The 2021-22 NFL playoffs feature five coaches with Super Bowl championships and four first-timers.
Bill Belichick and Andy Reid are at the top of our NFL postseason coach rankings, of course, and it’s hard to argue with 36 playoff appearances and eight Super Bowl victories. Belichick is a default setting at the top, but the rest of the list has some interesting debates.
Should Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur be ranked ahead of Los Angeles’ Sean McVay? Try the same question with Buffalo’s Sean McDermott and Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel. Of course, Mike McCarthy is back in the playoff, too.
It will be interesting to see which first timer out of Kliff Kingsbury, Zac Taylor, Nick Sirianni and Rich Bisaccia can get their first victory.
With that in mind, here is a look at Sporting News NFL playoff coach rankings:
1. Bill Belichick, Patriots
Record: 290-143 (31-12 playoffs)
Belichick tied Don Shula with a NFL record 19th playoff appearance by leading New England to a 10-7 record this season. Belichick has won six Super Bowls as a head coach and two more as a coordinator, and his presence alone in the playoffs makes the rubber-match with Buffalo interesting. Can Belichick lead a playoff run without Tom Brady? We’re about to find out.
2. Andy Reid, Chiefs
Record: 233-135-1, (17-15)
Reid is fourth all time with 17 playoff appearances. There is a strong case to put Reid at No. 1 based on the “right now” factor. The Chiefs are looking for a third straight Super Bowl trip, and the Reid-Patrick Mahomes combo is 6-2 in the postseason. Reid is 7-6 in the playoffs since taking over at Kansas City.
3. Mike Tomlin, Steelers
Record: 154-85-2 (8-8)
Tomlin has two Super Bowl appearances, and the Steelers have never had a losing record since he took over in 2008. Pittsburgh, however, has not won a playoff game since 2016. The Steelers did lead a last-minute playoff run to extend the Ben Roethlisberger farewell tour, but a matchup with the Chiefs won’t be easy. That said, Tomlin could have a few tricks to make it competitive.
4. Bruce Arians, Buccaneers
Record: 80-48-1 (5-2)
Arians joined the Super Bowl-winning fraternity last season, and he has a chance to lead the Buccaneers to back-to-back championships. Tom Brady helps, but Tampa Bay has dealt with injuries and the fallout from Antonio Brown’s release after Week 17. Still, the pieces are in place for another run, and if anything Tampa Bay isn’t being talked about enough right now.
5. Matt LaFleur, Packers
Record: 39-10 (2-2)
LaFleur has led the Packers to the best record in the regular season, and that includes back-to-back NFC North championship appearances. Green Bay is set up for another run as the No. 1 seed, and the drama will be high given last year’s offseason with Aaron Rodgers. LaFleur was questioned for the late field goal against Tampa Bay in last year’s NFC championship. He responded well, but now is the time for a Super Bowl run. That won’t be easy.
6. Sean McVay, Rams
Record: 55-26, 3-3
McVay has led the Rams to four 10-win seasons in five years, and he does have a Super Bowl appearance. LaFleur did win the head-to-head in the playoffs last year and regular season this year, however. The Rams have the star power necessary to make another run, but it’s on McVay to lead it now.
7. Mike McCarthy, Cowboys
Record: 144-92-2, 10-8
McCarthy has a winning record in Green Bay with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, too. He’s the fifth coach on this list with a Super Bowl championship, and he’s back in the playoffs after leading Dallas to a 12-5 record. McCarthy is making his 10th playoff appearance, and his teams won at least one game in six of those 10 seasons. He hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2016. We’ll make him prove it again.
8. Mike Vrabel, Titans
Record: 41-24 (4-2)
Vrabel has four straight winning seasons, and the Titans are the No. 1 seed in the AFC despite the injury to Derrick Henry. Tennessee was a one-and-done last season, and they will get a tough second-round matchup. Can Vrabel get this team back to the AFC championship, this time with home-field advantage?
9. Sean McDermott, Bills
Record: 49-32 (2-3)
McDermott is on a rollin the regular season. The Bills are 34-15 in the regular season, which is tied for the third best record in the NFL in that stretch. McDermott led the Bills to the AFC championship last season, and the talent is there on both sides to make another playoff run.
10. Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
Record: 39-42 (2-1)
Shanahan does have a Super Bowl run, and the 49ers made an impressive last-ditch playoff run this season. That said, Vrabel and McDermott have been more consistent in the regular season. Shanahan can prove that all over again by leading San Francisco to an upset win in the high-profile showdown against the Cowboys.
11. Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals
Record: 24-24-1 (0-0)
Kingsbury is making his first playoff appearance, and there have been ups-and-downs for the Cardinals this season. Kyler Murray was the right pick to build the franchise around, and injuries have got in the way this season. Still, Arizona won 11 games in a division that produced three playoff teams.
12. Zac Taylor, Bengals
Record: 16-32-1 (0-0)
Taylor’s first two seasons produced a 6-25-1 record, but he silenced most of the critics by guiding the Bengals to a 10-7 record and AFC North Division title. The Bengals have a top-10 scoring offense at 27.1 ppg, and Taylor proved he’s the right coach for a team built around offensive stars Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. If the Bengals break a postseason win drought that extends back to 1990, then that will drive that point home.
13. Nick Sirianni, Eagles
Record: 9-8 (0-0)
Sirianni is one of six rookie coaches who started the season, and he is the only one who made the postseason. The Eagles ranked 12th in the NFL in scoring (26.1), and Sirianni has maximized the talents of quarterback Jalen Hurts. Philadelphia won six of its last eight games, too.
14. Rich Bisaccia, Raiders
Record: 7-5 (0-0)
This is in no way a knock on Bisaccia, who took the Raiders to the playoffs as an interim coach following Jon Gruden’s resignation. The 61 year old coach has been a lifetime assistant in the college and pro game since 1983. Bisaccia deserves consideration for the Raiders’ job, especially if they can beat Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card round.