Power Ranking Every NFL Head Coach in the 2013 Playoff Field
The NFL teams that made it into the 2013 playoffs are coached by some of the brightest minds in the league, but how do the head coaches stack up?
This isn't an exercise to determine which coach would win in a death-match tournament. We all know it would come down to the two Harbaugh brothers, were that the case.
What we'll be looking at, instead, is what kind of playoff experience, game management and motivational prowess these leaders bring to the table for their respective teams.
Now, on to the rankings!
12. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings
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This isn't a knock on Leslie Frazier, but of all the head coaches in this year's playoffs, he ranks at the bottom of the list.
Frazier has never coached in the playoffs, nor is his team particularly suited to win on the road. Should Adrian Peterson get shut down (not likely, we know), Christian Ponder's limited capabilities in the passing game will sink the Vikings.
Still, nobody expected the Vikings to make it this far, and perhaps Frazier's gang will put the entire package together for a legendary run. We know he's not a rah-rah coach, and his steady approach to leadership has served his team well so far.
Stranger things have happened...
11. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals
Since becoming the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003, Marvin Lewis has yet to win a single playoff game, leading his team to a record of 0-3.
The Bengals have been inconsistent this year, as well, going hot and cold throughout the season. And though Cincinnati is currently on a three-game winning streak, it'll be hard pressed to win games on the road in January.
Lewis' gang may well prove us wrong, but until we see the Bengals actually win a game when it matters, we don't have any faith of a deep playoff run.
10. Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans
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Sure, the Houston Texans won 12 games this year, but this team is trending down at the wrong time.
Gary Kubiak's gang has lost three of its last four games, and what was once one of the league's most dominant defenses has been worn down and abused in the process.
Kubiak has never struck me as a coach with a killer instinct, either, and the way his team was hammered by the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots this season gives me no confidence in its ability to win big games in January.
9. Mike Smith, Atlanta Falcons
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Since Mike Smith took over as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, his team is 0-3 in the playoffs.
This year, the Falcons are the No. 1 seed in the NFC, yet I don't know of any analyst who has picked Atlanta to win the Super Bowl.
Smith, like Gary Kubiak, doesn't seem to have the motivational skill to crank his team up for the level of intensity that the playoffs bring, and I'll frankly be shocked if the Falcons win a game in January.
8. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts
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Chuck Pagano may not have been on the sidelines or in the locker room for most of the 2012 season, but his presence was felt by the Indianapolis Colts all year long.
The Colts became galvanized through his struggle with leukemia, and the team fought toward the goal of winning football games as he fought for his life.
Now that he's back in action, the Colts are prepped to challenge the best in the AFC for the right to play in Super Bowl XLVII, however unlikely it may be.
Don't discount the power of momentum, folks. The Colts have it, and we'll see how far it takes them this January.
7. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
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The Seattle Seahawks have just come down from one of the all-time highs in NFL history, scoring 150 points in three games between Week 14 and Week 16.
This team went undefeated at home in 2012, and it features one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the league, one of the best running backs in the NFL and a top-ranked defense that is capable of shutting any team down.
That said, the Seahawks will need to win on the road in order to make it to New Orleans in 2013, and a 3-5 record in road games this season doesn't inspire confidence in that regard. Furthermore, the Seahawks haven't won a road game in the playoffs since Carroll started coaching—their lone win coming at home in 2010.
6. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
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Mike McCarthy has won a Super Bowl recently, but sometimes it seems like the Green Bay Packers win in spite of him, not because of him.
He nearly Schwartz'd himself in Week 17 on a contested play when James Jones crossed the plane of the end zone but was ruled to have fumbled beforehand. The officials had already begun the review process, otherwise, the Packers would have been forced to accept the ruling on the field.
As it was, he was slapped with a 15-yard penalty in what is just another in a long line of poor management at the end of games.
Other instances of poor game management this year include McCarthy's decision to run a fake punt near his own goal line late in the team's Week 15 win against the Chicago Bears and a timeout that was taken after killing a play right beforehand in Week 5—a game the Packers lost to the Indianapolis Colts.
5. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers
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Love him or hate him, you have to give Jim Harbaugh credit for having the balls to make tough decisions and stick with them. His decision to bench Alex Smith in favor of Colin Kaepernick may end up haunting the 49ers in the playoffs, but then again, he may end up looking like the next Bill Walsh if it works out.
Harbaugh's lack of experience as a head coach at the NFL level, combined with the uncertainty of how this quarterback controversy will play out forces me to rank him lower than the rest of the elite coaches on this list.
That said, his ability to get the 49ers to the next level after the mediocrity that was Mike Nolan and Mike Singletary has been quite impressive thus far.
We'll find out soon enough if Harbaugh deserves to get bumped up into the top three.
4. John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
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John Harbaugh has the Baltimore Ravens contending for a championship every year, and since he joined the franchise in 2008, the Ravens have won at least one playoff game every season.
That said, he has yet to lead his team to a win in a conference championship—let alone a Super Bowl.
It will be interesting to see how this year's squad performs. Unlike what Harbaugh has had in years past, the 2012 Ravens don't feature a dominant defense, and it remains to be seen how well Jim Caldwell can lead the offense under the pressure of the playoffs microscope.
3. Jon Fox, Denver Broncos
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Jon Fox has done an incredible job turning the Denver Broncos into a dominant team in the AFC.
Of course, adding Peyton Manning has had something to do with the transformation, but Fox led his team to the playoffs last year with Tim Tebow.
Furthermore, his stint with the Carolina Panthers proves that Fox knows how to get the most out of his teams, as he took Jake Delhomme to the Super Bowl back in 2003.
The Broncos have ripped off 11 straight games, and they look like the favorites in the AFC to make it to New Orleans this February.
2. Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins
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Remember when the Washington Redskins took their 3-6 record into the bye week? Remember how Mike Shanahan said that it was time to evaluate which players would be worthy of keeping in 2013 and beyond, and then remember how many experts said he'd mailed the season in?
Shanahan is a wily veteran coach who knows what the heck he's doing.
Since that speech, the Redskins haven't lost a game, and with a victory in Week 17 against the Dallas Cowboys, Shanahan's team clinched the No. 4 seed in the NFC.
Now, I'm not predicting the 'Skins will win the NFC championship game or anything, but you have to give Shanahan the credit he's due for the turnaround.
Furthermore, we need to respect the fact that Shanahan has won two Super Bowls in his career as a head coach and a bunch of playoff games along the way.
1. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
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As if any other coach could possibly sit atop this list.
Bill Belichick's New England Patriots have won 16 playoff games since 2000, three Lombardi Trophies and have appeared in five Super Bowls.
No other coach in this year's playoffs comes close to matching his track record, and the Patriots look primed once again for a deep run in this year's tournament.
Fear the hoodie.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78.