Are Peyton Manning and his new target Wes Welker enough to rank the Denver Broncos as the best offense in the NFL?
One thing that is certain for the 2013 NFL season is that the offenses will be explosive.
We've seen a recent spike in offensive production over the past few years, and this year should be no different. From breakout candidates like running back C.J. Spiller and quarterback Ryan Tannehill to experienced veterans getting more weapons, this season should be quite fun for fans of high-scoring games.
The following slides are my power rankings for every NFL offense as we head into the 2013 season. The rankings are based more on where teams are right now, and less on potential they may have if their younger players perform above expectations.
We'll start with a rather familiar face at the bottom of rankings...
Key Players: RB Darren McFadden, FB Marcel Reece
The Oakland Raiders appearing last in our offensive rankings shouldn't come as a surprise to many.
The only real superstar on this team is McFadden, who has struggled with his health throughout his career. If he can stay healthy—and right now that is a gigantic if—he could potentially bump this offense up a few spots.
With a new quarterback in either Matt Flynn, Terrelle Pryor or rookie Tyler Wilson at the helm, it could be ugly this year offensively for the Raiders.
Key Players: RB Chris Ivory
Let's just get this out of the way right now: Neither Mark Sanchez nor Geno Smith is a key player for the New York Jets. Smith is only a rookie, and Sanchez is....well, Sanchez.
The receiving corps is also a complete mess in New York. Santonio Holmes can't stay healthy, Stephen Hill is still recovering from a knee injury, and Braylon Edwards is the team's top receiving option.
The only positive part of this offense is that we'll finally be able to see what Ivory can do as an every-down back. Other that that, it'll be hard to watch the Jets play offense this year.
Key Players: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, WR Cecil Shorts
You might be surprised to see Shorts on here instead of receiving counterpart Justin Blackmon, but Shorts is in for a breakout year. Other than Shorts, the Jacksonville Jaguars only have Maurice Jones-Drew as an offensive weapon.
Granted, Jones-Drew is a potent weapon when he's healthy, which he should finally be for the start of the season. As John Oehser of Jaguars.com reported last week, Jones-Drew has been cleared for practice, and the team is excited about how he's progressed medically.
The big problem with Jacksonville starts at the quarterback position. With neither Blaine Gabbert nor Chad Henne looking like a franchise quarterback, the Jaguars will likely have their struggles again offensively.
One player to keep an eye on is rookie "offensive weapon" Denard Robinson. If he can add some big plays to this offense, he could bump them up a few spots by the end of the season.
Key Players: QB Carson Palmer, WR Larry Fitzgerald
I know that the Arizona Cardinals have a new quarterback in Palmer, but that isn't enough to push them much higher in the offensive rankings. This is a team that was graded as the worst offensive team by a long shot, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
While they've made some moves to improve offensively, such as drafting offensive guards Jonathan Cooper and Earl Watford, this is still a team far away from being great. For starters, the Cardinals will be relying on the injured legs of Rashard Mendenhall and Ryan Williams or rookies Stepfan Taylor and Andre Ellington to carry the load in the backfield.
Unless one of those running backs makes huge leaps in training camp, Arizona will likely struggle on the ground. That, combined with Palmer likely having struggles in his first year with the team, will make vast improvement a challenge for the Cardinals offense.
Key Players: RB Trent Richardson, WR Josh Gordon
The Cleveland Browns have the potential to vastly improve their offense this year.
They have some great young pieces apart from Richardson and Gordon who need to play well for that to happen. If quarterback Brandon Weeden, receiver Greg Little and tight end Jordan Cameron can progress, this team could be fun to watch.
With Richardson hopefully staying healthy and Gordon continuing to develop, the Browns already have two of the best young players at their respective positions. We also can't forget that Cleveland has one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Overall, this offense is overflowing with potential. If the players can all reach it this year, we could see more wins in Cleveland than we've seen in recent seasons.
Key Players: RB C.J. Spiller, WR Stevie Johnson
Much like some of the other teams that are low in these rankings, the Buffalo Bills have a big question mark at the quarterback position. In fact, the only reason that they rank this high is because of Spiller's potential.
He proved to be one of the most explosive running backs in the league last year. With an increased workload this year, he should either lead the league or be close to leading it in yards from scrimmage. That's how much potential he has.
