2023 NFL Coach of the Year Analysis, Odds, and Pick: Is Sean Payton a Lock?

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Head coach Sean Payton of the Denver Broncos speaks to the media on February 28, 2023. Stacy Revere/Getty Images/AFP.

NFL Pick: Coach of the Year 2023 – Sean Payton +900 at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Coach of the Year 2023 – Sean Payton +900
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The NFL’s Coach of the Year award is one of the most popular sports betting markets each year. Unlike the Most Valuable Player or Offensive Player of the Year awards, it does not often go to the person who simply had the best metrics that year and metrics for a coach are almost exclusively about their winning percentage.

Brian Daboll won the Coach of the Year award last season even though the Giants were 9-7-1, the 10th-best record in the NFL. But Daboll barely edged out San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan in 1st-place votes (16 to 12) thanks to his status as a rookie coach who improved a team that had not been to the playoffs since 2016.

The narrative matters for these awards and improving a team not expected to be good really matters to voters or else someone like Bill Belichick or Andy Reid would win this award every year. Instead, Belichick had the last of his three wins in 2010 and Reid only won the award once way back in 2002.

Who are the favorites for Coach of the Year in 2023, and is Sean Payton a lock in Denver? We break down the contenders that you will find at the top U.S. betting sites.

Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): The Favorite

Of all the new coaching hires, Sean Payton is by far the most accomplished in the NFL. He has 161 wins including playoffs, a Super Bowl win, 9-8 in the playoffs, and he wins 63.1% of his regular-season games. Payton was already named Coach of the Year in 2006, his debut season with New Orleans.

Since 1990, 13-of-33 Coach of the Year winners (39.4%) were in their first season with the team and 27-of-33 (81.8%) were on a team that missed the playoffs the previous season.

Voters love a comeback story, and the Broncos have a good one after finishing 5-12 with the worst-scoring offense in the league in Russell Wilson’s first season with the team. But this is a team that is ripe for regression after blowing 5 fourth-quarter leads, going 3-10 at game-winning drive opportunities, and the offense had some big injuries to Tim Patrick, Javonte Williams, and Wilson himself was not always 100%.

Payton’s Mission: Fixing Broncos’ Offense

Payton’s specialty has always been the offense, and his teams that struggled to 7-9 seasons were always poor on defense. In Denver, he should have a serviceable defense with a good core returning. The offense has been the problem in Denver for the better part of a decade now. Payton’s job is to fix this by fixing Wilson first and foremost.

The tough division with the presence of Patrick Mahomes and a Kansas City team that has beaten Denver 15 times in a row is a problem here, but as we saw with Daboll winning the award last year in a conference that the Eagles ran away with, you do not need to win the division to win Coach of the Year.

The Broncos can finish 10-7 or 9-8 and make the playoffs as a wild-card team, and as long as offensive improvement is a big story of the turnaround, Payton will get the credit for that.

Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): The Wide Open NFC North

Another betting favorite for Coach of the Year is Matt Eberflus in Chicago as the NFC North is considered up for grabs, but we already watched Eberflus take over a 6-11 team from Matt Nagy and finish 3-14 despite Justin Fields no longer being a rookie in 2022.

The Bears allowed the most points in the league last year despite Eberflus being a defensive specialist, and Fields was the least effective passer in the league. These are huge obstacles to overcome in one offseason, especially with the same coach and coordinating staff returning.

The Bears traded the No. 1 pick to Carolina to eventually end up with wide receiver D.J. Moore and rookie tackle Darnell Wright.

Moore is a better receiver than any of the Bears had last year, but he is not a game-changing No. 1 like the receivers we saw switch teams last year (Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams, and A.J. Brown). He was the top target on plenty of subpar Carolina passing offenses that finished with 5 wins.

Without a division title, there is no reason for Eberflus to get this award. He is arguably the weakest choice in the NFC North for Coach of the Year.

Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): The Jordan Love Era Begins

Right up there with Eberflus is Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur, the most accomplished coach in the division, but now he must make do without Aaron Rodgers. This presents a compelling case for LaFleur, who will rely on Jordan Love and Christian Watson to become the new dominant passing connection in Green Bay. He also may want to lean on the run and defense more to win games without Rodgers.

However, the fact is Rodgers had the worst season of his career in 2022, and LaFleur still coached the Packers to an 8-8 record and one quarter away from the postseason before losing to Detroit at home in Week 18.

If LaFleur can get adequate play out of Love, a 2020 first-round pick, then his success without Rodgers is going to give him a great argument here. If you believe in Love, then LaFleur might be the best choice in the NFC, which lacks a deep lineup of teams you can expect to be good, especially compared to the AFC.

Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): The Derek Carr Reunion

The last time Dennis Allen coached Derek Carr, he was fired after an 0-4 start with the Raiders in 2014, Carr’s rookie season. Now, the two reunite almost a decade later in New Orleans with Carr still searching for a playoff win while Allen boasts a 15-38 (.283) record as a head coach in the NFL.

The pairing does not inspire much confidence, but the roster is talented enough for Carr to pull out some games late after the Saints finished 2-7 in game-winning drive opportunities last season. The weak division and favorable-looking schedule are what make this pick intriguing because there is a real chance the Saints do not play a single team that wins 11 or more games this year.

