2011 NFL Predictions: Ranking the Top 10 Passing Offenses in the NFL
Having a strong group of players who can catch the ball is so valuable in the NFL these days, and many of the successful teams over recent years have had a group of great wide receivers, tight ends and the occasional running back.
With the recent free-agent frenzy, some wide receivers have found new homes and will make immediate impacts on their respective teams.
If you love offense, then you'll love watching these 10 teams on Sunday.
10. Dallas Cowboys
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Jason Witten, Felix Jones
Player Under the Radar: Manuel Johnson
In the end, the Cowboys are way potent to be left off, even with the loss of Roy Williams.
Miles Austin has become one of the better deep threats in the NFL, and Dez Bryant will knock on the door of a 1,000-yard season in his second season.
Jason Witten is one of the most reliable tight ends in the game, and Felix Jones has enough speed to turn a dump-off pass into a 50-yard gain.
They do lack some depth at the receiver position, but that could mean that a talented guy like Manuel Johnson could end up getting the opportunity to have a breakout year.
9. New York Giants
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Hakeem Nicks, Steve Smith, Mario Manningham
Player Under the Radar: Jerrel Jernigan (Rookie)
The Giants are fortunate enough to have three wide receivers who can take over a game at any moment.
Hakeem Nicks had a breakout second season in the NFL, and he's by far the best receiver on the team. But you can't leave out the deep threat abilities of both Steve Smith and Mario Manningham.
One guy who could end up making this passing offense one of the best in the NFL is rookie Jerrel Jernigan, who has freakish speed and should get a few opportunities lining up in the slot this season.
8. San Diego Chargers
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Antonio Gates, Vincent Jackson, Patrick Crayton
Player Under the Radar: Seyi Ajirotutu
We've grown accustomed to the Chargers having a great passing game over the years, and keeping Vincent Jackson was a must if they wanted to remain that way.
Patrick Crayton is a good veteran receiver who will give you a 100-yard game every now and then, and the tight end position is solid with Antonio Gates and Randy McMichael.
To beat the Chargers in 2011, secondaries will have to be at their best.
7. New York Jets
Joe Corrigan/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Plaxico Burress, Dustin Keller
Player Under the Radar: Patrick Turner
The Jets ended up being the team to take the risk of signing Plaxico Burress, a guy who hasn't played in the NFL since 2008.
It's going to take some time for Burress to work out some of the kinks, but if he begins to return to his old form, then Rex Ryan and company could easily end up in the Super Bowl.
Re-signing Santonio Holmes was huge, and Jerricho Cotchery is still a valuable piece to this team as well.
6. Houston Texans
Bob Levey/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, Kevin Walter, Owen Daniels, Arian Foster
Player Under the Radar: Terrence Toliver (Rookie)
The passing game has kept the Texans competitive over the last few years, and it will keep them in the playoff race again this season.
You can't double team Andre Johnson too much, because this team has other guys who will make you pay.
It's also important to remember how dangerous Arian Foster is as a receiver. Foster had over 600 receiving yards as a running back last season.
Rookie Terrence Toliver could end up emerging as a major playmaker this season, which would make this offense pretty much unstoppable.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Desean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, Ronnie Brown
Player Under the Radar: Riley Cooper
This team was one play away from taking down a very good Packers team in the first round of the playoffs last season, and their passing game played a huge role in that.
The Eagles have the luxury of being able to go deep pretty much anytime they want with Desean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin lining up on the outside.
Jason Avant was a solid third option last season, and Brent Celek has become one of the better tight ends in the NFL.
They recently signed Ronnie Brown, who is a great receiver out of the backfield. Expect plenty of dump-offs from Michael Vick this season, which will lead to high passing numbers.
The passing attack is loaded for the Eagles in 2011 and should help them make yet another trip to the NFC Championship game.
4. New Orleans Saints
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, Lance Moore, Darren Sproles
Player Under the Radar: Jimmy Graham
In recent years, the Saints have had one of the better passing games in the NFL, and that shouldn't change in 2011.
They may have lost a receiving threat in Reggie Bush, but they replaced him with arguably a better weapon out of the backfield in Darren Sproles.
As for their wide receivers, pick your poison. This team has four guys who can have a 100-plus yard performance on any given Sunday.
All four of the Saints' top receivers (Colston, Henderson, Meachem, and Moore) had at least 450 receiving yards last season.
Watch out for second-year tight end Jimmy Graham, too. He came on strong at the end of last season and, with Jeremy Shockey out of the picture, he should get way more targets from Drew Brees.
3. New England Patriots
Biggest Receiving Threats: Wes Welker, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch, Brandon Tate, Danny Woodhead
Player Under the Radar: Julian Edelman
The Patriots organization just has a knack for making seemingly ordinary players into superstars.
Now that they've added Chad Ochocinco to the mix, there's no telling how great this passing game will be in 2011.
The Patriots will need that potent passing attack going up against some great secondaries like the Jets, Eagles and Steelers.
There's a good balance here of short-yardage receivers, deep threats, solid tight ends and good receiving running backs.
If Julian Edelman can stay healthy this season, then that will add yet another viable receiver for this team.
Basically, this team has it all and it will be like a buffet for Tom Brady all season long when he drops back to pass.
2. Green Bay Packers
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jermichael Finley, Jordy Nelson, James Jones
Player Under the Radar: Randall Cobb (Rookie)
Even with all of the injuries the Packers dealt with in 2010, they were still able to rank fifth in the NFL in total passing yards.
Assuming Jermichael Finely can stay healthy for the duration of the regular season, then this team should be one of the highest scoring teams in the NFL thanks to their passing game.
They drafted the dynamic Randall Cobb in this year's draft, and he could end up making the Packers virtually unstoppable for opposing defenses.
Jordy Nelson and James Jones emerged as great complements to the veteran receivers in 2010, so expect the Packers to make another Super Bowl run in 2011.
1. Indianapolis Colts
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Biggest Receiving Threats: Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzalez, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon
Player Under the Radar: Blair White
It's hard to argue that there's a more fine-tuned passing offense than what the Colts have.
When they lost Marvin Harrison to retirement, guys like Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie stepped in to make up for the lost production.
Like some college fans like to say: they don't rebuild, they just reload.
The Colts are never out of a game because of their passing game, and a lot of that can be contributed to Peyton Manning.
However, the Colts can beat you from so many angles thanks to their receivers, and we saw that last season.
The Colts amazingly had six different players who eclipsed the 300-yard mark in 2010, and those same six players had 32 receiving touchdowns collectively.
No team runs the two-minute drill better than the Colts, thanks to them having so many different guys who can beat you. As a defense, you really can't afford to double-team anyone.