The Best and Worst NFL Head Coaches Against the Spread

The Best and Worst NFL Head Coaches Against the Spread article feature image

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jon Gruden

  • Here are all 32 NFL head coaches' records against the spread, with a surprising name toward the bottom of the list.
  • The New England Patriots' Bill Belichick has by far been the most profitable coach in the league since 2003.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Cleveland Browns' Hue Jackson is the least profitable active coach.

In sports we’ve got G.O.A.T.s, W.O.A.T.s, and even the B.O.A.T. But I bet you’ve never heard of the B.H.C.A.T.S.O.A.T., so allow me.

His name is Bill Belichick, and he is the Best Head Coach Against the Spread of All Time.

Now our database goes back to only 2003, so I don’t know this to be true beyond that span. But the numbers should be enough to convince you.

Look at how he stacks up against other active NFL coaches:

If you’ve bet on (or against) the Patriots over the past decade-plus, that really should come as no surprise to you. They’ve won money for bettors in 12 of the past 15 seasons, with their worst ATS record in that time coming at only 7-7-2 in 2015. That gives Belichick more than double the units won than his closest competitor, Mike McCarthy.

But while most coaches aren’t on Belichick’s level, the other names toward the top of this list are fairly unsurprising … which is surprising.

When looking at performances against the spread — for either coaches, teams or players — you generally expect to find at least a couple of names at the top of each list that wouldn’t show up at the top of a regular win/loss table.

They’re the diamonds in the rough whose actual win/loss records could get them canned, but whose ATS records make them heroes in the betting community. (See: Duke’s David Cutcliffe.)

But that’s not the case here.

The top 10 NFL coaches against the spread all have winning career records, which makes the contrarian bettor in me sick to my stomach.

Further down the list, at least, there are a few names that catch the eye.

Mike Tomlin is 116-60 in his career, but only 88-85-3 ATS. His division-mate John Harbaugh has also been tamed by oddsmakers, with a 94-66 record overall but 77-75-8 ATS.

Oh and Cleveland’s Hue Jackson finds his way to the bottom of this list, because, obviously.

Right above our pal Hue, however, is a name I hadn’t expected to see. In his six seasons that the data accounts for, Jon Gruden has been a surprisingly terrible bet. Because of his popularity, Gruden is surely going to attract his share of public bettors this year, which makes his name one worth keeping an eye on for fading purposes.

And for those curious about the clump of zeros in the middle of the chart, first-year head coaches in the NFL have actually gone 460-456-25 ATS since 2005. However, that winning record has lost 16.4 units for a -1.74% ROI, meaning that there’s no money to be made either way on rookie coaches.

That’s not to say that you can’t find a profitable angle with first-year head coaches, but that you shouldn’t use their inexperience as the sole reason to make a bet.

So there you have it. Belichick is very good against the spread, and every other head coach falls into the range of pretty bad to pretty good.

I would normally advise caution with a bet that’s been so good for so long, but that would have also been my advice for the past five or six years, and it would have been very bad advice.

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