NFL Coach of Year not so obvious

November 30, 2021 08:20 PM

The New England Patriots have won six straight games and will face the Buffalo Bills on “Monday Night Football” for a chance to take outright possession of first place in the AFC East. Mac Jones is a heavy favorite for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. Matthew Judon, third in the NFL with 10.5 sacks, trails only Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt and Trevon Diggs in the Defensive Player of the Year odds. The Patriots are -1200 to make the playoffs, 500 to be the No. 1 seed in the AFC and 450 to win the AFC, the third-lowest odds behind only Buffalo and Kansas City.

All of this is to say the Patriots are back to being contenders in the AFC, but Bill Belichick is not the Coach of the Year. That designation implies that Belichick is doing something extraordinary. Belichick is coaching at the same high level he always coaches, so to call him Coach of the Year implies he had previously been coaching at a subpar level. That is absurd. He is 252-96 as coach of the Patriots and has won six Super Bowls. I don’t really see how Belichick is suddenly Coach of the Year after 252 regular-season wins, not to mention 30 postseason wins. 

Belichick is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and the five-year waiting period should probably be waived. But I don’t think he’ll win Coach of the Year, regardless of how many more games the Patriots win. Belichick should win GM of the Year, which is an actual award for general managers, but it’s not a betting award. 

Belichick deserves GM of the Year for the $200 million in free-agent deals he made to bring in Judon, Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, Jalen Mills, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor and others. Belichick deserves GM of the Year for drafting Jones 15th after three other quarterbacks had been selected. He deserves it for drafting Christian Barmore in the second round. But Coach of the Year? Belichick is just doing what he does every year.

When Zac Taylor took over the Bengals in 2019, they had won 19 games over the previous three seasons and went 2-14 in Taylor’s first year. In 2020 they improved slightly, winning four games and showing promise until Joe Burrow suffered a season-ending leg injury. 

This season the Bengals are 7-4 and just beat division rival Pittsburgh 41-10 in a game that was over by halftime. Should Taylor get the Bengals to the playoffs, I think he has a legitimate case for Coach of the Year. This week I will add more to my Zac Taylor Coach of the Year bets. The best number I found is 10-1 at BetMGM.

The whole conversation might be moot, however, because Kliff Kingsbury has the Cardinals on track for 13 or 14 wins. The job Kingsbury has done this season with the Arizona offense warrants serious consideration for Coach of the Year, especially if the Cardinals can finish strong and clinch the top seed in the NFC. I don’t want to bet Kingsbury to win Coach of the Year at 400. Instead I am betting Arizona to be the No. 1 seed in the NFC at 400 at BetMGM.

Dolphins to Make the Playoffs?

The Dolphins beat the Patriots in Week 1 and then lost seven straight games. I wrote them off at 1-7, so naturally they have rebounded with four straight wins. They are 5-7 and scheduled to play the Giants and Jets over the next three weeks with a bye in between. Wins over the New York teams would run their winning streak to six heading into “Monday Night Football” in Week 16 at New Orleans. It’s not unrealistic to envision the Dolphins winning back-to-back home games against the Giants and Jets.

Tua Tagovailoa has played well for someone labeled a bust so early in his career. He has started 16 NFL games and has 21 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions to go with six rushing TDs. Those aren’t really bust numbers, and if Tagovailoa is going to take the next step, a good place to start and gain more confidence would be by beating the Giants and Jets.

DraftKings has the Dolphins 10-1 to make the playoffs and 12-1 to be a wild-card team, with the Patriots and Bills battling for the AFC East crown. I don’t see the Dolphins getting involved there and think the 12-1 wild-card bet is better than simply betting 10-1 to make the playoffs. 

A loss to the Giants would probably end the Dolphins’ postseason chances, but I like this matchup.

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