5 NFL offenses that could surprise this season

© Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press

While defenses might win championships, NFL teams need a good offense to help them reach the Super Bowl. Everyone loves the league’s most explosive offensive units, but a few other teams could surprise this season with some great offensive output.

In an era highlighted by the passing attack, quarterback play is the driving force for great attacks. When we look at some of the offenses that didn’t perform well during the 2019 season, several of them were brought down by quarterback play. All of that can change this year.

Weaponry also plays a huge role in deciding how successful an offense can be. If the team’s quarterback can stay on the field and make smart decisions, the talent around him can thrive. That’s what we see unfolding this season with these five NFL offenses that could surprise.

Los Angeles Chargers

There are plenty of fond memories with Rivers for this organization and fan base to remember. However, the veteran quarterback was also responsible for plenty of this unit’s struggles on offense in 2019. The Chargers ranked 10th in yards per game (367.4) and eighth in yards per play (5.9), according to Pro Football Reference. Unfortunately, this team turned the ball over far too much and couldn’t score consistently.

Tyrod Taylor might not make all the plays Rivers can, but he won’t commit the same amount of turnovers. This offense will be better in 2020 with Austin Ekeler, one of the NFL’s best all-purpose backs who is capable of eclipsing 1,800 scrimmage yards. Taylor will love throwing to Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry, too. An efficient running game paired with a loaded offense and an improved offensive line, this will be a good group with Taylor or even Justin Herbert.

Detroit Lions

Everything changed for the Detroit Lions after Matthew Stafford went down with the season-ending back injury. While this club might have missed out on the playoffs if he stayed healthy, the star quarterback had this offense rolling. Consider that in eight starts, Stafford’s stats were off the charts with a 19-5 TD-INT ratio, 2,499 passing yards and a 106 quarterback rating. Now that he’s fully recovered, we’re expecting more greatness.

There is no doubt that the 32-year-old can still play at an incredible level. The chemistry between Stafford and Kenny Golladay is incredible, leading to another 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown campaign. Marvin Jones also remains criminally underrated and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he eclipsed 1,000 yards this year. Detroit’s rushing attack should also improve this season with the two-headed attack of D’Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson. All of the pieces are in place for the Lions’ offense to potentially become one of the NFL’s best in 2020.

Cincinnati Bengals

It came as no surprise that an offense with an atrocious offensive line, poor quarterback play and no A.J. Green was a train wreck in 2019. Cincinnati’s unit ranked 30th in points per game (17.4) and 28th in yards per play (4.9), a testament to how atrocious this group was. We’re expecting significant changes this year with an offense that should operate very differently.

Naturally, it all starts with Joe Burrow. The No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft will prove why he was the no-doubt selection. He will uplift this group in a way that Andy Dalton couldn’t, unlocking a group of skill players that don’t receive enough recognition. The offensive line will be improved with Jonah Williams finally returning and Xavier Su’a-Filo stepping in at right guard. While defenses focus on trying to stop Burrow from throwing dimes to A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd and John Ross, running back Joe Mixon will thrive and could finish as one of the NFL’s top rushers.

Carolina Panthers

There are plenty of people sleeping on the Panthers this season. In fact, many think this team might be one of the early favorites to land the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. As fun as the thought of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields in this offense is, this club will probably be too good to land either quarterback.

Everyone knows Christian McCaffrey is a beast. He is a threat to take it the distance any time he steps on the field and no one should be surprised if he eclipses 2,000 scrimmage yards for the second consecutive season. But he isn’t the only reason we like this offense. The receiving corps trio of DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and Robby Anderson could be outstanding in Joe Brady’s offense, making 40-plus yard plays look routine. It’s the kind of weaponry that Teddy Bridgwater can take advantage of. Given he completed 69.7% of his passes with a 103.7 quarterback rating as a starter in 2019, this could be a very good offense.

Buffalo Bills

Few NFL players are under the degree of pressure Josh Allen will face this season. Buffalo boasts an elite defense and head coach Sean McDermott is quickly becoming a great. Plus, the Bills went out and acquired star receiver Stefon Diggs to help solidify this offense. Now, the pressure is on Allen to take advantage.

The physical tools are evident with Allen. He carries one of the strongest arms in the league and is a force on the ground. He has racked up 1,141 rushing yards and 17 scores on the ground in his first two seasons and it is part of what makes him dangerous. The pairing of Diggs and John Brown is exceptional, while tight end Dawson Knox is developing into a weapon. If Allen can complete even 60% of his passes this year, this will be a great offense. From there, the Bills can become a Super Bowl contender.