However, the Bills could struggle due to the play of either Kevin Kolb or EJ Manuel. Whoever ends up winning the starting job will likely be the weak link of the offense.
While Spiller will make Buffalo enjoyable to watch offensively, the team will definitely struggle at times due to poor quarterback play.
Key Players: QB Philip Rivers, WR Danario Alexander, TE Antonio Gates
It was difficult to decide where to put the San Diego Chargers. Rivers has proved to be close to an elite quarterback in the past, and Gates was the best tight end in the league only a few years ago.
However, the Chargers really struggled last year as they finished with the fourth-worst offense in the league, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). They did make some improvements by drafting rookie tackle D.J. Fluker and receiver Keenan Allen, but we still don't know how big of an impact those players will have in their first year.
We also can't forget about injury-prone running back Ryan Mathews. He's yet to live up to his potential due to injuries, so expectations for him have to be low this year.
It's possible that Rivers and Gates will get back to being dominant players, while Mathews reaches his potential. However, until that happens, the Chargers will remain low in these offensive rankings.
Key Players: RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt, TE Delanie Walker
The Tennessee Titans are another team that could improve as the season progresses. The reason for this is the improvements they made with the offensive line.
By getting guards Chance Warmack and Andy Levitre, the Titans have brought back a physicality that they've lacked on their offensive lines in recent seasons. The biggest beneficiary of this will be Johnson, who should see plenty of holes open up in his favor.
Much of the overall success of this offense will hang on quarterback Jake Locker and his continued development. If Locker can get his accuracy issues under control, the Titans could field a balanced and potent offense. Adding a receiving weapon like Walker should help in that area.
Key Players: QB Alex Smith, RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe
Few teams went through as much change offensively as the Kansas City Chiefs. From a new quarterback in Alex Smith to new head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs offense should be different from the unit we saw in 2012.
However, the talent could fail to mesh by the beginning of the season. In fact, the only player worth betting on to produce consistently this year is Charles. He should see more touches in both the ground game and passing game in Reid's offense, which should be a cause for concern for opposing defenses.
Chiefs fans have every reason to be excited about the 2013 season and the future, but until all the new pieces prove to be cohesive, Kansas City will rank lower than many might expect in terms of overall offense.
Key Players: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, TE Heath Miller
Any offense that has a player as mentally tough at quarterback as Roethlisberger is going to be just fine.
With that said, there hasn't been a season in recent memory with so many questions surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers offense. Sure, Le'Veon Bell looks like an ideal fit at running back, but do we really know he'll be dominant from day one?
Losing wide receiver Mike Wallace and running back Rashard Mendenhall will hurt, but the biggest question is the offensive line. There are a handful of new faces protecting Roethlisberger, and while linemen like Mike Adams, David DeCastro and Marcus Gilbert have a ton of potential, they'll need to prove they can play solid football as a unit first.
Until we see the offensive line get back to dominating defenses, the Steelers could continue to struggle on offense.
Key Players: QB Ryan Tannehill, RB Lamar Miller, WR Mike Wallace
Another team with a ton of potential offensively is the Miami Dolphins.
Tannehill is a legitimate candidate to be a breakout star in his second year in the league, as is Miller. Also, the addition of Wallace as a deep-threat receiver will be a huge boost for this offense.
The only real question surrounding the Dolphins is at left tackle. Second-year tackle Jonathan Martin is pegged as the starter right now, but he had numerous struggles during his rookie season on the right side of the offensive line. He is going to need to improve to keep Tannehill upright throughout the season.
Watching the trio of Tannehill, Miller and Wallace make big play after big play should be enjoyable this year.
Key Players: QB Cam Newton, RB Jonathan Stewart, WR Steve Smith, TE Greg Olsen
If the Carolina Panthers could figure out how to surround Newton with more weapons, they could have one of the best offenses in the league. That's how dangerous Newton is.
Not only can he consistently beat you with his arm, but his ability with his legs in the open field is also amazing. There isn't a way to completely shut him down, unless he does it to himself by making poor decisions.
In the backfield, the Panthers will finally give Stewart the chance to be the featured back. He'll need to get healthy first, but once he does, he'll add a dynamic option to this offense.
