The old saying is that defense wins championships. But one has to dig back to 2015 before finding an offense that fell outside the top 10 in EPA and won a Super Bowl. The truth is that having a top-10 unit on both sides of the ball is the key.
The Detroit Lions were the only NFL team to miss the playoffs with a top-10 offense in 2022. Meanwhile, five of the top-10 defenses missed the dance. Only one top-10 offense missed the playoffs in 2021 compared to three top-10 defenses.
Although the top offenses remain outstanding, after the regular season, only 13 teams currently had positive EPA results.
Who Has the Best Offense in the NFL?
The San Francisco 49ers have the best offense in the NFL. After holding the title for months, the Miami Dolphins have officially relinquished it. The San Francisco offense is simply too potent when all the pieces are present.
They rank high in EPA (first by a lot), success rate (first), dropback EPA (first by a lot), dropback success rate (first by A LOT), rushing EPA (first), and rushing success rate (first).
They field an entirely complete offense. Kyle Shanahan may not be a perfect head coach, but nobody consistently gets better quarterback play out of what he’s given than him.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to also have talents like Trent Williams (we must respect the big men making it happen), Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle.
Ranking the Remaining NFL Offenses
2) Dallas Cowboys
After a disappointing start (and finish) to the season, the Cowboys’ offense had gone through a renaissance period since their bye week. Dak Prescott has turned back the clock and is creating as a passer and runner with his legs for the first time since 2019. Few, if any, NFL QBs played at a higher level than Prescott this season.
But the biggest difference came on the schematic front after the bye week. They used pre-snap motion at a rate we hadn’t seen from them in the past, and since Week 7, only the 49ers have been able to match Dallas’ passing efficiency.
3) Baltimore Ravens
Stacking the top offenses is incredibly difficult. A Todd Monken-led Baltimore Ravens passing attack with Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely at tight end already sounds good. Monken knows how to feature the TE position. Even without Andrews, Monken has found a way to find TE production with Likely.
Baltimore also added Odell Beckham Jr. and Zay Flowers to the outside, which proved the Ravens were finally ready to shift their focus from a run-heavy unit to an evolved pass-first attack. And it’s worked, especially when Lamar Jackson works from within the pocket.
The Ravens have one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the NFL. Seeing them dominate their way through some of the best teams in the NFL down the stretch has propelled them to the top three.
4) Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills ranked second in the NFL in EPA and success rate last season. Josh Allen is almost impossible to defend, and Stefon Diggs is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, even if their connection hasn’t been as seamless in 2023.
While the Bills need Allen’s legs to maximize their potential, the young QB must realize if he wants to add “long” in front of “illustrious” at the end of his career, he must take fewer unnecessary hits. He has done a better job of that as the 2023 season has rolled on, but he took a huge shot in Week 17 that could linger into the playoffs.
Buffalo finished third in EPA and second in overall success rate. Despite that, Ken Dorsey didn’t survive as the Bills’ offensive coordinator.
Although Allen is undoubtedly a gunslinger prone to turning the ball over, his production far exceeds any negative outcomes from turnovers. His value to the offense is immense.
5) Miami Dolphins
Being fast alone is not enough to be good — ask the Las Vegas Raiders’ draft strategy at WR for years. But schematic excellence, speed, and technical prowess have all met in Miami with devastating results for opposing defenses.
It seemed nearly impossible to slow the offense down until the last quarter of the season because Tua Tagovailoa’s mental game had entered a new level. His anticipation is outrageous, and his accuracy in the short and intermediate areas of the field were sublime.
Miami finished fourth in EPA and fifth in success rate. Tyreek Hill is the single most unfair player in the NFL, and it may not be particularly close. However, when Hill gets nicked up, the Dolphins’ offense looks disjointed, especially as their offensive line struggles to manage injuries.
6) Philadelphia Eagles
They have the best offensive line in the NFL. A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and D’Andre Swift are a formidable group of skill-position talents. Meanwhile, Jalen Hurts has done absolutely nothing but get better every year since he first stepped foot in Tuscaloosa years ago.
