Futures bets involving the Detroit Lions have been a lost cause for decades. They have never won the NFC North. They have only made the playoffs three times since the turn of the millennium (forget about betting on them to win the NFC or Super Bowl). Will new head coach Dan Campbell change that?
It is possible but unlikely with how their roster is shaping up. However, there may be one futures bet worth taking involving the Lions in 2021—Dan Campbell for Coach of the Year (COY).
After you stop laughing at the notion, stop and think about the recent winners for a moment.
Three of the last five were first-time head coaches in their first year with a perennial loser (Kevin Stefanski, 2020; Matt Nagy, 2018; Sean McVay, 2017). All three engineered incredible turnarounds in their first season.
As for the other two, John Harbaugh turned a good Ravens team into a juggernaut in 2019. For the first time in years, the Dallas Cowboys looked like a legitimate contender in 2016 under Jason Garrett.
Dan Campbell fits the profile of a good COY candidate. He is a first-time head coach in Year One with a perennial loser. With the Lions going 5-11 last season and trading away their longtime quarterback, the stage is set for an incredible turnaround to potentially happen.
But the competition for COY is going to be stiff. According to the NFL betting odds, it does not appear as if Campbell has much of a shot—which is exactly why he does.
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Making A Case For Dan Campbell To Win COY
With +5000 odds, Dan Campbell has a 1.96 percent chance of winning COY. With guys like Sean McVay, Kyle Shanahan, Brian Flores, Frank Reich, and last year’s winner Kevin Stefanski amongst the favorites, it is not hard to find a reason to overlook Campbell.
But Campbell has two things working in his favor—history favors longshots for COY, and for that roster to win, he will have to work some magic.
Of the last six seasons, only one preseason favorite has gone on to win COY– Matt Nagy (+875). Stefanski’s odds were +2000 to start the season. Harbaugh and Garret’s odds began the season at +2800. McVay’s were a+5000 in 2017; Ron Rivera’s (2015 COY) was only slightly better at +4000.
For him to win, the team will need to win—and with a roster that is probably not as good as last year’s 5-11 team. As long as Aaron Rodgers remains with the Packers, they do not have a shot at winning the division; if Rodgers does go, their chances are still slim.
They have a better shot at earning one of the wild card spots.
Last season’s NFC wildcard teams won 11, ten, and eight games. To have a good shot, the Lions need to win at least nine. That would mean a +4 improvement from 2020. While that may seem hard for this roster to accomplish, four losses last season were by a touchdown or less.
However, with a weaker roster, it will be hard to see them turn those four losses into wins.
That is where Campbell and the coaching staff come into the picture. If the Lions can win nine games, it will not be because of the “talent” on the roster. It will be because Campbell and his staff figure out how to make the Lions better than they are.
The offensive line and run game look promising. But unless Campbell can work some magic with Goff, their unimpressive wide receivers room, and the defense, there is no way the Lions match last season’s win total, let alone take nine.
NFL Betting Recommendation
With how voters have favored first-year head coaches in recent years and with seven new head coaches in the league this season, going with one of them is a good bet. Of the seven, it is not hard to make a case for five of them.
Arthur Smith did wonders with the Titans’ offense and will have better tools at his disposal with the Falcons. Brandon Staley inherits a Chargers offense ready for a breakout year. With the talent the Jets added, it is not hard to picture Robert Saleh turning the Jets around.
If Nick Sirianni can develop Jalen Hurts and get the Eagles offense on track, his name will be in the conversation, too. Then there is Campbell. If he can get the Lions to nine wins and a wildcard berth, his case may be too good to ignore.
As for the veteran head coaches, the table is set for Bill Belichick and Mike McCarthy to make great cases for themselves this season.
So—what does this mean for Campbell?
With so many good potential candidates in better situations than him, Campbell is not a good bet to win COY honors. However, there is certainly value in betting on him at +5000—a $10 bet wins $500. Many things will need to go his way for Campbell to win, but it will be the best $10 you ever spent if they do.