Don't be surprised if the Panthers have little difficultly keeping up with the other high-powered offenses in the NFC South this year.
Key Players: QB Sam Bradford, WR Tavon Austin, TE Jared Cook
No team invested in offensive weapons like the St. Louis Rams did this offseason.
First, they signed a high-ceiling player in Cook. Then they drafted wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Austin and running back Zac Stacy. All in all, this offseason was designed to surround the quarterback with as many playmakers as possible.
Now they need Bradford to play like the player whom everyone thinks he can become. Once he does that, this offense could explode. Of course, he first needs to play up to that level, which is why the Rams rank so low as of right now.
The pieces are there for this team to finish with a top-10 offense this year, and even if they don't, it'll be exciting to watch all the new playmakers in St. Louis.
Key Players: RB Doug Martin, WR Vincent Jackson, WR Mike Williams
Last year, we saw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rely on Martin, and we will likely see the same thing this year.
Martin proved as a rookie that he's more than capable of carrying the load offensively. He's a dangerous weapon on the ground and also has good hands to be a threat in the passing game.
Outside of Martin, the Buccaneers hope that quarterback Josh Freeman can get back to his dominant ways. He's thrown 39 interceptions over the past two seasons, which is nearly seven times as many as he threw in 2010.
He has two great receivers in Jackson and Williams, but he needs to cut down on his mistakes. If he can do that, Tampa Bay could surprise some people offensively.
Key Players: RB LeSean McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, TE Brent Celek
I know, I know, Chip Kelly is the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. While you might think this means they'll score 70 points a game, let's step on the brakes a little bit.
For starters, no one knows how Kelly's offense will transition from college football to the NFL. There are also the problems that come with not having a quarterback established atop the depth chart and the season-ending injury to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin.
One thing that we can all agree on is that it's going to be exciting to watch speedsters like Jackson and McCoy get the ball in their hands this year. However, just how dominant this team will be offensively is still a huge question, and we won't have an answer until Week 1 rolls around.
Key Players: QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green, TE Jermaine Gresham, TE Tyler Eifert
There is so much to like about what the Cincinnati Bengals can do offensively. Green is already one of the best receivers in the league, and the tight end combo of Gresham and Eifert should be fun to watch.
The problems with the Bengals are Dalton's arm and the ground game. Dalton has yet to prove he can be effective with the deep pass and more than a game manager.
As for the ground game, rookie Giovani Bernard has potential but could struggle or not see enough carries because of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. It's safe to say that running back isn't the strongest position on the roster.
While Cincinnati should find itself in playoff contention this year, we might not see too much progress offensively for another year or two.
Key Players: RB Adrian Peterson, WR Greg Jennings, WR Cordarrelle Patterson
Without Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings would likely have the worst offense in the league.
Thankfully for them, and unfortunately for the rest of the league, the Vikings will once again have the superhuman on the field. The big question in Minnesota is what Peterson has planned as an encore to his historic 2012 season.
The only reason the Vikings don't rank higher than middle of the pack on offense is because of quarterback Christian Ponder. He's yet to make the strides he needs to as the leader of this offense.
Ponder could struggle again this year. Of course, it likely won't matter as long as Peterson is on the field, but until the Vikings get better play at the quarterback position, they won't rank any higher than this.
Key Players: QB Robert Griffin III, RB Alfred Morris, WR Pierre Garcon, TE Fred Davis
The only thing anyone wants to know about the Washington Redskins is how Griffin's recovery is going.
Other than Griffin, the Redskins have other exciting players in Morris, Garcon and Davis. This offense is built for the future and should be fun to watch for years to come.
Key Players: QB Russell Wilson, RB Marshawn Lynch
Had the Seattle Seahawks not lost wide receiver Percy Harvin for the majority of the 2013 season, they would have ranked much higher on this list.
However, as Harvin stated on Twitter, he needs surgery that will likely keep him out for three-to-four months.
The good news is that Seattle didn't have Harvin last year and still had one of the better offenses in the league. Wilson should be improved in his second year, and Lynch is still the beast that he's been in recent seasons.
Losing Harvin hurts, but there is plenty of hope for the Seahawks to be above average on offense in 2013.
