NFL

Ranking all 32 NFL offenses heading into the 2017 season

Julio Jones and Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons
Vincent Frank
Written by Vincent Frank

As the 2017 NFL regular season gets going here shortly, there’s been a ton of focus on individuals players. Which young quarterbacks have proven themselves ready to take that next step to elite status? How is the running back situation going to play out for some of the top team’s in the league?

That’s all fine and dandy. But it’s how these players come together as units that will define their success in 2017. Even after losing Julian Edelman to a season-ending injury, the Patriots seem to have one of the best offenses in the game. On the other hand, the division-rival New York Jets promise to throw out an absolute dumpster fire of an offense.

Here, we rank all 32 NFL offenses heading into the 2017 season.

32. New York Jets 

The Jets' quarterback situation is laughable.

This could potentially be the worst offense we’ve see thrown together in the NFL since Alex Smith’s rookie season with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s just downright atrocious. After moving on from Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker during the spring, New York lost returning No. 1 receiver Quincy Enunwa for the season to a neck injury. It has veteran journeyman Josh McCown under center with very little behind him on the depth chart.

On paper, the combination of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell seem to be decent at running back. Though, Forte continues to nurse an injury and is currently on the trade block. Meanwhile, Powell has never proven himself to be a three-down back. We’d be surprised if New York averaged north of 14 points per game in 2017. That’s how bad this offense is.

31. Chicago Bears

It sure looks like the Bears are going to go with veteran free agent signing Mike Glennon under center. If that’s the case, the team is in a world of trouble. Glennon was absolutely brutal during the preseason. So bad that it’s not an overreaction to say that the combination of Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley and Brian Hoyer might have been better last season. Ouch.

Sure Jordan Howard has a legit chance to become an All-Pro performer. He put up over 1,600 total yards in what was a Pro Bowl rookie campaign last season. But there’s nothing to speak of at receiver here. Former first-round pick Kevin White has played all of four games in two NFL seasons. Meanwhile, the team lost Alshon Jeffery to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency and Cameron Meredith to a season-ending injury. It’s definitely going to be slow going for the Bears’ offense in 2017.

30. Cleveland Browns

We like what rookie second-round pick DeShone Kizer has shown during the preseason. Tough inconsistent, Kizer offers much more upside than the combination of Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. It’s in this that Cleveland named the Notre Dame product its Week 1 starter. Even then, we can’t expect much from the project under center.

Cleveland does have a chance to put up a solid rushing attack with the combination of Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. That’s only magnified by the team’s elite-level offensive line. But with Josh Gordon still suspended, Kizer lacks any legitimate weapons out there. As of now, the starting receivers are Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman. The two combined for a 55 percent catch rate last season. That’s not going to get any better with the wide-eyed Kizer under center.

29. Denver Broncos

By default, Trevor Siemian earned the starting job over second-year player Paxton Lynch. It’s not as much about Siemian as it is about Lynch looking like one of John Elway’s first true draft busts (more on that here).

Without an adequate quarterback under center, most expect Denver to rely on its rushing attack. That’s until we realize injury-plagued veterans C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles are battling for the starting job with youngster Devontae Booker injured himself. Adding to the misery, Denver is slated to start rookie Garett Bolles at left tackle. That’s a whole bunch of meh in Mile High.

28. San Francisco 49ers

As to where the 49ers’ defense might surprise, their offense is going to be a complete mess in 2017. Brian Hoyer can act as a serviceable stopgap, but that’s not the issue here. At running back, San Francisco is left relying on an injury-plagued Carlos Hyde to team up with rookies Joe Williams and Matt Breida. That’s not exactly a top-end running back group there.

After handing Pierre Garçon $16 million to play this season, the 49ers’ revamped receiver group is an upgrade from last season. Even then, Marquise Goodwin as a No. 2 leaves a lot to be desired. After that, there’s a lot of unproven talent here. The only saving grace is an offensive line that includes Pro Bowler Joe Staley at left tackle and a rising star in Trent Brown at right tackle. Outside of that, this unit is going to be a complete mess in 2017.

27. Los Angeles Rams

Adding Sammy Watkins in the mix should help second-year quarterback Jared Goff in a big way. He teams up with former Bills teammate Robert Woods and impressive rookie Cooper Kupp to form a much-improved wide receiver group in Los Angeles. Adding veteran tackle Andrew Whitworth to the mix also helps Goff.

