2023 NFL Betting: Examining Which Coach Could Get Fired First

The betting market for the first NFL head coach to get fired has not opened as of this writing. However, we can get a head start on these betting options with the NFL’s full schedule released on Thursday.

Here are 10 head coaches with some job-security concerns, with an analysis of their early schedule to see if any of their teams are positioned to start slowly (former NFL executive Jeff Diamond wrote about a number of these head coaches on the hot seat in February): 

Coaches on Hot Seat

 Josh McDaniels, Las Vegas

Raiders’ Early Schedule: at Den, at Buf, vs. Pit, at LAC

Year 1 of the Josh McDaniels Era in Las Vegas was not encouraging, as the team finished 6-11 after a 2-7 start. The Las Vegas Raiders have a below-average offensive line, a beatable pass defense and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is a lateral move from Derek Carr, at best. The addition of edge Tyree Wilson will boost the Raiders’ pass rush, but overall Vegas is a similarly talented team as they were last year in the highly competitive AFC West.

A 1-3, if not 0-4 start is on the table for the Raiders. Las Vegas may not make an in-season coaching change for financial reasons, but another slow start would undoubtedly put Raiders’ executives on edge. McDaniels is a contender to be the first coach fired.

 Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay

Buccaneers’ Early Schedule: at Min, vs. Chi, vs. Phi (MNF), at NO

The 2022 Tampa Bay Buccaneers were an ugly 8-9 that won the NFC South by default in Todd Bowles’ first year as head coach. Now, the Buccaneers go from the great Tom Brady to some combination of Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask at quarterback. Bowles could get a pass this season due to that quarterback transition — regardless of how the team performs — but that’s far from a guarantee considering how rocky 2022 was in Tampa.

The Buccaneers open up with a difficult four-game stretch to start the season. They could easily go 1-3 entering their Week 5 bye. If the Buccaneers get off to a disastrous start, their early bye week presents an opportunity for a coaching change. Bowles is a contender to be the first coach fired.

 Ron Rivera, Washington

Commanders’ Early Schedule: vs. Arz, at Den, vs. Buf, at Phi

Ron Rivera became the Washington Commanders‘ coach in 2020, and the team has floated right around .500 and won at least seven games in those three seasons. Washington hasn’t won more than eight games since it won nine back in 2015, making the Commanders fan base among the most starved for significant success. Washington has been stable under Rivera, but it hasn’t exactly been awe-inspiring.

The Commanders are staring down the barrel of a 1-3 start, where they face two of our Tier 1 teams in Weeks 3 and 4 at home against Buffalo and in Philadelphia. If Sam Howell and the Commanders start slowly while getting blown out by the Bills and Eagles, either the current or new ownership group could begin considering an in-season coaching change. Given the Commanders’ volatility at quarterback, Rivera is a candidate to be the first coach fired.

>>WATCH: What Commanders’ Imminent Sale Will Mean

 Brandon Staley, L.A. Chargers

Chargers’ Early Schedule: vs. Mia, at Ten, at Min, vs. LV

Brandon Staley has begun his coaching career in Los Angeles with nine and 10-win seasons. The issue is the Los Angeles Chargers have a title-contending roster — with an elite quarterback on his rookie deal — that has lost its biggest game of the season two years in a row behind controversial strategic decisions. 

The Chargers open the season with four manageable games. They could start anywhere between 2-2 and 4-0 heading into their Week 5 bye. After their bye, they host Dallas on Monday night before heading to Kansas City in Week 7. It would take an unexpectedly terrible start for Staley to lose his job in the first half of the NFL season. Staley is a long-shot candidate to be the first coach fired.

 Mike McCarthy, Dallas

Cowboys’ Early Schedule: at NYG (SNF), vs. NYJ, at Arz, vs. NE

The Dallas Cowboys have a strong enough roster to compete for the top seed in the NFC. The Cowboys struggled in Mike McCarthy’s first season with the team in 2020, but they have gone 12-5 in each of the past two years. Dallas has also gone 1-2 in the playoffs during that stretch. If the Cowboys struggle early, owner Jerry Jones could pivot to standout defensive coordinator and former coach Dan Quinn to try and right the ship.

This looks like a 3-1, with some potential for a 4-0, start for the Cowboys. However, if the Cowboys get through this stretch with a 2-2 record, they visit the 49ers and Chargers before their Week 7 bye. In that scenario, where the Cowboys start 2-4, Dallas could exit its bye week with Quinn as their new coach. Consider McCarthy as a long-shot candidate to be the first coach fired.

 Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland

Browns’ Early Schedule: vs. Cin, at Pit (MNF), vs. Ten, vs. Bal

Kevin Stefanski won the Coach of the Year award in his first year (2020) as the Cleveland Browns‘ coach. Cleveland then finished below .500 the next two seasons. Heading into his fourth year, the success or failure of Stefanski’s Browns largely depends on which version of Deshaun Watson leads the offense.

If the new reality for Watson is the player we saw return at the end of last season, the first four games are a stretch where Cleveland could easily enter its Week 5 bye with a 1-3 record. In that event, the Browns could host the 49ers in Week 6 with a new coach. Stefanski is a candidate to be the first coach fired.

 Arthur Smith, Atlanta

Falcons’ Early Schedule: vs. Car, vs. GB, at Det, vs. Jax

Arthur Smith inherited a Day 1 rebuild when he took over the team in 2021. The Atlanta Falcons have gone 7-10 in each of Smith’s first two seasons, which you could argue has been an overachievement based on those rosters’ talent.

Heading into this year, the Falcons added significant talent on both sides of the ball. They will be a factor in the NFC South if Desmond Ridder can be anything close to a league-average quarterback.

The early schedule looks good for the Falcons, as they could get through this four-game stretch with a 2-2 or better record. In Weeks 5 and 6, Atlanta hosts the Texans and Commanders in two winnable games. We aren’t considering Smith as a first coach to get fired candidate.

 Dennis Allen, New Orleans

Saints’ Early Schedule: vs. Ten, at Car (MNF), at GB, vs. TB

Long-time New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen stepped into Sean Payton’s massive shoes last year. The results were mixed, as New Orleans finished 7-10 while being a tough out for most of the season.

This year, the Saints added Carr at quarterback, who raises the ceiling of New Orleans’ offense. The Saints have an aging defense and a number of question marks in their skill groups, but they have a high-end offensive line and play in the most winnable division in the NFL.

The Saints have one of the easier schedules in the league, and they could realistically get through their first four games with a 2-2 or better record. We aren’t considering Allen as a first coach to get fired candidate.

 Matt Eberflus, Chicago

Bears’ Early Schedule: vs. GB, at TB, at KC, vs. Den

Matt Eberflus inherited a rebuilding Chicago Bears team last year, but he also finished his first season in Chicago with the worst record in the league. The Bears have added difference-making talent on offense to better support quarterback Justin Fields while significantly upgrading their defense this offseason. We are somewhat bullish on the Bears due to these upgrades, but if Fields doesn’t improve and Chicago has another disastrous season, it could realistically move on from Eberflus.

Chicago’s’ early schedule is a mixed bag, as it has winnable games against the Packers and Buccaneers while hosting a beatable Broncos team in Week 4. That said, Week 3’s tilt in Kansas City is as close to an expected loss as a young team like Chicago can have.

If the Bears slip up against two of their other early opponents, they could start 1-3, which will put some heat on Eberflus. Even in that scenario, the Bears have never fired a coach in-season. That’s why we’re crossing off Eberflus as a candidate to be the first head coach to get fired.

 Matt LaFleur, Green Bay

Packers’ Early Schedule: at Chi, at Atl, vs. NO, vs. Det (TNF)

If new quarterback Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers‘ talented defense underachieve again, the Packers could be in real trouble this season. In that outcome, decision-makers will openly wonder if Aaron Rodgers carried LaFleur to his 47-19 regular season record in Green Bay. If the Packers’ defense plays up to its potential, Green Bay could exceed expectations if Love plays consistent, clean football.

The Packers have an interesting early schedule, with losable games in Chicago and Atlanta to kick off the year. Then, Green Bay hosts the Saints before getting the Lions on a short week. With Love at quarterback, there is some potential for Green Bay to start with a sub-.500 record through its first four games.

In Week 5, the Packers head to Las Vegas for Monday Night Football before entering their Week 6 bye. If Green Bay is 1-4 heading into its bye, LaFleur probably gets the benefit of the doubt through the rest of the season, but his seat will start to get hot in that scenario.

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