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Opening 2021 NFL Coach of the Year Odds – Stefanski, Staley, Shanahan Listed as Co-Favorites

Curtis Rush

by Curtis Rush in NFL Football

Updated May 14, 2021 · 4:01 PM PDT

File-This Sept. 17, 2020, file photo shows Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski before an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, in Cleveland. Stefanski's first season as an NFL coach was sublime, almost storybook. He ended Cleveland's long playoff drought, won a postseason game _ while watching from his basement as he recovered from COVID-19, and guided his team around endless obstacles in a global pandemic to almost the AFC championship. An unforgettable year, indeed. And as far as Stefanski's concerned, nothing to celebrate.(AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)
  • Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefanski won coach of the year in 2020
  • Leading Cleveland to its first playoff win in 25 years got Stefanski the award
  • Bill Belichick opened as the favorite last year after Tom Brady’s departure

In his first season as a head coach, Kevin Stefanski secured the Browns’ first winning record since 2007 and ending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought, which dated back to 2002.

Despite trailing Buffalo’s Sean McDermott and Miami’s Brian Flores in NFL Coach of the Year odds on the board last February, Stefanski climbed over the other two to win NFL Coach of the Year.

Stefanski (+1300) is the co-favorite to win again in 2021 along with Brandon Staley of the LA Chargers and Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers.

Odds to Win NFL Coach of the Year in 2021

Coach (Team) Odds at DraftKings
Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland) +1300
Brandon Staley (L.A. Chargers) +1300
Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco) +1300
Brian Flores (Miami) +1400
Sean McVay (L.A. Rams) +1400
Frank Reich (Indianapolis) +1600
Ron Rivera (Washington) +1600
Sean McDermott (Buffalo) +1700
Bill Belichick (New England) +1800
Sean Payton (New Orleans) +1800
Arthur Smith (Atlanta) +1800
Joe Judge (N.Y. Giants) +2000
Andy Reid (Kansas City) +2000
Matt Rhule (Carolina) +2000
Robert Saleh (N.Y. Jets) +2000
Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay) +2200
John Harbaugh (Baltimore) +2200
Pete Carroll (Seattle) +2500
Vic Fangio (Denver) +2500
Mike McCarthy (Dallas) +2500
Matt Lafleur (Green Bay) +2500
Urban Meyer (Jacksonville) +2800
Mike Zimmer (Minnesota) +2800
Matt Nagy (Chicago) +3000
Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh) +3000
Mike Vrabel (Tennessee) +3000
Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona) +3300
Dan Campbell (Detroit) +5000
David Culley (Houston) +5000
Jon Gruden (Las Vegas) +5000
Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia) +5000
Zac Taylor (Cincinnati) +5000

Odds as of May 14

What would it take for Stefanski to win again? The odds aren’t in his favor. The last time a coach won the award in consecutive seasons was Joe Gibbs with Washington back in 1982 and 1983.

Stefanski would likely have to put the Browns into the AFC Championship game. That would likely mean an even better record than the 11-5 mark Cleveland put up last season.

Since it’s been almost 40 years since the NFL had a repeat winner as coach of the year, betting Stefanski at +1300 doesn’t promise great value. Look more toward Staley and Shanahan.

Value plays

Staley is valued by the Chargers for having a great football mind. Many football observers think they will be the breakout team of 2021 with the offense built around reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Justin Herbert.

Shanahan is a good bet because he’s in a perfect rebound scenario. The 49ers suffered multiple injuries to key starters throughout the season and missed the playoffs with a 6-10 record. They needed a franchise QB and they think they got him at the draft in North Dakota’s Trey Lance.

Voters tend to reward new coaches who spark an organizational turnaround (think Sean McVay in 2017 or Matt Nagy in 2018) and that’s why New England’s Bill Belichick, one of the most successful coaches ever, hasn’t won the award since 2010.

In Stefanski’s case, his offensive prowess was seen in both the Browns’ No. 3-ranked rushing attack and the marked improvement that QB Baker Mayfield made in his third pro season.

It’s just as clear you don’t have to win the Super Bowl to earn coach of the year honors. The last Super Bowl champion coach who was also selected as the best coach was Bill Parcells in 1994 with the Patriots.

Check out the way the Bills have been building, and you get the sense that it’s only a matter of time until McDermott wins the award.  At +1700 odds, McDermott is a good value play. He’s been building a winning culture in Buffalo and deserves credit for overseeing Josh Allen’s development into a franchise QB.

Long Shots

A good long shot and one that comes with more risk is taking Zac Taylor with the Cincinnati Bengals. QB Joe Burrow had a great start to the season before he was injured, and the Bengals drafted LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase as a perfect passing complement. They should be dynamite together.

So, betting Taylor at +5000 would pay off big. Consider also that the Bengals have only one way to go — and that’s up.

John Harbaugh of Baltimore (+2200) , Matt Nagy (+3000) of Chicago and Sean McVay (+1400) in LA were previous winners before Stefanski. Oddsmakers still obviously like McVay’s chances.

Belichick seems like the forgotten genius in New England. It’s hard to believe that he was the betting favorite at the start of last season. But if he is able to revive the greatness in Cam Newton, he’d be a good candidate again.

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