NFL Coach of the Year 2020: Predictions and Betting Odds
New NFL head coaches typically get a five-year contract, but most are canned before their deals expire, so it is always interesting to speculate on the fate of these underappreciated (and often overpaid) team leaders.
One way to keep your head-coaching job secure is by being named the NFL Coach of the Year (COY), an honor that goes to the head coach who sportswriters feel did the best job of working with the talent that he had at his disposal, and the odds-on favorite right now is a former 3x winner of this award.
There are several versions of this prestigious award, but here we take a look at the odds and predictions of the top-ten candidates who are most likely to be named winners of the Associated Press (AP) NFL Coach of the Year award.
AP NFL Coach of the Year Odds
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Bill Belichick (+1200)
For the first time in two decades, general manager and head coach Bill Belichick will have to lead his New England Patriots without GOAT quarterback Tom Brady under center, promising to be a true test of his ability as team manager.
Belichick’s supporters believe the Pats’ run of championships are primarily his doing, whereas his haters are convinced that every success he’s enjoyed in New England is the result of having on his roster the best quarterback to ever play the game.
Former backup QB Jarett Stidham will step up to starter for the 2020 season and if the 23-year old can lead (basically) the same roster to the playoffs and beyond, it will prove to many that Belichick was the reason all those rings came to New England.
Bruce Arians (+1200)
Nobody could deny that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a talented football team last season, but with QB Jameis Winston throwing to opponents 30 times in 16 games, head coach Bruce Arians’ chain’s weakest link became more than obvious.
Enter Tom Brady – a 41-year old multi-champion who has a habit of NOT throwing the ball to the enemy and a reputation as one of the smartest quarterbacks to have ever played the game, now playing on his first new team in twenty years and seemingly ecstatic about it.
Unlike last year in New England, Tampa Brady will have some incredibly talented veteran wide receivers as his targets (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin) plus he has his old mate and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski unretired and in the starting lineup, a reunion that could prove to deadly if Arians can game plan it all to his team’s postseason advantage.
Mike McCarthy (+1300)
Talk about an incredible comeback, Mike McCarthy’s recent journey checks all the boxes – having already won a Super Bowl with his former team, the Green Bay Packers didn’t stop them from firing him after the 2018 season (and after 13-years at the job) once it seemed like his magical source of postseason luck had run out.
Undeterred, McCarthy spent 2019 “updating his skills and staff” to the point that Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones took notice and decided McCarthy might be a better choice to turn his team’s talent into wins than the guy that he already had.
If the Cowboys do manage to make the playoffs this season (and with their talent, they better), McCarthy will be given much of the credit, but if Dallas goes even further and competes for the Conference Championship and beyond, the McCarthy should be a shoo-in for this COY award.
Kyle Shanahan (+1600)
In just three years as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan has turned them from being the 2-14 team he inherited from Chip Kelly in 2016 to an NFC Championship franchise in 2019 after posting a 13-3 record and an NFC first-place finish during the regular season.
So, to win the 2020 COY, Shanahan’s upgraded 49ers would most likely have to earn the Lombardi Trophy since “just” a Super Bowl appearance didn’t get it for him last year – and given their recent roster moves, there’s a good chance that happens.
The 49ers used their offseason to improve their front line (T Trent Williams and G Tom Compton) and the draft to upgrade their receiver corps (Arizona State star Brandon Aiyuk) and D-line (DT Javon Kinlaw) so look for them to do what it takes to earn Shanahan this COY award.
Kliff Kingsbury (+2500)
If Kliff Kingsbury can lead the Arizona Cardinals back to the postseason for the first time since 2015 using a second-year quarterback after a 5-10 season, then he could easily be hoisting the COY award, as well.
Helping matters in Arizona this season will be young QB phenom Kyler Murray, newly acquired veteran deep thread receiver DeAndre Hopkins, plus there’s also (arguably) the best linebacker in the 2020 draft class now on the roster, Isaiah Simmons, both definite improvements to the team’s overall potential.
There is a lot of youth in Arizona, including (relatively speaking) their head coach, so if the 40-year old Kingsbury can game plan enough wins to earn a spot in the playoffs, being named coach of the year would be a fitting tribute he would have deserve.
What Exactly is The NFL Coach of the Year Award?
Of all the Coach of the Year awards that are given out currently and in the past – Associated Press, Sporting News, Pro Football Weekly, UPI, etc. – the AP version is the most celebrated in the professional football world.
The first AP COY award was given out in 1957 and did not include the American Football League (AFL) and the UPI stopped giving out its awards after 1996.
How are the Coach of the Year Winners Decided?
At the end of every season, AP sportswriters vote to see which NFL head coach led their team to the best season given the quality of the roster that they had to work with.
Who Won the Coach of the Year Award in 2019?
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh won the AP COY award in 2019 after leading his team to a 14-2 record, an AFC North first-place finish and a trip to the playoffs for the second time in two seasons and the eighth in his ten years in charge of that team.
The Ravens earned a bye in the first playoff round but then ended up losing in the Divisional Playoffs to the Tennessee Titans by a score of 12-28.
12 of Harbaugh’s 2019 Ravens were selected for the Pro Bowl, and 5 for the All-Pro Team (QB Lamar Jackson, OT Ronnie Stanley, CB Marlon Humphrey, CB Marcus Peters, and K Justin Tucker were named to the first team and G Marshal Yanda was named to the second team), both the most of any teams in the NFL.
This season, Harbaugh did not even break the top-ten list of candidates, landing at 12th place with +2200 odds.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager.