Do Teams that Fire Coaches Cover the Spread?

When the Dolphins parted ways with Joe Philbin on Monday, he became the 25th coach canned in-season by an NFL team since the start of 2000 and the 10th this decade. To the surprise of nobody, replacements have not fared tremendously well; most coaches are fired from bad teams, and new leadership does not make inferior talent suddenly improve. But more importantly than how many games interim coach Dan Campbell wins, how many will he cover? Let’s review the recent past.

Like Philbin, Raiders coach Dennis Allen was dismissed following a Week 4 loss in London last year. The Raiders were 0-4 a month into the year but 2-2 against the spread. Tony Sparano took over for Allen and guided Oakland to a 3-9 mark SU the rest of the season, going 6-6 ATS.

Two years ago, Gary Kubiak was let go in Houston after a 2-11 start. The Texans were 3-10 against the number when Kubiak was axed. Wade Phillips coached the final three games, losing them all, and covering just once

There were no in-season firings in 2012, though seven coaches were shown the door the day after the regular season wrapped up. In 2011, Todd Haley was let go in Kansas City after 13 games, Tony Sparano was dismissed in Miami at the same point, and Jack Del Rio departed Jacksonville after 11 games. Their combined records at the time of dismissal was 12-25 with a 17-18-2 mark for betting purposes. Replacement head coaches went 6-5 and 8-3 ATS.

Four coaches were dismissed during the 2010 campaign. Wade Phillips lasted only half the year with Dallas, Brad Childress got ten games in Minnesota, Josh McDaniels coached a dozen contests for Denver, and Mike Singletary made it through all but the finale in San Francisco. They combined to go 12-33 straight up and against the number. Those assigned to take over managed a 10-9 mark going 11-7-1 against the spread.

What does this all that add up to? The last nine coaches canned during the year departed with a record of 26-73 (26%) including 34-63-2 (34%) against the spread. Their replacements went 19-26 (42%) and 26-18-1 (59%) ATS.

This is not to suggest that betting on Miami is going to be an ATM machine the rest of the way; but the Fins are likely to be undervalued, so they merit extra consideration in the coming weeks.

(Photo credit: June Rivera (flickr) “MIA_vs_OAK_004” [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)

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