Maybe next year: The knock on the Seahawks is they're a different team on the road, and they certainly were in a 19-17 loss at San Francisco. Arizona won at Seattle last Sunday. Carroll's team has had a month to lock up a first-round bye and home-field advantage, and it has failed to do so. The final chance comes Sunday against St. Louis.
5. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia
He deserves it: Lots of successful college coaches have flopped in the pros. So far, Kelly isn't one of them. His up-tempo pace and creative route combinations have transformed the Eagles into a scary offensive powerhouse, and Kelly made a seamless quarterback transition from Michael Vick to Nick Foles, who have vastly different styles.
Maybe next year: The Eagles haven't made the playoffs yet. Their schedule was significantly easier than it first appeared (thanks in part to the disappointing New York Giants and Washington Redskins), and they caught teams at the right time, when stars were either injured or out. They were embarrassed at Minnesota, 48-30, even though the Vikings were without Adrian Peterson.
4. Andy Reid, Kansas City
He deserves it: The Chiefs, who were 2-14 and utterly dysfunctional last season, won their first nine games this fall and were the last undefeated team standing. Reid has gotten the best out of Alex Smith, and has helped elevate Jamaal Charles from a good back to a great one.
Maybe next year: That 9-0 start created unrealistic expectations, and it was a cold slap of reality when the schedule got tougher. The Chiefs are 2-0 against Oakland but a combined 0-3 against Denver and San Diego. The cupboard wasn't bare when Reid arrived; the Chiefs already had six Pro Bowl players on the roster.
3. Bruce Arians, Arizona
He deserves it: The Cardinals have won seven of eight in part because of the flexibility of Arians. He went against his throw-it-deep nature and has drawn up a more conservative game plan for Carson Palmer, who doesn't have the offensive line to take his time in the pocket. Last Sunday, the Cardinals were the first team in two years to win at Seattle, after being wiped out there last season, 58-0.
Maybe next year: Arizona probably won't make the playoffs and lost its first three division games. The Cardinals blew an 11-point lead to St. Louis in the opener, and that has come back to haunt them.
2. Bill Belichick, New England
He deserves it: This was one of Belichick's top three coaching performances, along with the Patriots' 16-0 season in 2007, and 11-win year without Tom Brady. Not only did the Patriots begin the season without their top five pass catchers from 2012 — among them Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and the incarcerated Aaron Hernandez — but they also went on to lose such standouts as defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, linebacker Jerod Mayo and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Despite that, New England went on to win another AFC East title, and had several dramatic victories, including a 24-point comeback against Denver, and beating Cleveland after being down by 12 with two minutes left.
Maybe next year: Not a lot of knocks on Belichick this season, other than he isn't going to win any popularity contests outside of the New England area. His team did lose to Miami two weeks ago, but every team has had its setbacks.
1. Ron Rivera, Carolina
He deserves it: Rivera, whose last two teams finished 6-10 and 7-9, was on the hot seat from the start this season, and when the Panthers started 1-3, it looked as if he might be the first coach fired. But his team has whipped a remarkable U-turn since, winning 10 of 11, including victories at San Francisco, and over New England and New Orleans. Cam Newton, who had a problem with pouting in his first two seasons, has matured into a team leader, in part because of Rivera's guidance, and Carolina's defensive front seven is as good as any in the game.
Maybe next year: Or maybe he won't have to wait.