NFC X-Factors: Pete Carroll Is King - Prediction Machine

NFC X-Factors: Pete Carroll Is King

NFC X-Factors

Coaching Will Determine NFC

It’s no secret that the NFC is the weaker of the NFL’s two conferences headed into 2023.

While the AFC is expected to have a log jam of teams vying for the playoffs, the NFC has a lot of question marks after the Eagles, 49ers, and Cowboys. Using Super Bowl Odds, the Seahawks (+3000) are perceived as the next strongest team in the conference which means the top four teams in the conference may all reside NFC East and the NFC West. In other words, the door is wide open for a surprise team from the NFC North and NFC South to earn the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds at least one home game in the playoffs.

From a betting perspective, that means if ever there was a season to bet on a long shot team to win the Super Bowl or the NFC, this is the year. For those with conviction on the Packers (+6500 to win the Super Bowl), the Falcons (+6000), or the Panthers (+8000) or others, there is a path.

With so many seemingly even matched rosters in the NFC, the X-factor in determining the NFC playoff seeding may come down to which head coach can steer their team to the most close victories.

With that in mind, we’re taking a look at NFC coaches headed into Week 1.

Tier 1: Elite

Pete Carroll (Seahawks)

I’m putting Carroll all alone in this tier after what he was able to pull off last season bringing Seattle into the playoffs and helping Geno Smith revive his career with what was considered one of the worst rosters in the NFL to start the season. If the Patriots’ struggles after Tom Brady left New England hurts Bill Belechick’s legacy, then we ought to give Pete Carroll his due for making the playoffs immediately after Russell Wilson left town.

Carroll is a master and getting the most out of young unproven players and it’s going to be fun to see what he can do with a roster that looks improved from last season.

Tier 2: They Make Their Teams Better

Kyle Shanahan (49ers), Sean McVay (Rams), Brian Daboll (Giants), Nick Sirianni (Eagles)

This tier consists of two veterans (Shanahan and McVay) and two newcomers who look like they’ll be coaching for a while (Sirianni and Daboll).

Daboll was the 2022 Coach of the Year, but it seems like everyone is chalking the Giants’ overachieving success up to luck and expecting regression. If Daboll can drag the Giants into the playoffs again, he might make an argument for being in the elite tear already. It’s difficult to say how much credit Sirianni deserves for the Eagles’ success the last two seasons because the roster is so loaded, but it’s tough to argue with back-to-back playoff berths and a 23-11 win-loss record. 

Shanahan and McVay are excellent play callers who have thrived when they have loaded rosters and struggled at times when injuries or lack of talent gives them shaky rosters. Both men are from the same coaching tree and no defensive coordinator in the league gets a lot of sleep the night before playing them.

Tier 3: Middle of the Road

Matt LaFleur (Packers), Frank Reich (Panthers), Arthur Smith (Falcons), Kevin O’Connell (Vikings), Dan Campbell (Lions), Matt Eberflus (Bears), Jonathan Gannon (Cardinals), Mike McCarthy (Cowboys)

This tier consists of guys who we don’t know enough about (like Gannon in his 1st year) and veterans like LaFleur and McCarthy who have made playoff runs, but don’t seem to move their teams needle like coaches in tiers one and two.

Campbell has the shortest odds to win Coach of the Year (+850) and is perhaps the most likely coach in this tier to move up to Tier 2 next season. That said, this is the first time Campbell enters a season with playoff expectations so this 2023 will be a pivotal year for how he’s perceived around the league.

Kevin O’Connell was a wizard last season pulling wins out of thin air, but if the Vikings struggle this season in a wide open division, don’t be surprised if he ends up on the hot seat before long.

Tier 4: On the Hot Seat

Ron Rivera (Commanders), Dennis Allen (Saints), Todd Bowles (Buccaneers)

Dennis Allen has an awful 15-38 resume as head coach, but he also has a great excuse for those disappointing seasons as he was coaching a bad Raiders team. If Allen’s Saints don’t make the playoffs in 2023, I fully expect him to be fired.

There are already rumors about Rivera being fired mid-season in favor of his offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy and despite his seat warming up, he’s pushed all his chips to the middle of the table by riding with QB Sam Howell instead of trying to upgrade the position. If Howell looks sloppy early, this may be Rivera’s last stand.