For most NFL coaches, there’s only one goal every season, and that goal is to win the Super Bowl. Of the 32 coaches currently in the league, a total of nine have already accomplished that goal, led by Bill Belichick, who has won a total of six Super Bowls as a head coach.
Of course, if nine coaches have already won a Lombardi Trophy, that means there are 23 coaches who have yet to win one, and those are the coaches we’re going to talk about right now. Welcome to the only list on the internet where we rank NFL coaches based on who has the best chance of winning their FIRST Super Bowl ever this season.
The top coach on last year’s list was Chiefs coach Andy Reid, and as you probably noticed, Reid won the Super Bowl in 2019, which means he’s no longer eligible to be ranked here. Remember, we’re ranking coaches based on the chance they have of getting their FIRST Super Bowl win, which means any coach who has already won a Super Bowl is disqualified from making this list. That means Belichick, John Harbaugh, Pete Carroll, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, Doug Pederson, Mike McCarthy, Jon Gruden, and Reid will not be on the list below, because they’ve all won at least one Super Bowl.
As for the other 23 coaches, here’s how we feel about their chances of taking home their first Lombardi Trophy as a head coach. Last year, this ranking predicted that Reid would win a Super Bowl and that’s exactly what happened, so who’s in the top spot this year? Let’s find out.
These two guys are being lumped together for two reasons: For one, they play in the NFC East, which is a division that has been dominated by the Cowboys and Eagles over the past few years, and 2020 doesn’t feel like it’s going to be any different. The other reason these two are being lumped together is because they’re both going into their first year as the coach of a new team, and for Judge, it’s his first year as a head coach overall. Rivera has about 9,000 questions he needs to get answered about his team before the start of the season and four weeks of practice doesn’t seem like it will be enough to get those answered. As for Judge, one of the Giants’ biggest issues last season was their offensive line and it doesn’t seem like that’s a problem that’s been fixed for 2020, thanks in large part to the fact that left tackle Nate Solder decided to opt-out for the season.
21. Doug Marrone, Jaguars
It will be fascinating to see how the Jaguars locker room reacts to Marrone this year, and that’s because the team has made some interesting moves this offseason. For one, they traded away two of their best defensive players (Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye), which is mostly interesting because they’re still refusing to trade the one guy who actually wants to be traded (Yannick Ngakoue). Let’s also not forget that one of their best offensive players (Leonard Fournette) made a public plea for the team to sign Cam Newton, which probably didn’t sit well with the guy who currently has the quarterback job (Gardner Minshew). Not only do the Jags feel like a team in total disarray, but they’re in a division with three playoff contenders, which means I’m giving Marrone a zero percent chance of winning his first Super Bowl this year.
20. Adam Gase, Jets
When the Jets decided to trade away Jamal Adams back in July, it basically felt like they were giving up on the season so they could start planning for the future. The Jets actually got a great haul in exchange for Adams with compensation that includes two first-round picks, but unfortunately for Gase, having two future first-round picks isn’t going to help him win this year.
19. Zac Taylor, Bengals
Any chance Taylor has of winning the Super Bowl is going to completely hinge on Joe Burrow, and unfortunately for the Bengals, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Although plenty of rookie quarterbacks have led their team to the postseason, no rookie quarterback has ever led their team to a Super Bowl win, which means it’s highly unlikely we’ll see the Bengals holding up the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season.
In a normal offseason, Rhule might be slightly higher on this list, but in a pandemic offseason where teams will only be getting roughly four weeks of practice before the season starts, it just doesn’t feel like there’s any way Rhule will have his team competing for a Super Bowl. That doesn’t mean the Panthers can’t be good, it just means that it’s tough to compete when you’re the only team in the NFL that’s trying to break in a new head coach, two new coordinators and a new starting quarterback during a shortened offseason.
17. Matt Patricia, Lions
Slay is an All-Pro corner, and if he feels that way about Patricia, there’s a good chance that there are a few other players in the locker room who feel the same way. Patricia might not have completely lost the Lions locker room (yet), but it feels like this is a team that’s not going to be heading to the Super Bowl this year.
16. Brian Flores, Dolphins
The NFL has been a nightmare for former Bill Belichick assistants who are trying to make it on their own, but if there’s one person who might be able to buck that trend, it’s Brian Flores. The Dolphins coach willed his team to six wins last season, which was even more impressive when you consider that everyone thought Miami was tanking. After winning six games with a below-average roster in 2019, Flores should be able to improve upon that number after an offseason where the Dolphins upgraded at nearly every position. Although the Dolphins could be a dark horse to win the AFC East, they’re likely going to have to get past the Chiefs or Ravens to get to the Super Bowl, which doesn’t seem like something they’re capable of doing just yet.