But the Philadelphia offense hasn’t looked the same during their five losses over the past six games. The team seems to be falling apart since the loss to the 49ers, and Brown has appeared openly upset during the Eagles’ recent skid.
7) Green Bay Packers
After a strong start from Jordan Love and the Green Bay Packers offense, things unraveled quickly for this unit. Love threw three interceptions to a team in the Raiders that only produced seven interceptions in their previous 21 games, and the offense went through a nasty midseason lull.
But their offensive line is playing very well now, as is their young wide receiver corps. The biggest difference has been their young quarterback, who has played phenomenally in recent weeks. A game against the Chiefs in Week 13 gave Love a great test, and he passed it with flying colors on the Sunday Night Football stage.
He hasn’t slowed down much since. Green Bay’s offense got them back in the playoffs while finishing fifth in EPA and eighth in success rate.
8) Detroit Lions
The Detroit Lions’ offensive line is outstanding. They finished eighth in EPA and seventh in success rate.
David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs are a nice combination of consistency and explosiveness, and Detroit has enough weapons on the outside to move the ball consistently.
Jared Goff was playing some of his best ball in 2023, but he had struggled when OL injuries mounted. Sam LaPorta has exploded onto the scene over the middle in Ben Johnson’s offense, and Amon-Ra St. Brown continues to be one of the league’s premier pass catchers.
9) Los Angeles Rams
Puka Nacua turned an outstanding training camp and preseason into one of the best rookie campaigns ever. Matthew Stafford is back to being his normal self, meaning he’s making physics-bending plays left and right and performing as one of the best passers in the league.
But the Rams can also run the ball well, bringing balance to the force. They finished eighth in rushing EPA and sixth in rushing success rate.
Getting Cooper Kupp back should have taken this offense to the next level. Unfortunately, Stafford’s injury threw a wrench in that idea early, and Kupp’s ankle kept him from being himself.
10) Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs still field a good offensive product relative to the average NFL team, but their results have been underwhelming this season. They haven’t found a good rotation at wide receiver — rookie Rashee Rice appears to be the only one consistently showing up.
Patrick Mahomes will continue to do Mahomes things, and Travis Kelce will continue to play with … style. But even their on-field relationship hasn’t been as symbiotic.
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The Chiefs’ offense feels subdued, and that’s because it’s not living up to our heightened standards. But as the season wears on, their underachieving receiving corps is a legitimate detriment to the team’s offensive success.
11) Houston Texans
C.J. Stroud has played out of his skull in the 3+ months of his NFL career. It’s been an unbelievable journey, considering how he looked during his first preseason outing. That lost puppy dog has turned into an all-out attack dog in a matter of mere weeks.
It’s truly incredible to see the speed at which he is operating mentally. And he’s doing all of that behind a completely makeshift OL. He’ll hit some bumps in the road, but Houston has remained impressive, especially given our preseason expectations.
Stroud and the Texans’ win against Indianapolis got them into the playoffs, and the Jaguars’ loss made them a division winner. Stroud then faced a massive test in the Wild Card round against the best defense in the NFL — the Cleveland Browns — and passed with flying colors.
12) Seattle Seahawks
Seattle remained one of the most successful offenses on the list, but they’ve also not played up to the standard we set for them after a strong campaign in 2022. Jaxon Smith-Njigba is coming along slowly, and the offensive line has struggled with injuries.
Despite inconsistent play at times, they ranked 10th in EPA and success rate. However, there only 13 teams boasted positive EPA results on a per-play basis compared to the 19 teams that accomplished the same thing over the entirety of 2022.
Their performance against a tough Dallas defense was sublime, but they need Geno Smith to play practically perfectly for them to have any chance offensively, given their issues on the offensive line.
In the end, their defense led to their season’s demise.
13) Cincinnati Bengals
Things were incredibly ugly for Cincinnati over the season’s first few weeks, and their world came crumbling down when Joe Burrow injured his wrist.
Or did it? The Bengals’ offense did improve without Burrow, albeit in a very small sample. They kept things close to the line of scrimmage, but Jake Browning mostly survived — and at times thrived — in the traditional dropback game.
14) Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jacksonville Jaguars finished eighth a season ago in EPA, and they added a year of experience for their young quarterback along with a guy named Calvin Ridley. But they didn’t replicate the success they had a season ago.
Trevor Lawrence started playing some great football but injured his ankle and then his shoulder. Ridley was inconsistent for Jacksonville in 2023 but did come along more late in the season. Although Zay Jones may not set off alarm bells for opposing defenses, his ability to win in contested situations has been critical to Jacksonville’s offense.
However, their inability to find a consistent rushing attack has been the most concerning part of their offense, which stems from poor OL play.
15) Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay offensive line and Baker Mayfield have been better than many anticipated in 2023. Tristan Wirfs might be the best left tackle in the league, which is incredible, considering he’s barely played on the left side since high school.
Mayfield revitalized Mike Evans in 2023. He wasn’t an ideal fit with the previous quarterback, but he remained impressive enough to continue his 1,000-yard-season streak. Chris Godwin was always Tom Brady’s favorite, but Mayfield is a different QB, and he loves Evans’ size and athleticism.
Ultimately, they’re still an average offense, even when outperforming expectations. They couldn’t run the ball successfully if their life depended on it.
16) Cleveland Browns
A few explosive plays are all that the Browns’ offense needed. Joe Flacco and the play-action passing attack found a way to provide that. But the veteran QB made more than enough plays in the intermediate areas of the field and the quick game.
17) Minnesota Vikings
The addition of Jordan Addison complicated things for opposing defenses. Addison’s speed and ball-tracking ability come in handy frequently. The way he complements All-World talent Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson is perfect (before Hockenson tore his ACL), although he still went through some rookie growing pains.
Continuity on the offensive line is another positive for the Vikings. Christian Darrisaw has ascended into one of the better left tackles in football, and the rest of the unit took positive steps in 2022.
The Vikings’ offense, and team in general, could have been an NFC North contender if Kirk Cousins hadn’t torn his Achilles.
18) New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ offense looked doomed for complete mediocrity over the first 14 weeks of the season, but a few more impressive performances propelled them to 14th in offensive EPA to finish the year, but it was too little, too late.
After too much inconsistency and poor performances early in the year, they’ve found average production, but it wasn’t enough to sneak into the playoffs.
19) Indianapolis Colts
Shane Steichen is a wizard. No matter if it’s Anthony Richardson or Gardner Minshew, the Colts moved the ball in 2023.
It certainly wasn’t perfect. Minshew can’t bring out the explosiveness in the Colts offense the way that Richardson can, and he also turned the ball over too often.
But the offensive line played much better than a season ago, which was expected with Steichen’s arrival. Unfortunately, Minshew isn’t consistently able to bring out the best in the passing attack.
20) Chicago Bears
The Bears’ offense underwhelmed for most of the season, but getting the offensive line into the best spot it’s been in since Justin Fields got to Chicago made things look competent offensively for the first time in a long time.
The passing attack still isn’t particularly pretty at points, but Fields’ arm continues to come up big as a creator. Their quick passing game has improved, and Fields remains incredibly dangerous as a runner.
21) Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos offense isn’t anything to write home about, but they’re also probably better than we expected them to be coming into the season.
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After looking like the marriage between Russell Wilson and Sean Payton might succeed, it became increasingly clear that it would not. Payton continuously looked frustrated by the volatile nature of Wilson’s play.
22) Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers’ offense looks suspiciously competent with none other than Mason Rudolph under center. The most incredible part of all this is that the veteran backup has looked suspiciously impressive throughout Pittsburgh’s run of recent offensive success.
23) Washington Commanders
The Washington Commanders offense is a lot of fun, but it’s also wildly inconsistent. Their young quarterback is very obviously talented, and the weapons on the edge are fun. But Sam Howell hasn’t been able to propel the Commanders out of potential franchise QB range in the 2024 NFL Draft.
The Commanders’ offense isn’t bad. It’s just below average in nearly every metric. They have explosive potential in the passing attack, but they aren’t consistently successful because of the growing pains of their young QB and their underwhelming offensive line.
