NFL Futures Friday: Dan Campbell for Coach of the Year?

One of the best ways to identify early value on NFL futures is to track steam movement on the odds at various sportsbooks. In other words, we’re looking for the futures that have seen the most betting interest from sharp bettors with high stakes. Lately, the futures market for the head coach of the Detroit Lions has been one of the most steamed in the NFL market.

Dan Campbell Drawing Betting Interest

Dan Campbell for Coach of the Year has been one of the hot-ticket items lately as he has drawn nearly triple the tickets and double the money as anyone else to win the award at Caesars Sportsbook. In the past week alone, Campbell’s odds have shifted from +6000 to +2500 at Caesars. Is there reason to believe Campbell can win the award this season?

How Many Wins do the Lions Need?

The Lions are currently slated to win six games at Caesars Sportsbook, with over six wins drawing the juiced line of -135. Other sportsbooks now have the Lions at around a 4-1 longshot to make the postseason. The last time a head coach has won the Coach of the Year award with fewer than ten wins over an entire season was in 1990, when Jimmy Johnson won with a 7-9 record. Johnson is also the only head coach to win the award with a losing record.

Schedule is Favorable

Based on combined opponents’ 2021 records, the Lions have the fifth-easiest schedule in the NFL this year, with their opponents having a .467 win percentage last year. The NFC appears to be the much less stacked conference as things currently stand, and with three Wild Card spots up for grabs, perhaps the Lions can parlay that more manageable schedule into their first playoff appearance since 2016.

Offseason Improvements

Driven by a draft class loaded with talent, the Lions had one of the best offseasons of any NFL team. Former Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson is a culture-setter on the defensive line who could challenge for 10+ sacks as a rookie. Former Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams is still recovering from his ACL injury. Still, once he gets on the field, he will provide an excellent complement with speed and ankle-breaking agility alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown.

You might wonder if the Lions were able to replace Jared Goff at quarterback, and the answer is no – the former Ram will still be their starter this season. However, for all of the flak that Goff takes, he still ranked 17th in passer rating last year and led the Rams to 11-4 and 13-3 records earlier in his career. Goff could have a solid season with better injury luck along the offensive line and with the team’s skill-position talent.

Worst to First?

Since the NFL realigned in 2002, a team goes from worst to first in their division almost every season. Last year, the Cincinnati Bengals went from last place in their division to a Super Bowl appearance. Could the Lions be the next team to do so in the NFC North? The Packers lost Davante Adams this offseason while the Vikings are in a make-or-break season with their new regime. The Bears have one of the worst rosters in the NFL.

If Dan Campbell can lead the Lions to a worst-to-first turnaround, he would have to be considered a leading candidate for Coach of the Year. With a rapidly improving roster featuring young talent on both sides of the ball and a much-anticipated Hard Knocks appearance coming later this year, the stars may be aligning for Campbell in his second season as head coach.