We are about a quarter of the way through the 2021 season, and the month of September proved that today’s NFL landscape is about as wild and unpredictable as ever. We have several surprising 3-1 teams, and just as many perceived “contenders” that are struggling.
BetOnline recently updated their “NFL Head Coach of the Year” odds, and the top 10 goes as follows:
- Brandon Staley (+550)
- Kliff Kingsbury (+600)
- Sean McDermott (+900)
- Sean McVay (+1100)
- Matt Rhule (+1200)
- Kevin Stefanski (+1400)
- Zac Taylor (+1400)
- Jon Gruden (+1800)
- Mike McCarthy (+1800)
- Vic Fangio (+1800)
These updated odds are certainly intriguing. It’s wonderful to see a first-time, 38-year-old head coach like Staley currently leading the pack, and there are several other surprising and noteworthy names present in the top 10. We've identified three coaches particularly worth discussing.
THE FAVORITE: BRANDON STALEY
It’s easy to understand why Staley is seen as the current favorite. His Los Angeles Chargers are off to an excellent 3-1 start. They just made light work of a previously undefeated Las Vegas Raiders team on Monday Night Football, which occurred just one week after they stormed into Kansas City and impressively beat Patrick Mahomes and his Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. Staley has this Chargers team firing on all cylinders. They look like a legitimate playoff contender in a tough AFC West.
An offensive attack spearheaded by their electric sophomore quarterback, Justin Herbert currently owns an incredible 9:0 TD-to-INT ratio while playing at an incredibly high level. Staley is a defensive-minded coach, but the Chargers will likely go as far as Herbert will take them. Luckily for them, the sky’s the limit in that regard.
MY PERSONAL PICK: KLIFF KINGSBURY
He may slightly trail Staley in the current betting odds, but we love Kingsbury’s chances to take home this award if his Cardinals squad can keep their hot streak rolling. Through four weeks of the season, Kingsbury’s Cardinals stand tall as the league’s only unbeaten team, a feat they achieved by steamrolling the previously undefeated Los Angeles Rams to the tune of 37-20 in Week 4.
The winning coach who takes home this honor typically shows drastic improvement from one year to the next. For example, Bruce Arians is extremely unlikely to win this award after winning the Super Bowl a year ago. That’s where Kingsbury’s chances get even better, seeing that Arizona failed to make the playoffs in 2020 after finishing with an 8-8 record.
Already halfway to last year’s win total with 13 games left to play, Kingsbury is a great bet here.
DARK HORSE: MATT RHULE
Don’t look now, but Rhule has his Carolina Panthers playing their best football in quite some time. Tied for first place in the NFC South alongside the fellow 3-1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sam Darnold and the Panthers have been one of the NFL’s most pleasant surprises throughout the early portion of the new campaign.
Not only does Rhule have Darnold playing the best football of his young career, but his defense has been one of the stingiest units in the league, allowing a third-best 16.5 points per game and second-best 156.5 passing yards allowed per contest. If the wins keep coming in bunches and Carolina makes the playoffs in 2021, you'd have a hard time making an argument against Rhule winning this honor.
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