Q: I would really like to see ATS records in NFL preseason on teams with new head coaches. Do you have this information?
—Simon, from somewhere.
BTB: There is a belief by some that first-year head coaches have a desire to make a good first impression with their new teams, and as such, they enter the preseason with an urgency to win.
Though preseason games are meaningless, fan bases still like to win them, and looking good (and playing hard) has the potential to relieve some of the inevitable pressure that first-year coaches face. That’s the theory, anyway.
So, do first-year coaches perform particularly well against the spread in preseason games?
To arrive at this answer, we looked at a sample of 64 first-year head coaches since 2002, the year the Houston Texans joined the NFL and the league realigned the divisions. Every team but the Patriots and Eagles have made a coaching change during that time, and the Raiders have made seven of them.
The results were underwhelming. First-year coaches have posted an overall ATS record of 129-131-5 (49.6%), and only three coaches—Romeo Crennel (2005), Mike Nolan (2005) and Jim Mora Jr. (2009)—have had perfect 4-0 ATS records.
Five coaches went winless.
While it’s still important to handicap coaches in the preseason, you’ll want to look at each of them on an individual basis rather than as a whole.
Every organization takes a different approach to preseason, and the strategy likely changes by the week depending on the team’s stated goals.