Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy.
- The Green Bay Packers fired coach Mike McCarthy after a 20-17 Week 13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.
- Green Bay is a 6-point favorite against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, FOX).
- Using Bet Labs, we analyzed how NFL teams perform after firing their head coach.
The Green Bay Packers fired Mike McCarthy Sunday night following a 20-17 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. This is the first time in the 98-year history of the franchise that the Packers have fired a head coach in-season.
During the Mike McCarthy-era, the Packers had a 135-85-2 record including postseason games, reached the playoffs nine times in 13 seasons and won a Super Bowl.
Bettors will remember McCarthy fondly as Green Bay went 123-92-7 (57.5%) against the spread (ATS) with an 11-6-1 ATS record in the playoffs.
On Sunday, the Packers host the Atlanta Falcons (1 p.m. ET, FOX) in their first game without McCarthy. Green Bay opened as a 4-point favorite, but sharp action has moved the line to Packers -6.
The pros think Aaron Rodgers & Co. will play better without McCarthy, but are they right?
To answer that question, we turn to the Bet Labs database. McCarthy is the 24th coach to be fired in-season since 2003. Here are how the previous 23 teams did in the game following their coach’s dismissal:
On average, teams have been 5.5-point underdogs in their first game after a coach gets fired. These teams have gone 9-14 (39%) straight up (SU). That doesn’t sound impressive until you consider the team’s record before letting their coach go.
Combined, the 23 teams had a 60-165-1 (26.7%) record before the coach was relieved of his duties.
The improved win rate leads to a profitable ATS record. Teams that fired their coach in-season have gone 12-11 ATS in their following game. Prior to the coaching change, these teams had gone 84-139-3 (37.7%) ATS.
Teams that fire their coaches in-season maintain this level of improved play for the remainder of the season. After firing a coach, NFL teams have gone 49-85 (36.6%) SU and 67-65-2 (50.8%) ATS.
It is reasonable to theorize that a team would play better once an embattled coach is removed. With the dark cloud lifted from an organization, players are free to concentrate on football without the distractions associated with a coach in jeopardy of losing his job.
It is also possible that the betting market overreacts to coaching changes, which leads to value on teams that make in-season moves.
The Packers are currently 4-7-1 ATS this season. With four games left on the schedule, history suggests the team will finish with a .500 ATS record down the stretch.