Key Players: QB Eli Manning, WR Hakeem Nicks, WR Victor Cruz, TE Brandon Myers
No team is as difficult to peg offensively as the New York Giants. This is likely due to the fact that Manning can't decide what type of player he wants to be.
He'll go from being an efficient quarterback who makes plays to throwing interception after interception and keeping his team out of the playoffs. Few quarterbacks have wavered so much from year to year as the younger Manning has.
With that said, he still has a bevy of weapons at his disposal. Throw in the excitement revolving around running back David Wilson and his speed, and the Giants have a good chance of fielding one of the better offenses this year.
Key Players: QB Andrew Luck, WR Reggie Wayne, WR T.Y. Hilton, TE Dwayne Allen, TE Coby Fleener
After having a historic turnaround in 2012, the Indianapolis Colts should once again be good offensively.
It all starts with Luck, who proved last year that he has everything a team could want in a franchise quarterback. The Colts have done a fantastic job of surrounding him with young playmakers like Hilton, Allen and Fleener.
The only reason that this team could struggle on offense is due to the loss of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. It's unlikely that losing him will set this offense back too much simply due to the poise and maturity of Luck.
Indianapolis will be potent this year, and by this time next year, we should be talking about them as having one of the best offenses in the league.
Key Players: QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, RB Bernard Pierce, WR Torrey Smith
Is this a little too low for the defending Super Bowl champions? Maybe, but it's hard to argue that there are some major questions surrounding the Baltimore Ravens.
For example, who is going to replace the production of wide receiver Anquan Boldin? And what will the Ravens do now that starting tight end Dennis Pitta is lost for the season? Other than Smith, the Ravens don't have many receiving options for Flacco.
Look for Baltimore to lean on both Rice and Pierce to carry this team offensively until new receiving weapons can be found.
If we could all just stop making fun of Cutler's nonchalant look on the football field, we'd see that he leads an offense that could be dangerous this year.
The Bears have a talented, dual-threat running back in Forte. Marshall is a legitimate top-five receiver in the league, while Bennett is an underrated player who should thrive for Chicago.
There is also a new, offensive-minded coach in Marc Trestman in charge. He excels at grooming quarterbacks, and Cutler should improve under his tutelage.
Despite playing in the offensively dominant NFC North, the Bears should have little trouble holding their own this year.
Key Players: QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster, WR Andre Johnson, WR DeAndre Hopkins
The Houston Texans will bring back the same core of offensive players who've helped them have a great offense the past two seasons. Schaub, Foster and Johnson are all dangerous players separately, but combined they form a perfectly balanced offense.
The big addition this year will be at wide receiver with the rookie Hopkins. This is the first time that the Texans have had a legitimate No. 2 receiver to line up opposite of Johnson. Hopkins has a ton of upside in his own right, but what he'll do best this year is cause defenses not to be able to double- or triple-team Johnson.
Combine these key players with one of the better offensive lines in the league, and you have a dominant offense on your hands. Look for the Texans to be even better in 2013, which is a scary thought for the rest of the NFL.
Key Players: QB Tom Brady, RB, Stevan Ridley, WR Danny Amendola, TE Rob Gronkowski
Before you start to go all crazy for ranking the New England Patriots so low, just hear me out for a second.
Have we ever entered a season where Brady's receivers have been such a huge question mark? Gronkowski's status for the early part of the season is still in question, Amendola has yet to prove he can stay healthy, and Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez are gone.
It's possible that a handful of Brady's top targets this year will be rookies. We all know how good of a quarterback Brady is, but it will be a challenge for him to get the offense clicking with so many new faces.
Unless the Patriots get some of their young players to perform in a huge way, we could see this team struggle, especially at the start of the season.
Key Players: QB Tony Romo, RB DeMarco Murray, WR Dez Bryant, TE Jason Witten
We could argue all day about whether Romo is elite or a choke artist, but you will have a hard time denying that he's one of the better quarterbacks in the league. Has he struggled at times? Of course, but what big-time quarterback hasn't struggled?
While Romo is very good, what ultimately makes this offense so dangerous is the continued development of Bryant. His Week 16 performance of nine receptions, 224 yards and two touchdowns proved just how dominant he can be.
