NFL Head Coaching ATS Trends: The Good, the Average and The Too Soon to Tell

Kevin Stott

Friday, August 21, 2015 2:52 PM UTC

Friday, Aug. 21, 2015 2:52 PM UTC

Let’s look at overall ATS marks for all current NFL Head Coaches and see who has consistently made NFL bettor’s money and what newcomers we can benefit from. 

Handicappers have many ways of looking at seasons, games, teams, players, trends and statistics, but seldom do we isolate on Head Coaches in the individual sports and whether or not they can be considered good over the long term Against The (Point) Spread (ATS). And it’s not that the numbers aren’t out there, it’s just that a specific team’s ATS record or track record is much more important in terms of being a tool the sports bettor can use then looking at the ATS of a Head Coach, which is basically a byproduct of the when that HC started with his team, what kind of Roster he inherited, the expectations and past history of a team, the schedule and other intangibles like injuries and Luck and some players just getting older and seeing their skills decrease. And it’s hard to make a comparison and use the information (HC ATS records) as a tool for NFL Head Coaches as all the Head Coaches care about is winning the game (Straight Up) while the bettor is putting value on whether or not that HC’s teams can cover the point spread (ATS or not. It’s hard to make a correlation between the two and so many NFL teams shuffle new Head Coaches in every couple of years, seemingly sometimes in an appeasement to the team’ fans and to get the omnipresent mosquito-like local and national media off their backs.

Too often the billionaire owners get rid of HC’s a couple of years and too early into their new jobs with their new teams, failing to realize it’s more often the amount of money a team spends, the team, market and city’s individual culture and expectations and the actual 53-man Rosters and depth beyond that personnel-wise which separate the wheat from the chaff in the NFL. And a killer Defense doesn’t hurt either.

The bigger point? Owners of NFL certain teams that have never won, never expect to win and don’t have strong enough starting QBs or Rosters to win Super Bowls don’t win Super Bowls. You know who they are. No need to get dirty in the second paragraph, Papa. There are simply some guys who do seem to do better ATS than others, but giving these Head Coaches total credit for winning you money is a mirage of sorts as the six current Head Coaches who could be considered “good” are only so “good” percentage-wise when compared to that notorious 52.4% mark all gamblers need to hit just to stay even with the vigorish incorporated into their betting.

The only thing that matters to an NFL Head Coach is the final score and that’s something bettors need to remember when yelling at the TV set or cursing Tom Coughlin for going for it on 4th Down—after the fact—when his QB Eli Manning threw a bad ball, WR Odell Beckham ran a bad route and the Offensive Coordinator called a stupid play. Anyway, let’s look at the current NFL Head Coaches deemed “Good,” others who fall into the “Average” grouping, and the “Just getting Started” Head Coaches who either have 1 or 2 seasons under their belt with their current teams as well as the 7 guys who are in their first season including both in the Bay Area.

Note: All coaching stats listed below are current team records only.


 Head Coaches who are Good ATS Bets
Pete Carroll - Seahawks 54-32-2 ATS 62.79% (57-33 SU)
Mike McCarthy - Packers 90-63-4 ATS 58.82 % (101-55-1 SU)
Bill Belichick - Patriots 151-113-5 ATS 57.20% (196-73 SU)
John Harbaugh - Ravens 68-55-4 ATS 55.28% (82-45 SU)


Head Coaches With an Average ATS Record
Ron Rivera - Panthers 36-30-1 ATS 54.55% (33-33-1 SU)
Tom Coughlin - Giants 99-85-3 ATS 53.80% (104-83 SU)
Sean Payton - Saints 72-64-2 ATS 52.94% (86-52 SU)
Jeff Fisher - Rams 25-23 ATS 52.08% (20-27-1 SU)
Marvin Lewis - Bengals 100-96-2 ATS 51.02% (94-95-9 SU)
Mike Tomlin - Steelers 68-67-2 ATS 50.37% (87-50 SU)
Joe Philbin - Dolphins 24-24 ATS 50% (23-25 SU)
Jason Garrett - Cowboys 35-38-1 ATS 47.95% (42-32 SU)


Coaches With Less Then 3 Years Coaching Current Team
Bruce Arians - Cardinals 21-11-1 ATS  (21-12 SU)
Chuck Pagano - Colts 25-16-1 ATS  (27-15 SU)
Andy Reid - Chiefs 9-14 ATS  (20-13 SU)
Chip Kelly - Eagles 17-16 ATS  (20-13 SU)
Mike McCoy - Chargers 18-15-1 ATS  (19-15 SU)
Gus Bradley - Jaguars 11-19-2 ATS  (7-25 SU)
Mike Zimmer - Vikings 10-6 ATS  (7-9 SU)
Bill O'Brien - Texans 9-6-1 ATS  (9-7 SU)
Mike Pettine - Browns 9-6-1 ATS  (7-9 SU)
Jim Caldwell - Lions 8-9 ATS (8-9 SU)
Lovie Smith - Buccaneers 7-9 ATS  (2-14 SU)
Jay Gruden - Redskins 5-11 ATS  (4-12 SU)
Ken Whisenhunt - Titans 3-12-1 ATS  (2-14 SU)


Conclusions and a Free Taco
If forced to blindly bet against one NFL team solely on a Head Coach and his current and potential future ATS record, it would have to be Ken Whisenhunt and the Tennessee Titans who went 3-12-1 against the betting number (20%) in his first year in Nashville while if forced to back one team solely on a Head Coach and his ATS merits, it would probably be either John Harbaugh (68-55-4 ATS, 55.28%) of the Baltimore Ravens or Bill Belichick (151-113-5 ATS, 57.20%) of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. And some other thoughts. Expect the good-looking numbers of Arizona Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians to regress a little bit this 2015 NFL Regular Season season as the small sample size of just 33 games isn’t really enough to consider him the best NFL Head Coach ATS. Of course, the more games one ends up coaching through a given NFL career, the more the lifetime ATS win percentage will gravitate toward that 50% mark and sample size must be considered as well as what kind of a program an individual Head Coach inherited as well as that specific team in that specific market.

It’s hard to have a winning SU record, never mind the ATS mark, when you’re the Head Coach on a team like the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars or the Cleveland Browns who have minimal expectations each season, play in divisions where they are perceived as the doormates, and, have a combined 0 Super Bowl wins to date. The same number as you and me. 0. None. Zippo. Zilch.

So, over half of the NFL (20 teams) have Head Coaches with less than 3 years experience with their current teams. And eliminating all 20 from Super Bowl contention is not a horrible thought until you see the Indianapolis Colts (3rd-year Head Coach Chuck Pagano) grace that little list. It’s no coincidence the four NFL Head Coaches deemed “good” at this point in time ATS have QBs named Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady heading their Offenses. And the reality is as always in the NFL: Besides having a great Head Coach, being a good NFL team with a good ATS also requires a combination of a quality owner, coaching staff itself, roster (players) along with an elite or near-elite QB and a strong enough Defense. The team also must reside reside in a city—or town in Green Bay’s case—where the culture has expectations to actually win an NFL championship. And usually, only a handful of teams meet that criteria every year and the odds usually reflect it.

There are realistically about 6 teams who could make it to Super Bowl 50 on February 7 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California this season and win it. And with the exception of Peyton Manning—sort of like a Head Coach on the gridiron himself—and the Denver Broncos and first-year HC Gary Kubiak, all of them have great Head Coaches, QBs and loyal fanbases very clear about what the ultimate goal is this coming season. And that type of culture certainly doesn’t happen overnight.

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