Vegas oddsmakers have agreed that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick should easily be considered the favorite for NFL Coach of the Year in 2020.
A number of Las Vegas sportsbooks made quite the statement last month when they released their win/loss total projections for all 32 NFL teams.
Arguably the most noteworthy opening line they gave was for the New England Patriots — a team most books projected to win only eight or nine games in 2020, despite the historic levels of success the franchise has enjoyed over the past 20 years.
Of course, the reason behind this pessimistic outlook is obvious: It’s tied directly into the free agency departure of Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time.
As much as football is a team sport, there’s no position on the field more important than quarterback. You can even make a compelling argument that quarterback is the most crucial — and perhaps the most difficult — position to play in all of team sports.
So with Brady departing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Patriots’ future at quarterback uncertain (Jarrett Stidham? Brian Hoyer? Andy Dalton? Cam Newton? None of the above?), it’s fair to project a bit of a drop-off for this team in 2020 compared to 2019 — even if an 8-8 record seems a bit outlandish.
One thing that Vegas oddsmakers got right, however, was installing New England head coach Bill Belichick as the betting favorite for NFL Coach of the Year this upcoming season, per Bleacher Report’s Blake Schuster.
Caesars Sportsbook reportedly listed Belichick as having 7-1 odds to capture the award. The Dallas Cowboys’ new head coach, Mike McCarthy, is second at 9-1.
Somewhat shockingly, Belichick has only won the AP NFL Coach of the Year award three times previously — during the 2003, 2007, and 2010 seasons.
Belichick guided the Patriots to a 14-2 record and their third Super Bowl championship over four seasons in 2003; he led them to an undefeated 16-0 regular season record before falling to the Giants during Super Bowl XLII in 2007; and he piloted the Pats to a 14-2 record in 2010 before the Jets unexpectedly upset New England in the Divisional round that year.
Of course, Belichick’s standing as the best head coach in the NFL — if not the greatest head coach of all time — has long been established. The NFL’s Coach of the Year award doesn’t necessarily go to the best head coach year-in and year-out — it goes to the head coach who did the best job that particular season with what they had.
As such, Belichick’s prohibitive status as the favorite this year should come as no surprise. With Brady gone for the first time since 1999, along with Rob Gronkowski, Stephen Gostkowski, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and a slew of other talented players, this Patriots roster looks as vulnerable as it’s ever been under Belichick.
Couple that with a Bills team that many sportsbooks have finally pegged as the favorite to supplant the Patriots atop the AFC East this season, and it’s clear to see the message that Vegas is sending out to bettors this year.
If New England can somehow manage to fend off Buffalo for the division and stay relevant in their first year without Brady, it will be an incredible testament to Belichick’s abilities as the coach.