Sports Q: Who was Bill Belichick’s best playoff opponent?

Debate with Chad Finn and Boston sports fans at The Sports Q.

Tom Coughlin, Tony Dungy, John Harbaugh
Tom Coughlin, Tony Dungy, and John Harbaugh all have playoff victories against Bill Belichick's Patriots. –AP Photos

Welcome to’s Sports Q, our daily conversation, initiated by you and moderated by Chad Finn, about a compelling topic in Boston sports. Here’s how it works: You submit questions to Chad through TwitterFacebook, email, and any other outlet you prefer. He’ll pick one each weekday to answer, then we’ll take the discussion to the comments. Chad will stop by several times per day to navigate, but you drive the conversation.

I have a question for you. Who is the best coach Bill Belichick has faced in the playoffs and Super Bowl in his career? I think if you go down the list it will confirm even more how far above other coaches he is. Andy Reid might be one of the best of them. — Steve C.


Let’s go through the list, then. Here are the coaches Belichick has faced in the postseason as Patriots coach:

  • Jon Gruden, Oakland (2001)
  • Bill Cowher, Pittsburgh (2001, ’04)
  • Mike Martz, St. Louis (2001)
  • Jeff Fisher, Tennessee (2003)
  • Tony Dungy, Indianapolis (2003, ’04, ’06)
  • John Fox (2003 with Carolina; 2011, ’13 with Denver)
  • Andy Reid (2004 with Philadelphia; 2015, ’18 with Kansas City)
  • Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville (2005, ’07)
  • Mike Shanahan, Denver (2005)
  • Eric Mangini, N.Y. Jets (2006)
  • Marty Schottenheimer, San Diego (2006)
  • Norv Turner, San Diego (2007)
  • Tom Coughlin, N.Y. Giants (2007, ’11)
  • John Harbaugh, Baltimore (2009, ’11, ’12, ’14)
  • Rex Ryan, N.Y. Jets (2010)
  • Gary Kubiak, Denver (2012, ’15)
  • Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis (2013, ’14)
  • Pete Carroll, Seattle (2014)
  • Bill O’Brien, Houston (2016)
  • Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (2016)
  • Dan Quinn, Atlanta (2016)
  • Mike Mularkey, Tennessee (2017)
  • Doug Marrone, Jacksonville (2017)
  • Doug Pederson, Philadelphia (2017)
  • Anthony Lynn, L.A. Chargers (2018)

Wow, that’s a lot of coaches — 25, to be exact. I think the choice for best coach/nemesis is pretty obvious, and I think Belichick would agree that it’s Coughlin. Dungy should probably be second since he’s in the Hall of Fame. John Harbaugh has had some success, and Shanahan and Cowher also would get some votes. Carroll, however, is a chump.

The twist on the question is this: Who is the best coach Belichick has faced in the playoffs during his entire career? It would have to be Bill Parcells, right? Belichick’s Browns bounced the Parcells’ Patriots from the playoffs in 1994.

But what does everyone else think? Who is the best coach Bill Belichick has faced in the postseason? I’ll hear you in the comments.

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