Defenses will have to keep a close eye on Bryant, which should open up the rest of this offense for players like Murray, Witten and Miles Austin. Look for Bryant to establish himself as a top-five receiver this year.
All in all, the Dallas Cowboys boast one of the best offenses in the NFL.
When you have the best receiver in the league, you automatically get bumped up in these rankings. Johnson's superiority to any other receiver is what positions the Detroit Lions so high in our rankings.
However, it's not like Detroit doesn't have other players who can make a big impact. From Stafford to Pettigrew, the Lions have talent all over the field.
One of the most exciting additions to this roster is Bush. He is a special player with the ball in his hands and should make an instant impact for the Lions.
Look for the Lions to be much improved from last year and get back to being a dominant team offensively.
Even without wide receiver Michael Crabtree to start the season, the San Francisco 49ers will have one of the better offenses in the league.
Some of that is thanks to a strong running game featuring Gore, James and Kendall Hunter. With the best offensive line in the league, the 49ers will have no difficulty moving the ball on the ground when they need to.
However, the real reason this team will be so successful without Crabtree is because of Kaepernick. He proved to be a star last year, and he still has an elite target in Davis. He'll need some of his younger receivers to step up, but Kaepernick has the ability to become an elite quarterback this year.
Look for San Francisco to field a fantastic offense at the start of the season and be even more dominant once Crabtree returns.
Key Players: QB Drew Brees, WR Marques Colston, WR Lance Moore, TE Jimmy Graham
As long as the New Orleans Saints have Brees at the helm, they'll remain one of the best offenses in the league.
Brees is one of the best quarterbacks in the league and continues to have plenty of weapons in New Orleans. In fact, the Saints have some of the most underrated weapons in the league.
Both Colston and Moore are talented receivers who have the ability to make plays down the field. They have great hands and consistently produce at a high level.
Then there is Graham, who presents matchup issues for defenses. Over the past few seasons, he's put himself into consideration as the best tight end in the league.
With all these options for Brees, plus the return of head coach Sean Payton, the Saints should have no trouble putting points on the board.
Key Players: QB Peyton Manning, WR Wes Welker, WR Demaryius Thomas, WR Eric Decker
With Peyton Manning entering his second year with the Denver Broncos, it's likely that they'll be even better offensively than they were last year. They ranked as the third-best offense last year, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
The addition of Welker will help this offense be even more potent than it was in 2012. With Welker, Thomas and Decker, the Broncos have one of the best receiving trios in the league.
The running game could regress a little this year with either Ronnie Hillman or Montee Ball carrying the majority of the load. However, it won't matter, as the Broncos figure to be a pass-happy team this year.
The only reason that the Broncos rank No. 3 right now is because of the amount of young talent that the teams above them have. This will be one of the best teams in the league offensively once again in 2013.
Key Players: QB Matt Ryan, RB Steven Jackson, WR Roddy White, WR Julio Jones, TE Tony Gonzalez
The Atlanta Falcons had one of the best offenses in the league this year, and all they did in the offseason was improve. They'll bring back the same core of offensive stars they had last year, but they added a dominant running back in Jackson.
While Jackson's 30 years of age is a little concerning, he still has the ability to be a capable running back in this league. Add in the fact that he'll be an upgrade as a receiver out of the backfield, and he adds quite a bit to an already fantastic offense.
The Falcons should once again be a pass-first team with Ryan, White, Jones and Gonzalez leading the way. This could be the year that we see Jones become Ryan's No. 1 option and White become a secondary option.
Either way, both players figure to have dominant receiving seasons. All this talent in Atlanta will result in one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Key Players: QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Jordy Nelson, WR James Jones, WR Randall Cobb, TE Jermichael Finley
The best offense in the league resides with the Green Bay Packers.
Not only does this team feature the best quarterback in Rodgers, but he has weapons galore. Both Nelson and Jones are talented receivers, but the true gem of the group is Cobb. He's a special talent who is incredible to watch once the ball gets in his hands.
The Packers should also have an improved running game. They spent two draft picks on Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin, and both should have an instant impact this year.
Then there is the ultra-talented Jermichael Finley, whom everyone seems to be forgetting about this year. He has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the NFL if he can live up to his potential.
All of this talent surrounding the best quarterback in the league is what gives the Packers the best offense right now.