Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
It’s time for a little honesty.
Raise your hand if you thought that the Arizona Cardinals would win 10 games this season, or possibly even 11. Yes, I know it’s hard to type and raise your hand at the same time.
Who would have thought that, in the very rugged NFC West, the Cards—losers of 11 of their last 12 games a year ago—would be staring at a possible playoff berth on the final Sunday of the regular season?
I wonder if head coach Bruce Arians has his hand raised. No matter, last season’s NFL Coach of the Year has made a very strong case to repeat, this time with the Cardinals. Filling in for ailing Chuck Pagano last season at Indianapolis, he helped lead the Colts to an 11-5 record and a playoff appearance.
In case you’re wondering, the last time this a coach won this award in consecutive seasons was 1982 and 1983, when Hall of Famer Joe Gibbs won Super Bowl XVII and reached Super Bowl XVIII with the Washington Redskins.
2. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Four games into their season, the Panthers were 1-3 and evoking memories of both 2011 and 2012, as the team won only twice in its first 10 outings. But Carolina has not only rebounded with 10 wins in its last 11 games, it has taken a one-game lead in the NFC South over a New Orleans Saints team that opened the season 4-0. Rivera has the Panthers in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
3. Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
With Reid having been the front-runner for the award for the majority of the season, it’s hard to ignore that the Chiefs have lost four of their last six games, including three straight at home, since opening 9-0. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that both Arians and Rivera have done exceptional jobs with perhaps a little less talent. But let’s not forget that this was a team that finished 2-14 in 2012, regardless of the fact that this is a roster with its share of Pro Bowlers.
In The Discussion
- 4. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles
- 5. Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
- 6. Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
- 7. Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins
- 8. Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
- 9. Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers
- 10. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals