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Where will they land?

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This year's coaching carousel remains an unpredictable beast.

After we spent much of last week explaining why Rex Ryan was an ideal match for the Atlanta Falcons, the former Jets coach turned around and chose the Buffalo Bills.

It's another reminder that we rarely know what these candidates -- or teams -- are thinking, but that won't stop us from trying.

With interviews unfolding across the league, let's take a moment to peek into the future.

Who fits where? Here's our take:


New York Jets: Todd Bowles

UPDATE: NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported later Tuesday that the Jets are indeed hiring Bowles. 

I get why people would kill the Jets for firing Rex only to turn around and hire another defensive-minded coach. Bottom line: Ryan's time in Gotham was over. 

With Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn involved in another long playoff run in Seattle, Gang Green is hot on the trail of Bowles, who will sit down for a second interview with the team on Tuesday. Look for the Jets to pounce.

New York's tortured fan base should feel good about the prospect of landing Bowles. All year long, the Cardinals defensive play-caller squeezed the most out of his roster, overcoming a laundry list of injuries -- and Daryl Washington's year-long suspension -- to help forge a playoff campaign in Arizona.

"The guy is special," one NFL coach told ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "People just don't understand, they don't make them like that anymore."


Atlanta Falcons: Dan Quinn

After watching Ryan slip away, the Falcons appeared to have narrowed their search to Bowles and Quinn. With Bowles off the list, we like Quinn to Atlanta for the same reason Rex made sense: Pairing a creative defensive talent with a ready-to-roll offense.

One of the league's brightest young coordinators, Quinn deserves credit as the primary author of Seattle's Super Bowl masterpiece against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. His work with The Legion of Boom has been equally high-caliber in 2014.

Quinn impressed us during Super Bowl week as an engaging, detail-oriented leader. After Cleveland chose not to wait around for him last winter, former Browns CEO Joe Banner called passing on the coach the toughest decision of the entire process. With Quinn already linked to one of the game's best young play-callers in Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons would be wise to hold out for Seattle's rising star.


San Francisco 49ers: Adam Gase

UPDATE: The 49ers have promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach, Rapoport reported, per a source involved. San Francisco chose to promote Tomsula over hiring Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

If the Niners want to develop Colin Kaepernick, Gase -- interviewing with the team on Tuesday -- makes plenty of sense.

Despite Sunday's crash-and-burn outing against the Colts, Peyton Manning thinks highly enough of the Broncos play-caller to sell Gase to multiple NFL teams as head-coaching material.

It helps that Gase worked previously for the 49ers and might be willing to keep the entire defensive coaching staff intact.


Oakland Raiders: Jack Del Rio

UPDATE: Rapoport and NFL Media's Albert Breer reported Wednesday that the Raiders have hired Jack Del Rio as head coach. Del Rio and the Raiders agreed to a four-year deal.

John Fox's firing in Denver has his assistants scurrying for cover. Rapoport reported that Del Rio -- taking a second interview with the Raiders on Tuesday -- is believed to be a strong candidate for the job.

While interim coach Tony Sparano made a strong impression in Oakland, we can't imagine the team will settle. Del Rio might not be the juiciest name out there, but he would give the Raiders an experienced leader to help develop Khalil Mack and this young Silver and Black defense.


Chicago Bears: John Fox

UPDATE: Rapoport reported, per two sources informed of the situation, that the Bears are set to make Fox their head coach. Fox is making preparations to take the position, and the two sides are in deep talks, Rapoport added.

The Bears want to match first-time general manager Ryan Pace with a veteran coach. They like Fox and Fox likes the Bears, per Rapoport.

Flushed out of Denver, Fox is a safe candidate for a Bears job riddled with challenges.

While Chicago's offense has plenty of talent, the team's next coach is tasked with turning around a disastrous defense while figuring out how to win with Jay Cutler. It's a step down from guiding a Super Bowl-ready squad, but one we expect Fox to take.


Denver Broncos: Gary Kubiak

A playoff juggernaut one week ago. Today, starting over.

Monday's stunning firing of Fox leaves the Broncos searching for a new coach while pondering a future that might not include Peyton Manning.

Denver adds a major curveball to the carousel, offering candidates a talent-heavy team with plenty of upside. Elway said Tuesday he wants a "like-minded" coach, which brings us to Kubiak. The Ravens offensive coordinator -- and Elway's former backup -- has declined requests for interviews, but Kubiak might be willing to speak with his old friend.

Can Elway get the gang together for one more run?

The latest Around The NFL Podcast recaps every Divisional Round game and ranks the remaining quarterbacks still standing. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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