But let’s make no mistake about it. The Rams’ success on offense will rely a great deal on how Goff progresses following an absolutely dreadful rookie season. Sure he’s looked better in the preseason, but that might not be indicative of what we’re going to see in Week 1. Should Goff falter again, it will force Todd Gurley to go up against stacked boxes once again. We saw how that turned out last season.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars

Let’s be clear here. Blake Bortles did not winning the starting job. He’s the starter by default. A career backup, we already know what Chad Henne is. At best, he can act as a game manager for an offense that needs more than that at quarterback. It’s a no-win situation for the Jags, as Bortles can’t even manage a game due to his turnover proneness.

After spending the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft on Leonard Fournette, the leg injuries that hindered him at LSU have come up again. He’s been limited during the summer, which should definitely be cause for alarm. Star receiver Allen Robinson seems to be frustrated. Fellow former 1,000-yard pass catcher Allen Hurns could be on the trade block. In reality, this unit now seems to be a complete and utter mess.

25. Minnesota Vikings

We’re just not buying Sam Bradford as a quarterback that can lead a potent offensive attack. Some will point to his NFL-best 71.6 completion percentage last season, but that would be foolish. Bradford averaged just 7.0 yards per attempt and less than 10 yards per completion. Sadly, a lot of that came in the form of yards after the catch. He just doesn’t have the ability to stretch the field.

We do like Dalvin Cook and think he will put up a Pro Bowl-caliber performance as a rookie. The issue here is that Bradford will be tossing the rock behind a makeshift offensive line that includes new acquisitions Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers. It’s an upgrade from the Matt Kalil era, but this unit is still one of the five-worst in the NFL. Short of Stefon Diggs and Laquon Treadwell breaking out big time here, we’re not expecting a lot from Minnesota’s offense in 2017.

24. Houston Texans

Tom Savage might not provide the same upside as Deshaun Watson. That much is known. It’s also why Houston exhausted a first-round pick in next year’s draft to move up for the rookie. But Savage has quietly impressed during the summer and should be a solid game manager in 2017.

Unfortunately, Houston doesn’t have an elite running game that can mask a game manager in an NFL that’s quarterback driven. Lamar Miller did put up 1,000-plus yards in his first season with the Texans. But 43 percent of this yards came in four games. Consistency was an issue there. Add in the holdout of left tackle Duane Brown and injury to receiver Will Fuller, and there’s more issues than fixes on the Texans’ offense. Thankfully, they boast the best defense in the NFL.

23. Buffalo Bills

Tyrod Taylor

Where to start? After a drama-filled offseason, Tyrod Taylor has been absolutely brutal during the summer. It’s so bad that some are calling for the team to start rookie Nathan Peterman at quarterback. Buffalo also traded No. 1 receiver Sammy Watkins, replacing him with a under-performing youngster in Jordan Matthews.

As of right now, the Bills will be trotting out Matthews and rookie Zay Jones at receiver. With a questionable quarterback situation and a running back in LeSean McCoy that might be on the trade block, this unit has disaster written all over it in 2017.

22. Philadelphia Eagles

We really like what Philadelphia did by bringing in Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith to catch passes from youngster Carson Wentz. While the second-year quarterback did struggle after initial success as a rookie, the likes of Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor did not help him out. Add in the fact that Agholor is seemingly improved, and this could be a solid receiver group in Philly.

The issues here are two fold. First off, the Eagles don’t have a running back situation that inspires confidence. Free agent signing LeGarrette Blount has struggled this summer and could be on the chopping block. Meanwhile, neither Wendell Smallwood nor Darren Sproles can be considered three-down backs. If the Eagles struggle on the ground, it will cause major issues for their young quarterback.

21. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore received some good news on the back injury Joe Flacco suffered this summer. Despite missing the entire exhibition slate, he will be good to go for the regular season. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for second-year back Kenneth Dixon, who is lost for the season. Both Danny Woodhead and Breshad Perriman have also been dealing with injuries.

Welcome to football in Baltimore, where injuries are the name of the game. Even 100 percent healthy, this isn’t a unit to write home about. Flacco is averaging 17 touchdowns and 13.5 interceptions over the past two seasons. Baltimore didn’t have a running back go for over 800 yards last season. Meanwhile, both Dennis Pitta and Steve Smith retired. Sure Jeremy Maclin will help, but this is going to be a pedestrian unit in 2017.

20. New York Giants

In an interesting turn, it was the Giants’ defense that led the team to a surprise 11-5 record and a spot in the playoffs last season. And while their offense promises to be improved, there’s still a lot of question marks here.