24) Tennessee Titans
The Titans tried to improve the left side of the offensive line with Andre Dillard and Peter Skoronski, but they whiffed hard on Dillard. An offensive line must work as a cohesive unit, and four of the five spots were unnervingly bad.
— TicTacTitans (@TicTacTitans) December 5, 2023
Ryan Tannehill went down with an ankle injury, forcing rookie QB Will Levis into action. His first start was a great success, but things went south afterward. Levis played well, but the Titans’ horrific offensive line made things troubling for the young passer.
Even Derrick Henry struggled in 2023, something we haven’t seen from him since the beginning of his illustrious career.
25) Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons have the talent. Kyle Pitts and Drake London are two large targets to hit crossing over the middle of the field, and Bijan Robinson stepped onto an NFL field for the first time as a top-five back in the league. He’s LaDainian Tomlinson reincarnated.
They even have a solid offensive line. But it’s all been let down by inconsistent QB play, whether it be from Taylor Heinicke or Desmond Ridder.
26) Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders’ offensive line has both overperformed and underperformed. They’ve been outstanding in pass protection but have struggled mightily to get the run game going.
Jimmy Garoppolo was somewhat efficient in the offense, just like he was in San Francisco, but he was also turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Aidan O’Connell was inserted as the starter and didn’t necessarily impress despite Las Vegas’ wins. It was their defensive renaissance that put them over the top.
27) Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals’ offensive staff did an outstanding job of maximizing their potential on the ground and in the air. Before moving him to Minnesota, they were using Joshua Dobbs’ legs intelligently, and he was playing the best football of his professional career.
Kyler Murray’s return was interesting, but he didn’t necessarily look like the franchise-altering No. 1 overall pick he was supposed to be. Time will be important here, though, because he’s only just returning from his knee injury.
28) New York Giants
The New York Giants do not have the worst offense in their stadium, let alone the NFL. But that’s nothing to boast about because they’re still among the worst in the league. The only things keeping them from the bottom are a combination of Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, Bailey Zappe, Easton Stick, and the Carolina Panthers.
Tommy DeVito took New Jersey by storm over his three-game winning streak. But he was benched shortly after in favor of Tyrod Taylor, making his Linsanity run incredibly brief.
29) Carolina Panthers
Bryce Young was bad as a rookie. While the same sort of flashes we saw at Alabama are still in there, he was completely overwhelmed by the speed of the NFL game. He also continued taking far too many unnecessary hits, something he needs to work on at the NFL level.
It certainly doesn’t help that his offense lacks speed and talent. Young’s best wide receiver was Adam Thielen, and it wasn’t particularly close. Things were so bad that David Tepper fired Franch Reich only 11 games into the season.
30) Los Angeles Chargers
After their Week 1 massacre of the Dolphins’ run defense, the Chargers plunged toward the bottom of the rankings in rushing EPA and success rate.
Keenan Allen turned back the clock and played like one of the five most productive wide receivers in the league this season. Unfortunately, the team couldn’t seem to come together to produce wins, and the losses of Mike Williams and Joshua Palmer crushed their offensive potential.
31) New England Patriots
After early signs that the Patriots’ offense might be right, those signs were burnt to the ground and trampled on. The Jets’, Cowboys’, and Saints’ defenses are all good, but an NFL team cannot score 13 points across three weeks.
Things were so bad that Mac Jones was benched, leaving Bailey Zappe to pick up the pieces of an offense with absolutely no explosive weapons. That didn’t go well, either. Although the offense was slightly better with Zappe, that’s not saying much.
Who Has the Worst Offense in the NFL?
The New York Jets have the worst offense in the NFL. Their offensive line was incredibly underwhelming and missed multiple key pieces. The loss of Aaron Rodgers thrust the worst starting QB in the NFL back into action in what was supposed to be a redshirt season, if not more.
The Jets competed, but it had very little to do with the offense. They have the worst EPA marks in the NFL, and that’s no surprise considering they’ve played Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, and Trevor Siemian at QB.
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