Some teams obviously may surprise, but the NFC South, AFC South, and NFC North are the divisions the Saints have to face, and they look way easier than facing the AFC West, AFC North, and AFC East, and the Saints do not have to face the Cowboys, 49ers, or Eagles in the NFC.

If the Saints post a poor scoring differential but still manage to go 10-7 with a division title thanks to the schedule and pulling out close wins, then voters are unlikely to penalize Allen enough to deny him the award short of a flawless candidate.

Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): The Tua Tales

McDaniel may have had more value for this award last season when he was a rookie and the Dolphins had fewer expectations. But it was still a successful season that led to the playoffs even if quarterback injuries and some questionable handling of Tua Tagovailoa’s concussions led to some struggles.

Miami was hot and cold, but the team did lose Tua’s last 4 starts, so how the Dolphins handle a tougher division race in the AFC East with the arrival of Aaron Rodgers in New York is uncertain.

It is worth noting that the last 9 coaches to win Coach of the Year a season after their team was in the playoffs were all in their 4th season or longer with the team. No coach has won Coach of the Year in his first three seasons with a team coming off a playoff appearance since Chuck Knox did it with the 1984 Seahawks. That was also Knox’s 3rd win of the award, so he was a known commodity by then.

Unless you think Miami is taking the AFC East in a big way, McDaniel is likely not the pick this year.

Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): The Unusual Suspects

Seeing the Lions favored to win a division is a treat NFL fans are not used to, but this is still the case in the NFC North as we get closer to July. Dan Campbell’s team almost made the playoffs last year but lost a bad game in Carolina late in the season to finish 9-8.

Detroit improved from 3-13-1 in Campbell’s first year to 9-8, but the team still spent most of 2022 ranked last in scoring defense. The offense was prolific, though the Lions scored fewer than 25 points in all but two road games.

Trusting Jared Goff is never an easy position to be in at quarterback, and the Lions had a draft haul with questionable returns after using high picks on a running back and an off-ball linebacker.

The Lions actually coming through as favorites would be a triumph for Campbell, but would a 10-7 season put him over a more established name like Sean Payton going 10-7 in his debut with Denver in a much tougher division with the defending champs? Probably not.

Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): The System

Shanahan has never won Coach of the Year, but he did finish No. 2 last year to Brian Daboll, losing 123-100 in the new ranked voting system. Shanahan again made quarterback work on the fly after losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo and going undefeated up until the NFC Championship Game with 7th-round rookie Brock Purdy. The defense was also excellent again for the 49ers.

The case was there for Shanahan last year, but the perceived talent gap between the Giants and the 49ers likely contributed to the vote being what it was. In 2023, the case could be about the same if the 49ers are going to flirt with starting Lance, Purdy, or even Sam Darnold to start this season.

Regardless of which player gets the call, you feel pretty confident that Shanahan can make it work in an offense loaded with superstars, but that again could be his undoing if one of these other teams steps up and has a surprisingly good season while the 49ers are at the point where they are expected to be great and go on a deep playoff run.

The Longshots

To round out the top 12 in odds at BetOnline, there are four coaches tied at +2200 odds: Robert Saleh (Jets), Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Frank Reich (Panthers), and DeMeco Ryans (Texans).

Reich and Ryans certainly have their work cut out for them in Year 1, but at least their teams play in winnable divisions. Still, they will have to work in rookie quarterbacks (C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young) without a lot of talent around them in 2023.

Tomlin Is a Respected Coach Overlooked

Tomlin is always one of the most respected coaches in the league, and maybe this is the year people start to point out that he has never won Coach of the Year in his 16 seasons in Pittsburgh, none of which have had a losing record.

But Tomlin’s stubbornness with change could be his downfall after he retained offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who could be a big limiting factor once again for the progression of this offense that struggled to get explosive plays in 2022 with Kenny Pickett at quarterback.

The Steelers also play in a tough division and have not won a playoff game since the 2016 season, so Tomlin is not always at the forefront of these coaching discussions.

Saleh’s Defensive Vision

Saleh has a great opportunity to get his defense playing at a high level and hopefully get a solid return on the Aaron Rodgers trade to fix the quarterback problem that has plagued the Jets for most of history. Nevertheless, even ending a 12-year playoff drought will unlikely send the credit to the coach more than the future Hall of Fame quarterback, so Saleh may not be a good choice here.

In fact, I would fade all four of these coaches at +2200 for Coach of the Year in 2023.

Conclusion: Payton Is Not a Lock, But He Is the Right Favorite

With an eye on training camps, Sean Payton still presents the best value for 2023 NFL Coach of the Year. He has the pedigree, knowledge, and strengths to fix Russell Wilson and the offense, a defense to rely on, and the right narrative to win the award after a rebound season with the Broncos.

But Payton is hardly a lock at this point. If you want to hedge with an NFC pick in a conference that is easier to excel in, then it comes down to your trust at quarterback between Jordan Love (Matt LaFleur) and Derek Carr (Dennis Allen). Either of those teams getting to double-digit wins is going to give the coach a huge boost in this market.

NFL Pick: Coach of the Year 2023 – Sean Payton (+900) at BetOnline

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.