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Ranking the best NFL coaches this season

Carolina's Ron Rivera and Arizona's Bruce Arians are 27-3 combined this season. Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports

The best coaching jobs do not always produce the best records, but winners dominate my lists of top head coaches, coordinators and position coaches through Week 16. That is the way of the world in the bottom-line NFL, although a few coaches from losing teams deserve special mention this season.

We begin with the head coaches, of course. The Carolina Panthers' Ron Rivera has gone 18-1 in his last 19 regular-season games, and he has done it against expectation, earning him top billing. Here are the other coaches who have impressed the most this season.


Five head coaches

(We proceed under the assumption that New England's Bill Belichick remains the best coach in the league, and that listing him here would be redundant.)

1. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers: Rivera has a clear vision for how he wants the Panthers to play on both sides of the ball. He survived a change at general manager after the 2012 season, and managed to keep a unified team pointed in the right direction amid cap-driven tweaks to the roster.

2. Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals: Arians is best known for his work with the Cardinals' offense, but the head coach's job description covers the entire team. Promoting the little-known James Bettcher to defensive coordinator when the team lost Todd Bowles to the New York Jets goes under the radar among key moves by head coaches. Arians previously hired Bowles to replace incumbent defensive coordinator Ray Horton when Bowles was coming off a rough season in Philadelphia and Horton looked like the safer option. Arians coaches without fear, and it carries over to his team.