While many of the end-of-year awards in the NFL are two-horse races, the Coach of the Year odds convey a much more crowded competition. For instance, the MVP chase features a wide gap between Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the field. T.J. Watt and Aaron Donald are in a fierce battle for Defensive Player of the Year, and Justin Herbert and Justin Jefferson are way ahead of the rest of the pack for Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
According to the latest odds, five candidates could take home the Coach of the Year prize. Let’s take a look, in descending order, at who the top five favorites are in the second week of December.
Joe Judge, New York Giants (8-1)
Judge and the G-Men are coming off the biggest upset of the weekend, knocking off the Seahawks in Seattle as double-digit underdogs. In the process, they moved into first place in the NFC East, owning the tiebreaker over Washington after sweeping their division rivals.
The Giants host the Cardinals this Sunday looking for their fifth-straight win, and the first-year head coach’s club is garnering national attention, getting their Week 15 game against Cleveland flexed to the Sunday night slot. Keeping the Giants tied for first, especially without star running back Saquon Barkley, has moved Judge into the conversation.
Ron Rivera, Washington Football Team (5-1)
Another NFC East skipper in his first year with his current team with a 5-7 record through Week 13. Rivera gets the edge in the books after knocking off the Steelers on Monday night. Pittsburgh was the last remaining unbeaten team in the NFL, but the Washington defense stifled the Steelers and fought back from an early 14-0 deficit.
Interestingly, Rivera is more of a favorite than the rookie Judge, but he’ll likely have to win the division to win the award outright. Washington goes on the road to face the 49ers this week, looking for their fourth straight win.
Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns (4-1)
Stefanski is the second and final first-year coach on this list, guiding the Browns to a 9-3 record after a thorough beating of the Tennessee Titans in Nashville last Sunday. They remain two games behind the Steelers, but Stefanski is having a historic rookie campaign on the Cleveland sidelines.
Sunday’s win secured the franchise’s first winning season since 2007, and their next win would give them 10 victories for the first time since 1994. For the first time in a long time, the Browns are legit playoff contenders.
Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins (3-1)
The second-year head coach in Miami legitimately entered the conversation on November 3 after the Dolphins upended the Rams in Week 8. Since then, he has kept a firm grasp on the second spot, closing the gap over the last month.
Flores and the Dolphins are 8-4, just a game behind the Bills in the AFC East, and they’ve done so despite a mid-season QB change from Ryan Fitzpatrick to rookie Tua Tagovailoa. Keep an eye on Flores’ odds through the final quarter of the season, as they could plummet or soar with a demanding schedule that features the Chiefs, Patriots, Raiders, and Bills.
Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers (2-1)
It wasn’t until October 27 that the preseason favorite was overtaken in the odds. That’s when Tomlin surpassed Bill Belichick as the Steelers were still the only undefeated team in the league. He hasn’t relinquished the “crown” yet, but as noted, the gap shrunk after Monday’s disappointing loss to Washington.
Pittsburgh and Kansas City now share the best records in the NFL, but the Steelers currently own the top-seed tiebreaker by virtue of their record in conference games.
The battle for the No. 1 seed could very well come down to the final week of the season, as the Steelers will face the Browns in Week 17 in what could very well be a huge finale.