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Opening 2019 NFL Coach of the Year Odds: Kyle Shanahan Favored, Freddie Kitchens Close Behind

Kyle Shanahan checking his play sheet.
Bovada favors Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers to be the 2019 NFL coach of the year. (Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire)
  • Bovada favors Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers to be the 2019 NFL Coach of the Year
  • Shanahan is offered at odds of +1000
  • Freddie Kitchens of the Cleveland Browns is the second betting choice at +1100

There’s an obvious trend that applies to all professional sports’ coach-of-the-year awards. A big turnaround is generally the first benchmark that voters look for when filling in their ballots.

It’s no different in the NFL. The league’s last two Coach of the Year-winners both guided teams coming off losing seasons to divisional titles: Matt Nagy with the Chicago Bears in 2018 and Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017. So it’s no surprise that the top of the current odds-list is a man coaching a team coming off a 4-12 season.

2019 NFL Coach Of The Year Odds

Coach (Team) 2018 Record *Odds at Bovada
Kyle Shanahan (49ers) 4-12 +1000
Freddie Kitchens (Browns) 5-3** +1100
Bill Belichick (Patriots) 11-5 +1200
Sean McVay (Rams) 13-3 +1200
Frank Reich (Colts) 10-6 +1400
Sean Payton (Saints) 13-3 +1400
Andy Reid (Chiefs) 12-4 +1400
Doug Pederson (Eagles) 9-7 +1600
Matt LaFleur (Packers) n/a +2000
Matt Nagy (Bears) 12-4 +2000
Vic Fangio (Broncos) n/a +2000
Bruce Arians (Buccaneers) n/a +2000
Dan Quinn (Falcons) 7-9 +2000
Anthony Lynn (Chargers) 12-4 +2000
Pete Carroll (Seahawks) 10-6 +2200
Doug Marrone (Jaguars) 5-11 +2500
Bill O’Brien (Texans) 11-5 +2800
Adam Gase (Jets) n/a +2800
Mike Zimmer (Vikings) 8-7-1 +2800
John Harbaugh (Ravens) 10-6 +2800
Mike Tomlin (Steelers) 9-6-1 +2800
Mike Vrabel (Titans) 9-7 +3300
Ron Rivera (Panthers) 7-9 +3300
Sean McDermott (Bills) 6-10 +3300
Kliff Kingsbury (Cardinals) n/a +3300
Zac Taylor (Bengals) n/a +4000
Jon Gruden (Raiders) 4-12 +4000
Pat Shurmur (Giants) 5-11 +5000
Jay Gruden (Redskins) 7-9 +5000
Matt Patricia (Lions) 6-10 +5000
Brian Flores (Dolphins) n/a +5000

*Odds taken on 08/01/19.
**Midseason replacement.

Look For Coaches Of Teams On An Upswing

It’s easy to see why San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan is getting the love from Bovada. The 49ers looked to be a decent squad last season until quarterback Jimmy Garappolo was lost for the season with a torn ACL. A healthy Garappolo could mean a significant turnaround in fortunes for San Francisco.

At the same time, it’s easy to forget two of the three teams in the NFC West last season were playoff teams. The Rams went to the Super Bowl and the Seahawks were a wildcard team.

San Fran will need to get a lot better in order to give Shanahan a shot at coach of the year.

Can Anyone Sink Kitchens?

The Cleveland Browns are the darlings of the offseason. Going 5-3 after Freddie Kitchens replaced Hue Jackson on the sideline, they made another big splash by trading with the New York Giants for All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Baltimore and Pittsburgh both appear to be in decline, and the Bengals are the Bengals. The NFC North looks to be Cleveland’s for the taking. And that outcome would certainly bode for to campaign Kitchens for coach of the year, considering the Browns were an abysmal 0-16 in 2017.

Ten Is The Luckiest Number

If you want to be NFL coach of the year, the meter starts running at 10 wins. You have to go all the way back to 1990 to find a full-season coach who won this award with less than 10 victories.

Last Five NFL Coach Of The Year Winners

Season Coach (Team) Record Record Previous Season
2018 Matt Nagy (Bears) 12-4 5-11
2017 Sean McVay (Rams) 11-5 4-12
2016 Jason Garrett (Cowboys) 13-3 4-12
2015 Ron Rivera (Panthers 15-1 7-8-1
2014 Bruce Arians (Cardinals) 11-5 10-6

Jimmy Johnson was NFL coach of the year for Dallas that season, guiding the Cowboys to a 7-9 campaign. In 1989, Dallas went 1-15.

Bruce Arians of the Indianapolis Colts did win the award in 2012 with nine wins but that was after he stepped in when head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia and went 9-3 over the last 12 games of the season.

So there’s two trends to keep in mind here – teams that make a significant turnaround, and win at least 10 games.

It also doesn’t hurt the coach’s cause if his team makes the playoffs.

Which Coach Should You Back?

Kitchens looks to be a solid bet. The Browns figure to be a playoff team this season for the first time since 2002.

Don’t rule out coaches of good teams, though. Arians won with the Cardinals in 2014 after going 10-6 the previous season. In 2014, he tied a franchise record with 11 wins. Frank Reich of the Colts might be a good candidate to consider along these lines. Ditto for Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers.

Another piece of advice to keep in mind – don’t be afraid to look for a price. Nagy opened last season at odds of 23-1 to be named coach of the year.

A guy who fits into this category is Matt LaFleur, the new coach of the Green Bay Packers. The Pack could be back in a big way this season, especially if Nagy’s Bears prove to be one-year wonders.

At +2000, LaFleur would return a healthy stipend. Oh, and by the way, the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers at QB.

Pick: Matt LaFleur, Green Bay Packers (+2000)

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