Updated Coach of the Year Odds Heading into Week 16
The NFL Coach of the Year race is wide open heading into Week 16.
Week 15 saw the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons both rebound after tough Week 14 defeats, while the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks continued their winning ways.
We have seen some of the candidates before (Bill Belichick and John Fox), but it is the fresh faces who add the most intrigue to the race (Bruce Arians, Pete Carroll).
So, where do the odds stand heading into Week 16? Let's start with the master of the fake punt in Seattle...
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
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Pete Carroll is not exactly beloved by many (and that fake-punt fiasco didn't help), but the work he has done with the Seattle Seahawks this season deserves recognition.
Turning to a rookie QB in training camp when the organization had just paid good money for Matt Flynn was a risky proposition. Carroll took that risk headfirst, and it has worked out beautifully.
Russell Wilson is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate, and the Seahawks are an impressive 9-5 on the year.
Between Wilson and the rushing prowess of Marshawn Lynch, Seattle has great offensive balance, and the team ranks in the top 10 against both the rush and the pass.
There are better candidates for Coach of the Year, but Carroll is definitely in the discussion.
John Fox, Denver Broncos
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If anything is holding John Fox back from being a real contender in this race, it is the fact that Peyton Manning is getting most of the credit for Denver's success.
That credit is well deserved, but the head coach of an 11-3 football team has to at least be in the discussion.
Fox was at the helm last season as Denver made a surprise postseason appearance, and he has the team primed for a deep run this year.
There are few scenarios where Fox actually wins Coach of the Year, but the Lombardi Trophy is well within his sights.
Something tells me that he prefers the latter anyway.
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may actually be hampered by the fact that his team is so consistently good.
Seriously, New England can be counted on for double-digit wins every season, and the AFC East division has been so weak this year that the the team's success has looked like business as usual.
Tom Brady is a perennial MVP candidate, and Belichick always makes the most out of whatever talent is on the depth chart.
New England currently sits at 10-4 and is primed for a postseason run. A Week 15 loss to the San Francisco 49ers was tough to swallow, but the near-comeback win was impressive.
Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts
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Is it fair to put Bruce Arians on this list?
We are going to say yes. He has done a tremendous job on the sidelines as head coach Chuck Pagano endures his battle with leukemia.
It would have been easy for this Indianapolis Colts team to struggle without their leader on the sidelines, but Pagano has acted as the team's glue.
He has done a great job with the offense, putting rookie QB Andrew Luck in position to succeed right away. Pagano has also led the league's worst team from a season ago to a 9-5 record.
Not bad for a guy that considered retirement this offseason.
Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons
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The Atlanta Falcons quickly erased the doubts brought on from Week 14's loss to the Carolina Panthers when they embarrassed the New York Giants by a score of 34-0.
Mike Smith is a clear front-runner for Coach of the Year, and he has this Falcons team at an impressive 11-2.
Still, it will all be for naught if Atlanta again fails to do anything in the postseason. This team has too many offensive weapons to justify going home early this year.
Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
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Getting blown out by the New England Patriots seemed like a serious setback for the Houston Texans and head coach Gary Kubiak.
Luckily, the Texans showed great resolve this week in their important win over the Indianapolis Colts. Houston has shown brilliance offensively all season, and the play of J.J. Watt has been able to hide some of the defensive deficiencies brought on by injuries.
Locking down the No. 1 seed in the AFC and looking strong in the playoffs will go a long way toward helping Kubiak's candidacy.
Still, he is the leader in the clubhouse heading into Week 16.