New York ranked 26th in scoring and 25th in total offense last season. This was primarily due to a rushing attack that ranked 29th in yards, 30th in yards per attempt and dead last in rushing touchdowns. The team really didn’t improve in this category, with second-year back Paul Perkins likely to take a bulk of the attempts in 2017.

We do like what the Giants did in bringing in veteran receiver Brandon Marshall. The selection off promising tight end Evan Engram will also help this season. But none of that is going to fix an absolutely disastrous rushing attack. And it could lead to a mistake-prone Eli Manning under center.

19. Washington Redskins

Caption: Jan 1, 2017; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) is sacked by New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (41) in the second quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We’re definitely not liking what’s going on with the running game in D.C. Starter Rob Kelley struggled to the tune of 3.1 yards per rush during the preseason. Meanwhile, former starter Matt Jones was downright atrocious. Unless the Skins decide to go with rookie Samaje Perine, there isn’t much confidence they can have in the other two backs. That’s a pretty big deal with Kirk Cousins looking to build off two strong seasons.

Washington also has to be somewhat concerned at receiver. Sure free agent acquisition Terrelle Pryor has looked great, but the team did lose former Pro Bowlers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency. Who will act as a solid No. 2 behind Pryor? With a strong offensive line anchored by left tackle Trent Williams, these issues might be mitigated, but it won’t enable Washington’s offense from being anything more than mid-tier unit.

18. Detroit Lions

If Matthew Stafford is going to earn his keep as the NFL’s highest-paid player, he’s going to have to lead an improved Lions offense in 2017. This unit ranked 21st in total yards and 20th in points scored last season. That’s simply not going to get it done.

The good news here is that Detroit upgraded big time along the offensive line, adding guard T.J. Lang and tackle Ricky Wagner to the mix. They should help lead an improved running game with Ameer Abdullah tasked with handling three-down duties. With Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron catching passes from Stafford, this should be a slightly improved offense from a season ago.

17. Miami Dolphins

Nothing really changes here with Jay Cutler taking over for the injured Ryan Tannehill. Sure the latter represents higher upside, but Cutler has more of a down-field ability. That should help DeVante Parker make a strong impact, as evidenced by this catch during the preseason.

For the Dolphins, it’s going to be all about balance. We already know Parker, Jarvis Landry and Kenny Stills form a tremendous receiving trio, but consistency was an issue on the ground last season. Jay Ajayi put up 1,272 yards and a robust 4.9 yards per carry. He also tallied nearly half those yards in just three games. Again, consistency.

16. Cincinnati Bengals

It’s really all about Andy Dalton under center. The quarterback has everything he needs to lead a top-10 offense, but the consistency just hasn’t been there from the former Pro Bowler. Last season saw Dalton throw a career-low 18 touchdowns en route to leading a 24th-ranked scoring attack. All said, Cincinnati ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in red zone efficiency.

By adding rookie Joe Mixon and John Ross to the mix, Cincinnati has definitely built up the talent level around A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert. So there’s a chance this unit improves a great deal in 2017. But that’s going to be up to Dalton.

15. Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck

This all depends on the health of one Andrew Luck. Should he play a full 16-game season, Indy could boast a top-10 unit. If it’s Scott Tolzien under center over the long term, this might be one of the worst offenses in the NFL. Such is the nature of the beast in a league that’s reliant on quarterbacks more so than at any previous point in its history.

Luck has in the past found a solid connection with both wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and tight end Jack Doyle. Add in the presence of the ageless Frank Gore, and this could be a decent unit in 2017. It’s all about Luck recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and proving himself to be 100 percent. As of right now, that doesn’t look good.

14. Arizona Cardinals

Let’s be clear here. David Johnson is one of the five-most dynamic players in the entire NFL. As just a sophomore last season, he led NFL running backs with 2,118 total yards and 20 touchdowns. That’s just flat out absurd. It’s also pretty absurd that Larry Fitzgerald, now 33 years old, has put up 216 receptions over the past two seasons.

Though, there are some widespread issues on offense in the desert. Can Carson Palmer stay upright behind what has to be considered one of the five-worst offensive lines in the NFL? Who will step up behind Fitzgerald at receiver? John Brown continues to deal with injuries, and head coach Bruce Arians called out this group in a big way during the summer. All this will prevent the Cardinals’ offense from ranking among the top in the game.

13. Carolina Panthers

Carolina finally went out there and got weapons for Cam Newton. The team selected former Stanford standout Christian McCaffrey in the first round of April’s draft. The running back is a major dual threat and should pay immediate dividends.

