In today’s NFL, Offense reigns supreme. Defenses are having to adjust to high potent air and ground attacks, that can score in a variety of ways. A good offensive unit can take a team to the playoffs, but a great one can lead to a championship. In this article, we will analyze the top three offenses going into the 2017 season.
New York Giants
The Giants have assembled a dangerous group of receivers for Eli Manning to use. Odell Beckham Jr. has been arguably the best receiver in the league since arriving in 2014. Brandon Marshall has been one of the elite talents at wide receiver with over 1,000 yards receiving in eight of his last ten seasons. Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram are both young, high upside weapons who will compete for targets this season.
The problem with this team lies in the offensive line. Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart were two of the worst offensive tackles in the league last year. Both ranked in the bottom 25 of all qualified tackles in 2016, according to ProFootballFocus. Add in the lack of quality running backs on the roster, and the Giants have a few issues to address before becoming an elite offense.
Last year, Dallas had one of the best rushing attacks in the league with rookie sensation Ezekiel Elliot at the helm. Elliot led the league in rushing with 1,631 yards and finished with 15 touchdowns. The team ranked second in the league in rushing yards per game and fifth in total yards per game with 376.
The reason the Cowboys are not one of the top three offenses in the league is the passing game. Quarterback Dak Prescott needs more weapons if this team wants to improve their aerial attack. The Cowboys ranked in the bottom half of the league in passing yards per game with 226. Star wide receiver, Dez Bryant has missed ten games over the past two seasons averaging less than 600 yards and five touchdowns. Cole Beasley is better as a primary slot receiver as opposed to filling in for an injured Bryant. Until Dez Bryant can maintain relative health and the Cowboys add more weapons this offense will be limited in their upside.
3. Oakland Raiders
After years of dwelling in the NFL’s bottom barrel, the Raiders are finally among the league’s elite. Oakland has their quarterback of the future in, former second round pick, Derek Carr. Carr has improved each year since coming into the league in 2014. Before going down with a leg injury last season, Carr had four games with three or more passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Alabama product and former number four overall pick Amari Cooper has been tremendous since entering the league, with Carr, in 2014. Cooper has over 2,000 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first two seasons. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been experiencing a career revival with the Raiders going over 1,000 yards and finding the end zone eight times last season. The arrival of Jared Cook adds more talent to the tight end position. Cook was the 11th rated tight end in the NFL last season.
However, the addition that makes this offense a top three unit is running back Marshawn Lynch. When healthy, Lynch is one of the elite running backs that this game has. From 2011-14 Lynch averaged over 1300 yards and 12 touchdowns a season. Running behind a solid offensive line in Oakland will be a major upgrade from the terrible one he experienced with the Seattle Seahawks. As long has health does not become an issue for this Raiders squad, this offense will be one of the most dangerous units in the league
2. New England Patriots
Any conversation about the Patriots offense starts with Tom Brady. In only 12 games, Brady threw for over 3,000 yards, 28 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. In fact, Brady finished top five in completion percentage; passing yards per attempt, quarterback rating and passing yards per game.
The Patriots recently acquired versatile wide out Brandin Cooks in a trade with the New Orleans Saints. Cooks averaged the fourth most yards per reception among receivers with over 60 receptions last season. With Cooks the Patriots add another 1,000-yard receiver to pair with Julian Edelman. Throw in running back James White, who was the second highest rated receiving half back in the NFL last season, and you have an elite stable of weapons for Brady.
Oh, and we almost forgot to mention former all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski. When on the field, Gronkowski is perhaps the most dangerous weapon in the league. The only issue is that he is not always on the field. Gronkowski played in only eight games last season, as he dealt with various ailments. However, he still graded out as the second best tight end in the NFL. Add a healthy Gronk to this team’s arsenal and this unit could easily be the best offense in the league
1. Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were 30 minutes away from a Super Bowl championship. Coming into the 2017 season the team’s main concern is finishing the job. With Matt Ryan, the reigning MVP, leading this talented offense that goal may become a reality. Ryan was amazing last season, orchestrating a Falcons team that led the league with an average of 33.8 points per game.
Three of Ryan’s favorite targets (Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Taylor Gabriel) ranked in the top 20 at the wide receiver position. Jones was a key factor in the team’s success, finishing the regular season with over 1,400 yards and six touchdowns.
The passing game was not the only part of the offense that was clicking. Running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman both ranked inside the top 20 running backs in the league. Freeman rushed for over 1,000 yards and added 11 rushing touchdowns. Coleman averaged a healthy 4.4 yards per carry to go along with eight touchdowns.
Together, the team finished second in the league with 415.8 yards per game. Defenses could not find an answer to combat the Falcons versatile attack. If a defense focused on Jones then the Falcons would just divert to Coleman or Freeman and vice versa. If the reigning NFC Champions do not suffer any regression the team’s chances of getting back to the Super Bowl look good.