Ranking the 5 Most Potent Offenses in the NFL
There's very little ambiguity involved when it comes to ranking the league's most potent offenses at the midway point of any given NFL season. What you see is pretty much what you get.
That said, you might just be surprised by at least one of the teams that made the top five in what has been a topsy-turvy, upside-down season so far in 2011.
No. 1 the New Orleans Saints
San Diego castoffs Drew Brees and Darren Sproles are lighting it up in a way that the league has never seen before, which should be no great surprise to anyone. Sean Payton is a master at drawing up plays that take advantage of his players' strengths while at the same time effectively masking their weaknesses.
The very definition of a one-man team, Darren Sproles has proven that he can carry the load and to say he was a great pickup for the Saints is a gross understatement. Currently leading the team in both receptions and rushing yards, Sproles also returns kicks and punts, including one for a touchdown.
Provided he can remain healthy, Sproles is well on his way to turning out what amounts to an unprecedented, historically significant, season for the ages.
Mighty Mouse is not the only weapon the Saints have either, as New Orleans boasts the most balanced offense in the NFL. Led by the prolific, future Hall of Famer Drew Brees, there isn't anything the Saints offense doesn't do well.
With 3,000 yards passing already this season, Brees is on pace to obliterate the record held by Dan Marino for passing yards in a single season. If not for their debacle against St. Louis, New Orleans would likely lead the league in every single statistical category on offense.
No. 2 the Green Bay Packers
What can you say about Aaron Rodgers, who, like Michael Jordan, seems perpetually in the zone. Without question, his exceptional corps of receivers and outstanding offensive line deserve their fair share of the credit, as does Mike McCarthy for both his play-calling and design. It is Rodgers' amazing pocket presence, though, and unrivaled accuracy—both in and outside the pocket—that make the Packers' passing offense nearly impossible to slow down.
As it stands, Rodgers may be the very best that there is at what he does.
And while it's tough to find any fault with this unit, Green Bay will need a little more balance on offense in order to overtake the Saints as the No. 1 offense in the league for the 2011 season. That said, the Packers are a pass-first team and their solid but unspectacular rushing attack has more to do with that fact than it does any weaknesses in the running game.
No. 3 the Philadelphia Eagles
In the NFL, timing is everything and the Eagles are getting hot at the right time. Philadelphia's struggles in the red zone aside, the real problem with the Eagles this season has more to do with their defense than it does anything else.
On offense, this team can move the football as well as any, on the ground or through the air. The unique matchup problems that Michael Vick creates makes the Eagles offense the explosive, dangerous unit that they are.
If Philadelphia can come up with some creative ways of scoring touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone—as they did against Dallas—they'll be nearly impossible to stop and will move up in the rankings accordingly.
No. 4 the New England Patriots
Although on the downslide, the Patriots racked up huge numbers on offense while the league scrambled to figure out the brilliant, two-tight end scheme Belichick ran during the first half of the season. As is inevitably the case, once enough film was compiled on the Patriots offense, teams figured out how to stop Belichick's scheme sending him back to the drawing board for the time being.
Being the mastermind that he is, though, counting Belichick's offense out at this stage would be premature to say the least. Surely the Patriots brain trust is hard at work as we speak drawing up new, never-seen-before schemes to take the league by surprise again and effectively mask the depleted talent base on New England's roster.
No. 5 the San Diego Chargers
Contrary to popular consensus, San Diego has already commenced upon its patented late-season run.
As he has done for what is now the fifth season in a row, coach Norv Turner broke out his second-half playbook against the Packers on Sunday and the Chargers offense exploded as it has done every year at the exact same point in the season.
It's absolutely no coincidence that, over the last four seasons, the Chargers are 26-6 in the second half. Much in the same way that the Patriots used a scheme that the league had not had a chance to prepare for to rack up wins earlier this season, it will take teams at least four to six weeks to get a handle on what the Chargers are doing on offense right now.
And while Turner's second-half playbook may not be common knowledge yet, it should be. The Chargers put up 38 points and nearly 500 total yards against the best team remaining on their schedule running an entirely different set of plays than they ran through the first eight games.
Sure, many will dismiss my observations simply because they have no idea what I am talking about. But that will not change the fact that the Chargers will, as they have for the last four years, win more games than they lose during November and December, and end up at or near the top in terms of offensive production by season's end.