Meanwhile, the Panthers also added former Ohio State receiver Curtis Samuel to team up with Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess at wide receiver. That’s a nice little group right there. Add in Pro Bowler Greg Olsen at tight end, and Cam has a ton of weapons.

The issue here is Carolina still refused to build up a strong offensive line for a quarterback that is coming off off-season shoulder surgery. Paying Matt Kalil big bucks at left tackle is absurd given just how poorly he’s played recently. This will be the Panthers’ downfall in 2017. Let’s just hope it doesn’t lead to another serious injury for the former NFL MVP.

12. Los Angeles Chargers

Philip Rivers will need to cut down on his interceptions if the Chargers’ offense hopes to finish in the top 10 this season. He’s led the NFL in picks two of the past three season, throwing 52 interceptions during that span. Surely a lot of that has to do with Rivers being asked to do too much, but it’s still a problem.

The positive news here is that Rivers has a ton of weapons to play with Third-year running back Melvin Gordon had a breakout sophomore campaign, putting up 1,416 total yards and 12 touchdowns before suffering a late-season injury. Keenan Allen is back at 100 percent after missing all but one game last season. Behind him on the depth chart, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman and Tyrell Williams combined for over 2,500 receiving yards last season. There’s so much talent here to rank the Chargers any lower.

11. Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson remains an MVP-caliber quarterback. If nothing else, the preseason proved that he was going to remain at this level for some time. The issue in Seattle is that he’s working behind the worst offensive line in football. It also didn’t help that starting left tackle George Fant was lost for the season to injury this summer.

We’re really hoping Wilson can avoid that dreaded serious injury behind this massive joke of an offensive line. If he can, the Seahawks’ offense will be in good shape. Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise form a solid trio at running back. Doug Baldwin is among the most-consistent receivers in the NFL, having posted a 75 percent catch rate the past two seasons. Heck, even Jimmy Graham stepped up big time last season after struggling in his first year in Seattle. There’s talent here. A lot of it.

10. Kansas City Chiefs

People want to talk about Alex Smith’s limitations and conclude he’s simply not a good quarterback. That’s absolutely ridiculous. The former No. 1 pick has thrown 76 touchdowns compared to 28 interceptions in four seasons as the Chiefs’ starter. He’s also led a 41-20 mark during that span.

The loss of starting running back Spencer Ware for the season will hurt here, but rookie third-round pick Kareem Hunt has stepped up big time at running back. Tyreek Hill remains one of the most-explosive playmakers in the game after jumping on to the scene as a rookie last season. Meanwhile, Travis Kelce is right up there with Greg Olsen as the best receiving tight end in the game behind Rob Gronkowski. Look for big things from this unit in 2017.

9. Tennessee Titans

We can talk about Marcus Mariota until we’re blue in the face. And for good reason. He’s on the cusp of becoming an elite-level quarterback. But the former Heisman winner surely has a great supporting cast. DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry combined for 2,281 total yards and 17 touchdowns last season. That’s a solid duo.

At wide receiver, Rishard Matthews stepped up to the tune of 945 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He’ll now be joined by veteran Eric Decker and rookie top-five pick Corey Davis to form a tremendous trio. This doesn’t even take into account one of the most-underrated players in the game, tight end Delanie Walker. Look for Mariota and Co. to take that next step in 2017.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs got talented young quarterback Jameis Winston some shiny new weapons during the offseason. It started with the signing of Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson to act as a deep threat opposite ultra possession receiver Mike Evans. That’s going to be a dynamic duo for Winston. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay then went out there and selected former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard in the first round of April’s draft. Nicely done.

As with other teams on this list, Tampa Bay’s ability to throw out an elite offense will rely on getting more consistency at quarterback. While Winston’s overall numbers as a sophomore last season were solid, he was about as inconsistent as they come. In Tampa Bay’s nine wins last season, he threw 15 touchdowns and six picks. In the team’s seven losses, Winston put up a 13-to-12 split. That needs to change in 2017.

7. Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott Ezekiel Elliott Jason Garrett Dallas Cowboys

Dallas would likely be in the top three if it weren’t for the six-game suspension looming over the head of Ezekiel Elliott. After all, there’s an argument he was the NFL MVP as a rookie last season. Putting up 1,994 total yards and 16 touchdowns will force your way into that conversation.

