Handicapping NFL coaches has become a popular practice for preseason bettors, picking out guys like Mike Shanahan (44-34-2 ATS in the preseason) and Andy Reid (25-28-3 ATS), who are notorious for their interest – or lack thereof – during the summer schedule.
However, Shanahan finished the preseason 2-2 against the spread last summer – improving to 7-5 ATS during the preseason in his tenure with the Redskins – and Reid led the Philadelphia Eagles to a 3-1 ATS mark and is actually 6-2 ATS the past two preseasons.
While weighing a head coach’s preseason success is fine, perhaps a more valuable way to look at NFL coaches is just how bad they need to win in 2013 – preseason or not. Putting together a winning record in the warm-ups can cool a coach’s seat and appease a nervous fanbase, easing the pressure heading into Week 1.
Here are four coaches who need to win during the preseason:
Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
Schwartz just so happens to be one of the better preseason plays, posting a 12-4 SU and 11-4 ATS mark since 2009, so turning up the intensity during the exhibition slate shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Schwartz is under the microscope in the Motor City after Detroit suffered a serious regression in 2012, going 4-12 SU and 6-10 ATS, after posting 10 wins in 2011. A poor start – preseason or regular season – could spark the fire under Schwartz’s seat.
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Jerry Jones has done just about everything but ax his head coach, taking the offensive playbook from Garrett and handing it to new coordinator Bill Callahan. Dallas hasn’t been a great preseason bet in recent years, boasting a 5-3 SU and 3-5 ATS record during Garrett’s time as head coach. Cowboys fans shouldn’t expect wins this preseason. Dallas is working in two new coordinators, switching from the 3-4 to the 4-3 Cover 2 and has even introduced a Pistol look to the offense.
Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta should be more concerned about winning games at the end of the year – after numerous postseason flops – but the Falcons’ fan base is pissed after last season and has had a bad taste in its mouth since blowing a 17-0 lead in the NFC Championship. Smith can provide a bit of mouthwash with a solid preseason. Atlanta has been horrid in tuneup tilts the past two years, with a 1-7 SU and 2-6 ATS count, while Smith is 7-13 SU and 8-10-2 ATS during his preseason career.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
Belichick is in no danger of being fired and spends about as much time worrying about the preseason scoreboard as he does picking out his sideline outfit every Sunday. However, after the summer the Patriots had – losing Welker and Woodhead, Gronkowski’s surgeries, Hernandez’s murder arrest – New England football fans need something to cheer for. Belichick was 1-3 SU and 0-4 ATS last summer and boasts an 8-12 SU and 6-13-1 ATS record over the past five preseasons.