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Bill Belichick tops list of NFL’s most profitable coaches for bettors

Can picking NFL winners against the spread be as easy as blindly backing the league’s best coaches?

Based on a poll of Las Vegas bookmakers and numbers from Bet Labs that date to 2003, the simple answer appears to be yes.

We asked sportsbook directors Chris Andrews (South Point), Nick Bogdanovich (William Hill), Chuck Esposito (Sunset Station) and Jeff Stoneback (The Mirage) and Westgate vice president of risk Ed Salmons to list their top five active NFL coaches.

The unanimous No. 1 pick was Bill Belichick (Patriots). The consensus No. 2 choice was John Harbaugh (Ravens), No. 3 was Sean Payton (Saints), No. 4 was Andy Reid (Chiefs) and No. 5 was Pete Carroll (Seahawks).

Replace Harbaugh with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer on that list and that’s the order of the five most profitable active coaches since 2003.

1. Belichick is 160-98-8 ATS (62.2 percent) in the regular season. Based on a $100 bet on every game, Belichick backers would be up $5,776.

“Belichick is in a class by himself,” Salmons said. “It’s surprising the Patriots can be over .500 against the spread, because when you look at all these great teams, oddsmakers know they’re great and overprice them by so many points.

“It’s so hard to be over 50 percent, given all those circumstances.”

2. Zimmer didn’t earn any votes for top-five coach, but he’s the top earner besides Belichick, going 57-33-1 ATS (63.3 percent) for a profit of $2,079.

Harbaugh is one of seven active coaches to win a Super Bowl, joining Belichick, Payton, Carroll, Jon Gruden (Raiders), Mike Tomlin (Steelers) and Doug Pederson (Eagles).

But he’s barely above .500 ATS (90-88-8).

3. Payton is 111-88-3 ATS (55.8) for a profit of $1,937.

“Harbaugh and Payton put players in position to succeed instead of putting them in their system, and that’s what great coaches do,” Salmons said. “They do the most with what they have.

“Another thing most of these guys do, especially Harbaugh and Payton, is they go for so many fourth-and-3s and fourth-and-4s. They’re not busy kicking stupid field goals.”

4. Reid hasn’t won a Super Bowl, but he’s 141-121-5 ATS with Philadelphia and Kansas City for a profit of $1,400.

“You have to put Andy Reid up there just for his development on the offensive side and what he did with a young Donovan McNabb and Patrick Mahomes,” Esposito said.

5. Carroll is 82-65-7 ATS for a profit of $1,374.

“Pete Carroll’s just amazing,” Salmons said. “A couple years ago, they got rid of half of their defense. But it didn’t matter. They just kept winning.”

The top five coaches who cover are a combined 551-405-24 ATS (57.6) for a profit of $12,556. They’re a combined 31-20 ATS this season.

— Other receiving votes were Tomlin (102-96-4 ATS), Gruden (54-65-3 ATS), Sean McVay (Rams, 25-20-1 ATS) and Frank Reich (Colts, 15-12-2 ATS).

— In Gruden’s defense, Bet Labs’ data doesn’t include the first five seasons of his coaching career, when he went 50-30 and guided Tampa Bay to the Super Bowl title.

No matter what happens the rest of this season, Salmons said Gruden should be named the NFL Coach of the Year for leading a young Raiders team to a 6-4 record despite dealing with the Antonio Brown drama in the preseason; the franchise’s impending move from Oakland to Las Vegas; and a brutal schedule in which they didn’t play a home game for almost two months.

“He was in a no-win situation,” Salmons said. “Probably half the teams in the league in that situation would go 2-14.”

— 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan (19-22-1 ATS) earned an honorable mention, and Esposito expects him and Reich to keep climbing the charts.

“You can make a case that the offense the Falcons had when they went to the Super Bowl and the offense the Eagles had when they won the Super Bowl, a big part of that was Kyle Shanahan and Frank Reich,” he said. “They’ve carried that over as head coaches, and I look for both of those guys to win Super Bowls as head coaches in their career.”

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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