The reason these two guys are lumped together is because they both coach in the AFC West and if the past five years are any indication, neither guy has any chance of winning the division. Since the start of the 2015 season, both the Broncos and Chargers have gone 1-9 against the Chiefs. If they can’t beat the Chiefs, that means they’re not going to win the division, and if they’re not going to win the division, they’re going to have to come out of the wild-card round to win the Super Bowl, which has been nearly impossible to do over the past few years. The last team to win the Super Bowl after playing on Wild Card Weekend came all the way back in 2012 when the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII over the 49ers.
13. Kevin Stefanski, Browns
For the past five years, it’s really felt like the Browns have been one competent head coach away from competing, and call me crazy, but I think they finally have that guy. On paper, the Browns have one of the most talented teams in the AFC and if Stefanski can navigate this team through the rough waters of the NFL season without crashing the ship — like the last few coaches have done — then the Browns could be on their way to their first playoff berth since 2002.
12. Matt Nagy, Bears
In a year where the NFC North should be wide open, the Bears will be going into the season with one huge disadvantage that the other three teams won’t have to deal with: They don’t know who their starting quarterback is going to be yet. Nagy is only going to have five weeks to figure whether Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles should be his starter. The problem with having a QB competition this year is that the Bears are only going to have less than a month of practice, which is barely enough time to get one quarterback ready, let alone two. It won’t be surprising if the Bears offense looks a little rusty to start the season, and if that happens, it could make it tough for the Bears to win the division.
11. Kliff Kingsbury, Cardinals
If there’s one person who shot up this list this year, it’s Kingsbury. Last year, Kingsbury was a first-year coach with a rookie quarterback, which is usually a recipe for disaster in the NFL, but somehow, the Cardinals scraped out a few wins in 2019, going 5-10-1. The most important thing for Kingsbury is that he learned this his offense can work at the pro level, which should give him some serious confidence heading into 2020. Another thing that should give him serious confidence is that the Cards added DeAndre Hopkins to an already lethal offense. Of course, the problem for Kingsbury is that he plays in the NFL’s toughest division, which is going to make it difficult to get to the Super Bowl.
10. Dan Quinn, Falcons
It might feel like Dan Quinn is a little bit too high on this list after leading his team to consecutive 7-9 seasons, but in this weird year, it feels like the Falcons could be a team that comes out of nowhere to make the playoffs. With no OTAs or minicamp in the spring and only five weeks of practice before the season starts, teams with continuity at key positions should benefit, and that Falcons have that with guys like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. The Falcons are also coming off a season where they beat two of the best teams in the NFC (49ers, Saints), which means we already know that they can compete with anyone. Quinn just needs to figure out how to coach in the first five weeks of the season, which is where the Falcons have stumbled in each of the past two years.
9. Mike Vrabel, Titans
Last year, Mike Vrabel promised to cut off his manly parts if the Titans won the Super Bowl, and although he didn’t have to cut anything off after the season, I’m guessing he learned his lesson, which means we probably won’t be seeing any crazy promises from the Titans coach this year. Of course, that’s probably for the best, because after last season, the Titans should be taken seriously as a Super Bowl contender.
8. Matt LaFleur, Packers
After a 13-3 season where the Packers finished tied for the best record in the NFC, you might be wondering why LaFleur isn’t higher on this list and the answer to that is because it’s hard to imagine the Packers doing better than they did last year. In 2019, nearly everything went perfectly for Green Bay, but despite that, they got stomped by San Francisco twice and didn’t make it to the Super Bowl. Regression is almost certainly coming for the Packers, because 13-win teams almost never come close to winning 13 games the following year. From 2014 to 2018, eight teams won exactly 13 games, and on average, they got worse by 3.6 games the following season. That list includes two Super Bowl teams (2018 Rams, 2017 Eagles), who both went 9-7 the year after going 13-3. Basically, it’s going to be difficult for the Packers to replicate what they did last year, and because of that, it’s hard to picture them getting anywhere near the Super Bowl in 2020.
