2011 NFL Playoffs: Power Ranking Rex Ryan, Lovie Smith and All the Coaches
We are one round away from the Super Bowl and what an exciting postseason it has been.
With great performances from the likes of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, some may overlook the head coaches of the four teams remaining in the playoffs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers all possess great head coaches: Now the only question is, who is the best?
All these coaches will be put to the test this weekend in the AFC and NFC Championship games.
Slides include a power ranking of the head coaches, matchups and predictions.
4: Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
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The 2010 season was Lovie Smith's seventh as the head coach of the Chicago Bears.
Smith has done a good job as the Bears' head coach over the past seven years, including a playoff appearance in the 2005 season and a Super Bowl XLI appearance in the 2006 season, falling short to the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17.
Smith has his Bears back in the playoffs and he is one game away from returning to the Super Bowl.
3: Rex Ryan, New York Jets
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I know there will be a lot of Jet fans who disagree with Ryan's spot, but this is only his second season as a head coach.
Moving on, Ryan has done a tremendous job with the New York Jets during his first two seasons as head coach, leading them to two AFC Championship games.
During his rookie season as head coach, Ryan led the Jets to the AFC Championship game only to lose to the Colts.
This postseason, the Jets beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in back-to-back weeks. Now they have another great quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, waiting for them in Pittsburgh.
2: Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
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I placed Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy second because I think he did a great job in 2010 with the Packers.
The Packers fought through injuries to Jermichael Finley, Ryan Grant and, most importantly, star quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers missed two pivotal games down the stretch, both of which were losses. McCarthy managed to keep the Packers focused and still led them to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth.
After two impressive wins this postseason, the Packers have to travel to Chicago to take on the Bears in the NFC Championship game.
1: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers
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Mike Tomlin has done a great job with the Pittsburgh Steelers since joining them in 2007.
Tomlin and the Steelers went to the playoffs during his rookie season as head coach, only to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the 2008 season, Tomlin and the Steelers were back in the playoffs and went to the Super Bowl to beat the Cardinals for the Steelers' sixth Super Bowl.
Tomlin has led the Steelers to the playoffs in three of his four seasons as head coach, and he awaits the New York Jets for the AFC Championship game.
NFC Championship: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
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The Packers and Bears split their two matchups of the regular season.
The Bears came out on top in Week 3, 20-17. In Week 17, the Packers needed a win to make the playoffs and that's exactly what they did.
It was not a pretty game, but Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fought for four quarters and beat the Bears 10-3 to clinch a playoff berth for the second year in a row.
The NFC Championship matchup should be a dog fight and it is the oldest rivalry in the National Football League.
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The Chicago Bears have home-field advantage in this game, but that might not matter going up against the red-hot Aaron Rodgers.
Rodgers completed 31-of-36 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns while running in another touchdown.
Rodgers is on a mission, so the Bears must find a way to slow him down.
In three career playoff games, Rodgers has thrown 10 touchdowns with only one interception—just amazing.
Rodgers faces a tougher test in the Bears defense, but I do not think it will matter. The Packers take this one and reach their first Super Bowl since losing 31-24 to Denver in Super Bowl XXXII.
Prediction: Packers 27, Bears 20
AFC Championship: New York Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers
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The New York Jets will meet the Steelers in Pittsburgh for the second time this season.
Their first meeting came in Week 15, which the Jets won 22-17.
This time around will be much different as safety Troy Polamalu, who is a key ingredient to the Steelers' success, will be back.
The Jets are in the AFC Championship game for the second year in a row after a shocking and impressive victory over Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
This should be a great game that will come down to the wire just as it did in Week 15.
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The New York Jets have had an impressive playoff run this postseason but, unfortunately for them, it is going to end this weekend.
The Jets have not faced a defense like the Steelers' during the playoffs, so this will be a difficult task.
I know the Jets beat the Steelers in Week 15, but it is very difficult to beat a team twice in their building.
It is going to be a tight game that is going to come down to a big defensive play late, and it will be made by Troy Polamalu.
Prediction: Steelers 23, Jets 21
Super Bowl Prediction: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Green Bay Packers
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Super Bowl XLV will be between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers.
The Steelers and Packers last met in Week 15 in the 2009 season, in which the Steelers won on a last-second touchdown from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace.
The Steelers won the shootout 37-36 and Roethlisberger threw for an amazing 503 yards with three touchdown passes.
The stage would be much bigger this time around and Aaron Rodgers is a better quarterback and would be a tougher test for that Steelers' defense.
However, as difficult as Rodgers may be to stop, the Steelers' defense would make the difference in this game.
Prediction: Steelers 28, Packers 24
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There are four great coaches and four great remaining teams as we get ready for the AFC and NFC Championship games.
I predicted the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers to both come out on top this weekend to reach Super Bowl XLV.
With my predicted outcome for these games, I have the Steelers moving on to defeat the Packers in the Super Bowl for their seventh Super Bowl victory.
Please leave any comments or opinions below on the previous slides.