2023 NFL Coach of the Year Odds, Picks: 3 Bets To Make Before Week 1

2023 NFL Coach of the Year Odds, Picks: 3 Bets To Make Before Week 1 article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: DeMeco Ryans (left) and Matt LaFleur.

It's awards week here at Action Network, so let's continue to dig into season-long award bets for the 2023 NFL season.

Today, we're looking at Coach of the Year (COY). This is a unique award, one that's about much more than just winning a whole bunch of games. Brian Daboll is our reigning Coach of the Year after taking over a moribund 4-13 Giants squad and taking them to nine wins with a breakout season from Daniel Jones.

Phone With the Action App Open
The must-have app for NFL bettors
The best NFL betting scoreboard
Free picks from proven pros
Live win probabilities for your bets

Last year in this space, we zeroed in on Philadelphia's Nick Sirianni and Minnesota's Kevin O'Connell as major improvement candidates. Sirianni took the Eagles from 9-8 to 14-3 NFC champions, and the Vikings leapt from 8-9 to 13-4 with O'Connell.

So, who will win Coach of the Year in 2023?

Let's build a winning COY historical profile, then narrow the field from 32 to 10, to the three names you should bet right now.

Be sure to check out all the other awards previews and picks:

Who Wins Coach of the Year?

Let's take a look at the last 10 Coach of the Year winners and see what trends we can spot:

  • 2022, Brian Daboll (NYG): Improved from 4-13 to 9-7-1 as first-year coach
  • 2021, Mike Vrabel (TEN): Improved from 11-5 to 12-5 and 1-seed division winner
  • 2020, Kevin Stefanski (CLE): 6-10 to 11-5 as first-year coach division winner
  • 2019, John Harbaugh (BAL): 10-6 to 14-2 and 1-seed division winner
  • 2018, Matt Nagy (CHI): 5-11 to 12-4 as first-year coach division winner
  • 2017, Sean McVay (LAR): 4-12 to 11-5 as first-year coach division winner
  • 2016, Jason Garrett (DAL): 4-12 to 13-3 and 1-seed division winner
  • 2015, Ron Rivera (CAR): 7-8-1 to 15-1 and 1-seed division winner
  • 2014, Bruce Arians (ARI): 10-6 to 11-5 after losing Carson Palmer
  • 2013, Ron Rivera (CAR): 7-9 to 12-4 and 2-seed division winner

1. The Coach of the Year has to win a lot of games.


This is a team award, and teams need to win for voters to care. COY teams won an average of 12.1 games over the past decade, closer to 13 at the 17-game pace. And while Daboll won 9.5 last fall, the previous nine had each won at least 11 games.

Seven of those 10 also won a division title and the three that didn't had a strong narrative. Five of the 10 won so much that they earned a first-round bye.

Winning reigns supreme, as always.

2. It's not just about winning — Coaches of the Year must improve from last season.

Every single one of our 10 COYs improved upon their team's previous campaign — most of them by a lot.

The average COY team won 5.2 games more than the previous season, improving from 6.9 wins to 12.1 the following year. In a 17-game schedule, that's about the equivalent of jumping from 7-9 to 13-4!

Eight of our 10 COYs improved by at least four wins over last year's finish, with a median improvement of seven wins over the past 12 seasons of winners. That's a lot of improvement! And it means the teams that already won 11 or more games last year are effectively out of the running.

3. Coaches of the Year outperform expectations.

But it's not just about winning, or even improving. There's a narrative portion of this award, too. Voters want a coach from a team that surprises them.

One easy way to measure expectations is using Vegas over/under lines. All 10 of our COYs won at least two games above their posted win total, and six of them won at least 4.5 games more than expected!

The average win total coming into the season for these COY winners was 8.8 (projected to 17 games), with eight of the 10 starting the season somewhere between 7.5 and 9.5 expected wins, and none of them above that range.

Translation: These were teams no one knew what to expect from with win totals around .500 that went on to outperform expectations, often by 4.5 or more wins.

So what are we looking for in a Coach of the Year?

We need a coach who wins a bunch, way more than last year, and they need to outperform their win total expectations. We'd love a team expected to win around 7-10 games that instead leaps to 12+ wins and contends for a division title.

A few other notes we should keep in mind…

  • The last eight COYs all started the year at +1800 or longer, so this doesn't usually go to the favorite.
  • Four of the last six COYs were first-year coaches on their team, along with six of the last 12.
  • Five of the last seven COYs were offensive-minded, fitting the direction the game is headed.

We've only got 32 possible winners, so let's narrow down the field…

Expectations Already Too High

Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
Sean McDermott, Bills
Zac Taylor, Bengals
Andy Reid, Chiefs
Nick Sirianni, Eagles
John Harbaugh, Ravens
Mike McCarthy, Cowboys

We just ruled out nearly a quarter of our options — great coaches! — with a wave of the hand. Each one of them has a posted win total of 10 or higher, and none of our recent COYs started with a win total that high. Only one was even at nine.

It doesn't mean these guys can't win, but they don't fit our profile. Let's narrow the field a bit further.

No Repeat Winners Allowed

Kevin Stefanski, Browns
Mike Vrabel, Titans
Brian Daboll, Giants
Sean McVay, Rams

Other than Bill Belichick — who gets an exclusion here — Ron Rivera is the only coach this century to win Coach of the Year twice for the same franchise. We just don't pick many repeat winners.

That rules this quartet out and is another strike against Harbaugh, too. Eleven names down.

12 Wins and a Division Title Is Asking Too Much

Ron Rivera, Commanders
Josh McDaniels, Raiders
Todd Bowles, Buccaneers
Jonathan Gannon, Cardinals

You never know which teams might jump from the bottom of the league all the way to the top in the NFL, but remember, we likely need at least 12 or 13 wins and probably a division title.

Remember, our profile also expects a team with a 7.5-to-9.5 win total. This quartet all falls below that range and, for my money, these are four of the worst teams in the league, more likely to vie for the No. 1 overall draft pick than a division title.

There are unknowns up and down each roster, and other than Gannon, who is brand new, the other three are the most popular choices to be the first coach fired.

Probably Need a 1-Seed and That's Just Asking Too Much

Dan Campbell, Lions
Robert Saleh, Jets
Doug Pederson, Jaguars
Dennis Allen, Saints
Brandon Staley, Chargers
Pete Carroll, Seahawks
Kevin O'Connell, Vikings

Okay, we're finally starting to get spicy as we rule out some of the favorites with Pederson at +2000, Saleh at +1600, and Campbell the outright favorite at some books at +1000 or shorter.

This is where our three criteria are key — it's not just about winning but about beating expectations.

Campbell's Lions were already quite good last season. They won nine games and only missed the playoffs by a tiebreak, and their posted win total is already at 9.5. Our numbers tell us the Lions would likely need to jump to 13 or 14 wins to fit the usual formula, and that's asking an awful lot of this young team.

Think about it. Detroit goes 11-6 and no one even bats an eye. Same for the Jets and a 12-5 season and second place in the division after a 9.5 win total. These are perfectly believable outcomes. Voters like to give Coach of the Year to something nobody saw coming.

The Jaguars, Chargers, and Seahawks fall into that same range. The Vikings already won 13 games last year, so it's awfully tough to improve on that! The Saints were only 7-10 but have a win total at 9.5 in a soft division.

Our historical profile suggests any of these teams would need to go 13-4, maybe even 14-3, and contend for a 1-seed to really nail down Coach of the Year, since we already expect them to be in the playoff mix.

It's possible! But I'm not betting on it.

This brings us to our final 10 candidates. Here's how I rank them, counting down from No. 10 to No. 1.

Our Final 10 COY Candidates

10. Matt Eberflus

+1600 (FanDuel)

The Bears are certainly in position to improve after winning just three games last season, and the NFC North looks wide open. Chicago brought in WR D.J. Moore and a pair of expensive linebackers, but the defense is still severely lacking in talent and the supposedly improved offensive line still doesn't offer much pass protection.

