Trophy has also cashed some impressive tickets. When Jackson won with Louisville, he was once offered at 100-1 odds. Burrow just capped off a 200-1 Heisman campaign with LSU.
Oddsmakers are on alert for both of these new additions to the betting menu, especially with scoring continuing to rise. Over the past decade, three rookies drafted outside the first round still managed to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
“Usage in week one is going to blow up the market big time,” Davis said.
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