7. Mike Zimmer, Vikings
If the Vikings hadn’t gutted their roster this offseason, Zimmer might have been slightly higher on this list. Although Zimmer has quietly been one of the best coaches in the NFL over the past five years, he’s going to have his work cut out for him in 2020 and that’s because not only does he have to figure out how to replace four starters on defense, but he also has to find someone to replace Stefon Diggs, who led the team in receiving last season with 1,130 yards (Diggs was the only player on the roster who finished with more than 550 yards). The biggest advantage for Zimmer is that the Vikings play in a wide open division and it won’t surprise anyone if they win it for the first time since 2017.
6. Bill O’Brien, Texans
If this ranking was taking into account Bill O’Brien the general manager, then O’Brien would probably be ranked last on this list, but it’s not, which is why O’Brien is ranked so high. As a head coach, O’Brien has actually done some pretty incredible stuff during his career with the Texans. Since being hired in 2014, O’Brien has finished with a winning record in five of six seasons and made the playoffs in four of six seasons. The Texans have also won the AFC South in four of the past five years. This is also the team that had the Chiefs on the ropes in the divisional round last year when they held a 24-0 lead over Kansas City. If O’Brien can figure out how to not a blow a 24-0 lead in a big game, the Texans could be a sleeper Super Bowl pick.
5. Sean McDermott, Bills
In three short years, McDermott has completely turned around the Bills’ fortunes. Before his arrival in 2017, the Bills went 17 straight years without making the playoffs. However, since McDermott’s hiring, the team has now made the postseason in two of the past three seasons, marking the first time since the 1998-2000 seasons that that’s happened. With Tom Brady no longer in the AFC East, the division feels wide open for the first time in years, and thanks to the roster that McDermott has built, the Bills might be able to win a division title for the first time since 1995. Of course, before McDermott can win a Super Bowl, he’ll actually need to win a playoff game, something he has yet to do, and something the Bills haven’t done in 25 years.
4. Sean McVay, Rams
In some corners of the internet — cough, Twitter — Sean McVay is viewed as one of the most overrated coaches in the NFL. However, this isn’t one of those corners. During his three seasons in Los Angeles, all he’s done is compile a 33-15 record with four playoff wins and a Super Bowl appearance. Even in his worst season, he still managed to go 9-7. Although the NFC West is loaded this year, McVay has had some serious success in divisional play (13-5 in three years), which is a big reason why it wouldn’t be completely surprising to see him make a return trip to the Super Bowl.
3. Frank Reich, Colts
It might seem odd to have Reich this high on the list, but let’s not forget about what he did last season. Even though his starting quarterback retired on him just two weeks before the season started, Reich still managed to lead his team to a 5-2 start, before the wheels fell off the wagon after Jacoby Brissett was injured in Week 9. During that 5-2 start, the Colts beat three playoff teams, including the Chiefs, who got manhandled by Indy during a 19-13 Colts’ win. For the 2020 season, Reich has added a quarterback in Philip Rivers who knows his system well, which is why I’m giving the Reich the best chance of any head coach in the AFC to win his first Super Bowl ever.
2. Kyle Shanahan, 49ers
Although Shanahan led the 49ers to the Super Bowl last season, he is NOT at the top of our list, and that’s mainly because Super Bowl losers almost never make it back to the big game the season after their loss. Over the past 40 years, only one team has followed up a Super Bowl defeat with a Super Bowl win the following season, and that was the 2018 Patriots. That’s not to say the 49ers won’t be good, I’m just saying that it’s going to be nearly impossible for them to be as good as they were last season, especially since they’ll be playing in arguably the toughest division in football.
Arians has been a head coach for seven seasons and in each of those seasons, he’s come up empty in the Super Bowl department, so to fix that problem, he brought in a secret weapon for 2020: Tom Brady. If the Buccaneers are going to win their second Super Bowl in franchise history, this feels like the season where it could happen. Although the Bucs went 7-9 last year, a big reason for that was because Jameis Winston perfected the art of throwing interceptions. The former Bucs quarterback threw 30 picks in 2019, which is worth noting, because Brady hasn’t thrown 30 picks in his past four seasons combined. Not only does Brady have plenty of Super Bowl experience, but he also has the kind of leadership that a young team like the Bucs could definitely use on the field.
If Arians can somehow win the Super Bowl this year, not only would he pick up his first Lombardi Trophy, but he’d also make NFL history by doing something that not even Belichick has ever done. The Super Bowl is being played in Tampa, which means Arians would be the first coach ever to win the game in his home stadium.