In the end, any bet on the Bears is a bet on a massive improvement from Justin Fields. I'm not in on Fields, and I suspect he'd get credit, not Eberflus, even if the Bears aren't last in the division.

9. Sean Payton

+1400 (FanDuel)

The Broncos were a trainwreck last year with just five wins, and Russell Wilson has largely been left for dead. If Sean Payton comes in and takes Denver to 12 wins and a division title and magically helps Wilson look like a Hall of Fame quarterback again, it would be a pretty easy Coach of the Year narrative.

The question is whether you want to bet on that. You're sure you want to bet on Payton after a year away from football, without his longtime coordinators and Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees? You're sure you want to bet on Wilson at this faltering stage of his career, and against the Chiefs and Chargers?

I'm sure I don't, especially as one of the betting favorites. Too many things have to go right.

8. Mike Tomlin

+2000 (DraftKings)

Somehow Mike Tomlin has never won Coach of the Year despite finishing .500 or better in all 16 seasons of his career, but perhaps it's that consistency that makes it tough for him to win. Pittsburgh won nine games last fall and has a win total of 8.5. The Steelers going 11-6 would surprise no one, so Pittsburgh probably needs to go something like 13-4 or 14-3 to really get Tomlin any buzz.

The Steelers defense should be very good, but the offense still has a long way to go under OC Matt Canada and sophomore QB Kenny Pickett. Pittsburgh is the least talented team in a loaded division. Too big an ask.

7. Bill Belichick

+3000 (FanDuel)

New England is a pretty similar story to Pittsburgh, with a terrific defense but a tepid offense in an absolutely loaded division that likely leaves them last in talent and position.

Like Tomlin, Belichick has set an awfully high standard. Expectations for New England are slightly lower than they are for Pittsburgh, but Belichick's Patriots would probably still need to go at least 12-5 and win the division. I can't get there.

6. Frank Reich

+2500 (FanDuel)

The Panthers assembled an All-Star coaching staff, and Reich will get help from terrific DC Ejiro Evero and bright young OC Thomas Brown, plus a slew of assistants. Carolina left a ton of low-hanging fruit out there in recent seasons, so the Panthers have plenty of room to improve in a winnable division.

We know COY goes to first-year candidates, but Reich isn't the only rookie in Carolina. No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young will start from day one, and he'll probably take his lumps behind a young, inconsistent line without many weapons.

Carolina is really building something with Young and this coaching staff but it feels a half season too early for this group, and I like the Falcons and Saints better in the NFC South.

5. Shane Steichen

+2000 (FanDuel)

Here's another first-year coach in Steichen, and I'm expecting Steichen to bring a lot of smart, analytically-driven decisions with him from Philadelphia — things like fourth-down aggression and that Tush Push QB sneak. Steichen should be able to use rookie QB Anthony Richardson in the Jalen Hurts role as the center of a run-heavy attack that could revitalize this offensive line.

The AFC South looks very open, so the Colts could have a path to 11 wins and a division title. But is Richardson ready? He is one of the rawest first-round QBs to enter the league in a long time, and all the tools in the world won't help him be consistent or find rhythm as a passer. Indianapolis also looks to have one of the league's worst pass rushes and secondaries, which could be a death knell against good QBs and put these teams in negative game scripts all season when they can't just run the ball.

Like with Carolina, I like the formula for Steichen and Indianapolis long-term but I'm not ready to buy in right now and like others in the division better.

4. Mike McDaniel

+2000 (FanDuel)

McDaniel enters his sophomore season as a coach after a very successful debut. He might have won this award a year ago if Tua Tagoviloa had stayed healthy and led this breakout offense all year. Now McDaniel adds DC Vic Fangio to his staff, along with Jalen Ramsey, David Long and others who could make this defense just as dangerous as the attack.

Expectations are pretty high already for Miami, though. The Dolphins won nine games and have a win total at 9.5, so they'd probably need to win 13 or 14 and push for the AFC 1-seed. That's doable for this squad but asking a lot with a brutal division and schedule. I think it's in play but would rather just bet 1-seed or Dolphins team futures for that high-end outcome possibility.

