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NFL betting: Why the Cowboys' Mike McCarthy is co-Coach of the Year for bettors

·4 min read
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Great coaches exploit every edge possible in order to win. Bill Belichick takes advantage of loopholes in the rules, John Harbaugh (usually) follows the analytics chart, Mike Tomlin once tried to trip a kickoff returner. Like the legendary Vince Lombardi said, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."

Great bettors exploit edges as well, whether it's arbitrage betting, acting on information that has yet to be reflected in the market, finding mispriced lines, etc. It's our chance to pull a Mike Tomlin on the sportsbook.

Few things in life excite me more than finding one of these opportunities and right now is a very exciting time. There's a game prop on BetMGM that's offered for every NFL game and it's always juiced the same -115 for both sides, regardless of the matchup. That would make sense if there was a 50/50 chance of either side hitting. Well, I've got some news for you, Huey Lewis: it's far from a coinflip.

The prop in question?

Which team will call the first timeout?

I've spent the past few weeks researching which team has called the first timeout in every game since 2019, including whether it was on offense or defense, at home or away, the result of a failed challenge or not, and whether it occurred before the two-minute warning. Much of that was to get a sense of the situations, but also the variance involved in this bet.

Before I give you the numbers and show you who you should be betting on and fading, here's a bit of housekeeping:

The prop asks which team will call the first timeout, but it's ultimately a bet on coaches, so that's what my focus is on.

The data set spans from 2019 through Week 16 of 2021. All of the numbers are from regular season competition.

Both the Raiders' and Jaguars' games are included in the data set, although their interim coaches are not.

Games played in London are included in a coach's overall total and percentage, but they do not count toward home or away numbers, as they're not true home or away games.

In the rare instance where a head coach missed a game, that data is still included in their totals, as it's assumed that their staff will act in a somewhat similar manner.

The prop is juiced at -115, which means you need to hit it at least 53.5% of the time to turn a profit.

OK, let's get to the numbers!

Head coach Mike McCarthy has called the first timeout of the game in 66.7% of his home games with the Dallas Cowboys. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
Head coach Mike McCarthy has called the first timeout of the game in 66.7% of his home games with the Dallas Cowboys. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

WEEKLY BETS AND FADES

Some coaches are only profitable to bet on or fade when they're at home or on the road. These five coaches have been profitable everywhere.

Bet on

David Culley (Texans): calls the first timeout in 80% of his games

Matt LaFleur (Packers): 68.1%

Bet against

Kevin Stefanski (Browns): calls the first timeout in 29% of his games

Mike Vrabel (Titans): 29.8%

Andy Reid (Chiefs): 31.9%

AT HOME

These are coaches who are profitable to bet on or fade only when they're playing at home.

Bet on

Sean McVay (Rams): calls the first timeout in 72.7% of his home games

Mike McCarthy (Cowboys): 66.7%

Bet against

John Harbaugh (Ravens): calls the first timeout in 30.4% of his home games

Mike Tomlin (Steelers): 33.3%

ON THE ROAD

These are coaches who are only profitable to bet on when they're playing on the road.

Bet on

Sean Payton (Saints): calls the first timeout in 75% of his games on the road

Sean McDermott (Bills): 70.8%

Bruce Arians (Buccaneers): 66.7%

Matt Nagy (Bears): 65.2%