Despite this, what Dak Prescott did as a rookie might have been even more impressive. The young signal caller tallied 29 total touchdowns and just four interceptions. That’s just wow. It sure helps that he has the NFL’s best offensive line working in front of him and future Hall of Famers in Jason Witten and Dez Bryant to toss the rock to. Heck, Cole Beasley caught an absurd 77 percent of the passes thrown in his direction last season. Even if Elliott were to lose his appeal, this is still going to be a dominant group in 2017.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

An argument could be made that Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown represent the best one-two tandem in the entire NFL. Bell recorded an absurd 1,884 yards in just 12 games last season. To put that into perspective, he averaged 157 total yards per game. That’s just beyond belief. At receiver, Brown put up 100-plus catches for the fourth consecutive year. He’s also averaging north of 1,500 receiving yards per season during that span.

Now that Pittsburgh has Martavis Bryant back from suspension and Eli Rogers performing at a high level, Ben Roethlisberger has so many darn tools to play with. If this thing ever comes together, the Steelers could finish as the NFL’s top offense.

5. New Orleans Saints

As long as Drew Brees is tossing the rock around the Bayou, this will remain a top-five unit. Brees has redefined the stat book in the NFL, having thrown for 5,000-plus yards five times in his career. And while the team did trade malcontent Brandin Cooks, second-year receiver Michael Thomas is more than ready to step up. The former second-round pick recorded 92 receptions for 1,137 yards on a ridiculous 76 percent catch rate as a rookie last season.

New Orleans even went as far as to bring on future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson, who will team up with Pro Bowler Mark Ingram to help create some balance on offense. And with an elite left tackle in Terron Armstead, the Saints have a solid offensive line. Look for more domination from this unit in 2017.

4. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is one of the best to ever suit up. Here’s a dude that’s thrown 297 touchdowns compared to 72 interceptions in his career. Last season alone, the future Hall of Famer completed nearly 66 percent of his passes with 40 touchdowns and just seven picks. He did this despite an underwhelming receiving group that included the inconsistent Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.

Green Bay’s biggest issue on offense is at running back. Ty Montgomery made the transition from wide receiver, averaging a splendid 5.9 yards per rush. Can he prove to be a full-time back? On the same note, Green Bay did lose Pro Bowl guard T.J. Lang to free agency. Who steps up here? Outside of those two questions, the Packers’ offense should be dominant again in 2017.

3. Oakland Raiders

Courtesy of Jake Roth, USA Today Sports

Oakland didn’t make Derek Carr the highest-paid player in NFL history because it’s in the game of throwing money away. What Carr has done in his first three NFL seasons is nothing short of amazing. We’re talking about a quarterback that’s thrown for 11,194 yards and 81 touchdowns with just 31 picks during that span.

Carr returns two 1,000-yard receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. His Raiders also added tight end Jared Cook and a dynamic Cordarrelle Patterson to the passing game. Not to be outdone, the young duo of Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington (1,267 total combined yards last season) will now team up with Marshawn Lynch to form an elite running back group. Add in the best offensive line in the AFC, and this offense will be dominating once again in 2017.

2. New England Patriots

We had New England No. 1 here before top receiver Julian Edelman went down with a torn ACL in the team’s third preseason game. While the Pats do have talent to overcome the injury, it does hurt rather big time.

Even then, New England returns the greatest quarterback to ever play in Tom Brady, who put up an absurd 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions last season. He also has a new toy to play with in that of former Saints 1,000-yard receiver Brandin Cooks. With Chris Hogan coming up big time to lead the NFL in yards per catch last season, receiver is still a strength here.

Though, it’s what the Pats have at running back and tight end that makes this unit elite. Rob Gronkowski is 100 percent after dealing with an injury-plagued 2016 campaign. New England also added underrated veterans Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee to team up with holdovers Dion Lewis and James White. This unit is absolutely stacked once again in 2017.

1. Atlanta Falcons

It’s going to be interesting to see how Atlanta’s offensive performs under new coordinator Steve Sarkisian after Kyle Shanahan bolted for Northern California. But let’s be real here for a second. Shanahan was not the primary reason Atlanta finished No. 2 in total offense and No. 1 in scoring. Instead, the credit goes to reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan. He dominated to the tune of 4,944 yards with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions last season.

It also doesn’t hurt that the Falcons have elite-level talent across the board on offense. The recently extended Devonta Freeman paired up with youngster Tevin Coleman to gain nearly 2,500 total yards from the running back position last season. Meanwhile, Julio Jones put up his third consecutive 1,400-plus yard season. Add in Taylor Gabriel’s deep threat, and this offense promises to be the best in the NFL once again in 2017.

About the author

Vincent Frank

Vincent Frank

Editor-at-large, Sportsnaut.

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life?” Rumi