Improvement is tough to predict and any number of these guys could win Coach of the Year, particularly Reich, Steichen or McDaniel. But I've got three final candidates I like best, and I'm placing a bet on each.

The 3 Coaches You Should Bet Right Now

3. Matt LaFleur

+1600 (FanDuel)

The Packers are one of the more volatile, unpredictable teams this season. The defense is super talented but has consistently underperformed, and the offense is an unknown with Jordan Love finally stepping in for Aaron Rodgers. I have Green Bay at nine relatively coin-flip games, most in the NFC.

Volatility in betting means betting on the long tail of outlier outcomes. I'm not a fan of LaFleur's assistants and not a believer in Love or this defense, so I wouldn't be shocked to see this end up a full rebuilding season in Green Bay. But the NFC North shapes up as the worst, most winnable division and there's no question the Packers' volatility could swing the other direction too.

The Packers have a terrific offensive line and run game, so that's a stable floor. If Love plays like an above-average QB this could be a top-10 or 15 offense, and the pass defense can be dominant too. Add in an obvious narrative for LaFleur post-Rodgers and he could be in the mix with a 12-5 division title.

What is QuickSlip?

QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.

2. Arthur Smith

+1400 (FanDuel)

If the NFC North isn't the most winnable division, the NFC South might be. The Panthers are young and inexperienced, the Bucs are rebuilding, and the Saints are favored but lost a lot on defense and may not run away with this thing. I love the Falcons, and I've got them as outright favorites in the South.

If Atlanta is good, Arthur Smith's offensive scheme will be a huge reason why. Smith led a top-6 DVOA offense twice in Tennessee, turning journeyman Ryan Tannehill into an elite metrics QB, and he got this Atlanta offense to No. 13 last year despite playing blindfolded at QB all year with Marcus Mariota and then a rookie Desmond Ridder.

Now Smith gets an extra offseason to get Ridder ready and adds stud rookie RB Bijan Robinson to a loaded skill room that already includes Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Throw in a great offensive line and this offense could be way better than you think. Atlanta also added a lot of veteran talent on defense, enough to improve the unit from terrible to at least passable.

Smith isn't a first-year candidate, but he otherwise checks every box as an offensive-minded coach of a team that could make a leap. In the wide-open NFC, the Falcons could even contend for a top-2 seed.

1. DeMeco Ryans

+2500 (FanDuel)

Ryans is the first-year candidate I love for Coach of the Year, and these top two picks shouldn't surprise you if you read my column predicting this year's worst-to-first NFL division winner where I recommended bets on both the Falcons (+210) and Texans (+1000).

The AFC South is by far the softest division in the conference. We discussed the Colts' shortcomings. The Titans have the worst offensive line in the league and lack upside. The Jaguars have a franchise QB but a bad defense and a pretty lackluster roster overall outside of Trevor Lawrence.

The Texans might actually have the best, most balanced roster in the division. Houston could make a leap defensively under Ryans with rookie Will Anderson and sophomore Derek Stingley Jr. leading the way. The offense should see a huge step forward in the run game with new OC Bobby Slowik coming over from the Kyle Shanahan tree, unleashing Dameon Pierce and a young, improving offensive line.

Houston is set to have the best offensive line, defense, and special teams in the division. That sort of strength on the spine of a team should make life much easier on C.J. Stroud, who looks the most pro-ready among the new rookies.

Expectations could not be lower for the Texans — the franchise has barely even been relevant the last few years. If DeMeco Ryans comes in and takes Houston to a division title, he'll be a great COY pick.

Pick: DeMeco Ryans +2500

Three coaches fit the profile best for 2023 Coach of the Year, so let's get three bites at the apple. Bet Ryans, Smith and LaFleur together at a combined implied +510.

How would you rate this article?

This site contains commercial content. We may be compensated for the links provided on this page. The content on this page is for informational purposes only. Action Network makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information given or the outcome of any game or event.