Betting News & Analysis

Best Futures Bets NFL Week 8: Value on Minnesota Vikings' O'Connell for Coach of the Year

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell with wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) before the game against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

• Vikings HC Kevin O'Connell, at +1200, currently looks like the best value to win Coach of the Year.

• That is unless readers believe in the Jets making the playoffs with Zach Wilson quickly improving, in which case Robert Saleh (+1000) is a bet to consider.

• Nick Sirianni (+125) is the current favorite, but he also has the best overall roster and second-best quarterback, making it tougher on voters to assess his body of work.

Nearing the halfway point of the season, we now have a pretty good understanding of teams' strengths and weaknesses, and which clubs are the best in the league. In prior weeks, we’ve covered team future markets in depth, reacting to new datapoints to identify valuable bets. Now, we’ll focus our attention on the Coach of the Year market, where there are a couple names that stand out.

In particular, we will be looking at the Philadelphia Eagles' Nick Sirianni (+125), New York Giants' Brian Daboll (+250), New York Jets' Robert Saleh (+1000), and Minnesota Vikings' Kevin O’Connell (+1200).

In this table, we can see how each of the 4 coaches have improved their side of the ball from 2021 to 2022. Even though Daboll and O’Connell are rookie head coaches, both have raised their offense’s EPA/play from the year prior. In particular, Daboll has raised the average about one-fifth of a point higher from where the Giants offense was last year.

Let’s go into detail on each of these 4 coaches and the reasoning why they should and shouldn’t win Coach of the Year.

Nick Sirianni, Philadelphia Eagles (+125)

Why to bet

The Eagles are the best team in the NFL: Sirianni took a much worse Eagles team to the playoffs last year before Howie Roseman and Co. upgraded Philadelphia to the point where it was the preseason favorite. However, jumping out to a 6-0 start isn’t easy, and Sirianni has done a great job of leaning into the strengths of his team — and even opening up the offense by increasingly throwing over the middle to guys like A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert. While OC Shane Steichen is the one calling the plays, the Eagles have seen a 0.046 improvement in EPA/play since last year, which would be even higher if the Eagles didn't take their foot off the pedal in blowouts.

Why to be wary

The Eagles are loaded, and voters might attribute the hot start to roster, not Sirianni: With so many good players on both sides of the ball, it might be tough to say how much Sirianni is really elevating this roster, like other leading challengers for the award. It’s tough to divvy up credit and blame for certain things within an organization, but that is one point to keep in mind regarding an otherwise near-perfect start to the season for Sirianni and the Eagles.

Brian Daboll, New York Giants (+250)

Why to bet

• The Giants are 6-1 despite the absence of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 QB: One of the biggest boons to a coach winning this award is taking a team without an elite QB to the playoffs and overachieving based on roster talent. Daniel Jones has gone from a perennial below-average quarterback who had his 5th-year option declined in the offseason to ranking 11th in EPA/play — and top 8 since Week 3. As analyst Robert Greer also has pointed out, in most games, the standard team grade of the winner is 70.0 or above. The Giants have had 0 such games. That means the players aren’t necessarily playing great; it’s good coaching and game management, as well as putting players in the best position to succeed, that’s helped the Giants win close games.

Why to be wary

• There could be some regression at some point for the Giants. Going 6-0 in one-score games is incredibly difficult. Although this trend could continue throughout the season, there’s also a chance the Giants fall back down to Earth and the roster starts playing at a level closer to expectation. Despite being 6-1, Daboll's Giants currently are 3-point underdogs to a 4-3 Seattle club whose win total sat at 5.5 most of the offseason. And as Greer also points out, the Giants are over-performing expectations by a lot, which could spell some regression to the mean at some point.

Robert Saleh, New York Jets (+1000)

Why to bet

• Jets defense is playing well: The Jets have also been a surprise story this season, starting off 5-2. However, it’s their defense and run game catalyzing Gang Green's success, not Zach Wilson or the passing offense like we normally see from good teams. The Jets' defense ranks 10th in EPA/play (-0.033), improving markedly from last season, when they allowed 0.139 EPA/play. As he did in San Francisco, Saleh has made the D-line among the best in the NFL, ranking top 8 in pressure rate.

Why to be wary

• Jets are likely over-performing, with 4 of their wins against backup QBs: The Jets might be 5-2, but they’re still not really seeing much love from the betting markets. Their win total sits at 8.5 (juiced to the over), and they’re 1.5-point underdogs at home to the Patriots, who are on a short week after getting blown out by the Chicago Bears Monday night. For all the Jets' defensive improvements, Wilson still hasn’t shown anything to warrant long-term confidence at the position. Usually, the Coach of the Year has to make the playoffs, and the Jets are more likely to miss the playoffs (-165) than make it (+135).

Kevin O’Connell, Minnesota Vikings (+1200)

Why to bet

• The Vikings will likely win the division and finish with a 2 or 3 seed in the playoffs: In a conference where nearly every other team has regressed, the Vikings have performed admirably and are relatively healthy at 5-1 coming out of their bye week. While O’Connell has  improved his unit the least among this group from 2021 to 2022, his usage of Justin Jefferson all over the field is definitely something we should praise.

Why to be wary

• Minnesota's record not necessarily indicative of its strength: The Vikings had to battle down to the wire in wins over the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints, two teams with a combined win total of 3 entering Week 8. Minnesota also trailed the Bears in the fourth quarter of a narrow win and let the Miami Dolphins hang around despite the ‘Phins playing with Teddy Bridgewater. For O’Connell's odds to shorten for this award, the Vikings will need to start winning games more convincingly, not surviving against also-rans.

Other names to monitor

• Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks (+2000)

 Sean McDermott, Buffalo Bills (+2000)

• Mike McCarthy, Dallas Cowboys (+3500)

The Baseline

Betting on this award is tough because coaches with Tier 1 or Tier 2 quarterbacks typically don't win unless they finish something like 14-3 or 15-2. The Eagles and Bills seem like the most likely to do that, but the Bills have the Terminator in Josh Allen, and the Eagles have Jalen Hurts.

With Saleh, his team has overperformed expectations the most by far, but he won’t win this award unless the Jets make the playoffs. If you believe in the Jets (and Wilson) despite the injuries, he's probably the best value at current odds. The same goes with someone like Pete Carroll, who has done a great job with the Seahawks roster despite being sellers all offseason.

The Verdict
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