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Who will be fired next? The betting market knows

By Jeff Fogle  ( 

Market followers weren’t surprised by the high number of NFL head coaches getting fired within hours of the regular season ending. As we’ve discussed often in the past, poor performances vs. market expectations often foreshadow changes in leadership.

It’s not a coach’s job to help bettors cash Regular Season Win Total bets or cover weekly point spreads. But, those indicators do a great job of outlining realistic expectations. Coaches get fired for not reaching expectations. Always have, always will. In fact, it’s hard to find a BETTER barometer for whether or not a coach should be fired than performance vs. the market. 

Here’s a quick recap . . . 

  • Todd Bowles of the New York Jets finished 4-12 straight up this season, against a regular season win expectation around six. New York finished 5-10-1 against weekly point spreads, including a woeful 2-7-1 run the last 10 games. 
  • Steve Wilks of the Arizona Cardinals finished 3-13 straight up, against a market expectation of six wins. Arizona failed to cover five of its last seven games.
  • Vance Joseph of the Denver Broncos finished 6-10 straight up, against a market projection of seven to 7.5 wins. His team also limped home with an 0-4 ATS record in the final month. This after Denver went 5-11 straight up, 4-11-1 ATS in Joseph’s first season. 
  • Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Bucs finished 5-11 straight up against a market projection of 5.5 to six wins. That was the second straight 5-11 season for Koetter, and the third straight where his team didn’t reach the postseason. 
  • Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals finished 6-10 straight up, against a market projection of seven wins. This was his third straight losing season in Cincinnati. You probably know the Bengals didn’t win a single playoff game in his 16 years at the helm. 
  • Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins did play to expectations this season. His team went 7-9 straight up against a market projection of seven wins. But, going 6-10 and 7-9 the past two seasons after a 10-6 debut wasn’t enough to save his job in the weak AFC East. 

Earlier this season, Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers and Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns were fired. We talked at the time about their poor performances vs. recent expectations. 

Of course, this phenomenon isn’t limited to football. Monday, UCLA head basketball coach Steve Alford was fired after a horrendous start. UCLA is 0-5 ATS its last five games, 3-9 ATS its last 12, and lost outright at home as favorites to Belmont and Liberty. 

It may still be years before you hear a pundit on a national TV network say something like “Of course he was fired, what did you expect? He went 4-12 against the spread.” As newcomers open their minds to the full scope of what’s being expressed in a liquid market, that should become more commonplace.

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