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NFL Betting: Who are the best and worst NFL Preseason head coaches?

NFL Preseason 2014

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Last week Mitch took a look at 5 Tips For Winning Preseason NFL Football Betting.  Here I’ll dive into one of those key factors in depth to look at the historical success of current active head coaches over the past ten seasons in the NFL Preseason.   Since some coaches have significantly more experience than others, this list is not intended to be an objective ranking based solely on preseason win percentage, but rather a subjective analysis incorporating win rate, recent success, and other variables that figure to impact this particular season.  Please note that all records quoted below are straight up – most preseason games have small spreads due to the uncertainty associated with who will play the bulk of the game.

Let’s start by looking at the worst coaches:

NFL Betting: Who are the best and worst NFL Preseason head coaches?


1)      Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons

In the past three preseasons, the Falcons are 1-11 under Mike Smith.  Since the 2008 season, Smith is just 7-17 in preseason games.  This year could certainly be the year that Smith’s Falcons turn things around after a depressing 4-12 campaign last year coupled with the public scrutiny of HBO’s Hard Knocks, but history seems to be against this Atlanta team in exhibition games.

2)      Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins

It’s a short sample size for Philbin, but in two seasons with the Dolphins he’s just 2-7.   While Philbin went 0-4 in his first year with the Dolphins, he did manage to go 2-3 in his second season, although one of the wins did come against the Jacksonville Jaguars – who have been a league doormat for years.  

3)      Dennis Allen, Oakland Raiders

Another short sample size, but Allen is just 2-6 in the preseason across two seasons with the Raiders, going 1-3 each time.  The Raiders are also a mismanaged organization, which could make things tough once again this year.


And now let’s have a look at the best coaches:

1)      Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

Carroll has swept the preseason the last two years, going 4-0 in 2012 and 2013.  While the first two years in Seattle weren’t as sharp, Carroll is 11-5 overall across four seasons.  Additionally, Carroll is the prototypical rah rah coach who is likely to keep his players engaged in these types of games, and the Seahawks have a plethora of defensive talent on their roster which should lead to an above .500 finish once again this year.  Also worth noting is that the Seahawks are 4-0 in game 1 of the preseason under Carroll, but tread carefully backing that trend this year as Seattle opens on the road at Denver in a huge revenge game.

2)      Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers went 0-4 in last year’s preseason under Tomlin, but prior to that Tomlin posted six consecutive one loss records since 2007 for an overall mark of 19-10.  The Steelers figure to be a strong bet this year to atone for last year’s rough start and are the type of organization that won’t take exhibition work too lightly with a very involved fan base.

3)      John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Harbaugh is 15-9 in the preseason since 2008 and only has one losing season which came in his first year.  The past two campaigns have been .500 for Harbaugh, but in the three years prior his teams were solid.

4)      Jim  Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers

Another Harbaugh brother at number four and it could have something to do with the rigid blood lines and ultra-competitive nature these two share.  The 49ers are 8-4 across three preseasons under Jim Harbaugh and have yet to post a losing record.


When betting NFL preseason football, information is more important and often less widely available than ever, so make sure to do your homework to have the best idea of which impact players will see action and for how long.   One of the few edges you can control is knowing the track record of the head coach, so hopefully this information can supplement your situational handicapping in order to make the best decision possible.  

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