Ranking the Top Offenses in the NFL After Week 8

Russell S. Baxter@@BaxFootballGuruContributor INovember 2, 2015

Ranking the Top Offenses in the NFL After Week 8

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    For a bunch of teams, we have reached the halfway point of the 2015 NFL season. It’s amazing to think that nearly half of the league’s 32 clubs have already played eight games.

    So we figured that this was as good a time as any to do a little evaluation of the league’s offensive units and which ones stand above the others.

    Now let’s keep in mind that five of the 10 teams on this list lost on Sunday. But we are here to rate their offensive units, not evaluate them as teams.

    How did we come up with these clubs? A combination of efficiency, consistency and overall production, combined with a hint of improvement by some of these attacks as the season has unfolded.

    In case you’re worried, we’ll be giving the defense some equal time on Wednesday morning. No offense.

10. New York Jets

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Perhaps a sarcastic officer named John McClain summed up the New York Jets feelings on Sunday at Oakland.

    If you are head coach Todd Bowles, you’re certainly not laughing following a 34-20 setback to the Raiders. But let’s ignore the fact that the Jets’ much-improved offense has been very efficient this season.

    Led by hard-charging running back Chris Ivory, wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and an efficient line, this club is averaging 376.7 total yards per game and their offensive unit has produced 19 touchdowns in seven contests. Last season, the Jets managed about 50 yards fewer per game (326.6) and totaled only 27 offensive touchdowns in 16 outings.

    Meanwhile, quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith have combined for 13 touchdown passes and only nine turnovers. That’s certainly a far cry from the recent play we’ve seen at the position in recent years.

9. San Diego Chargers

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    The San Diego Chargers continue to produce points, and the team continues to find ways to lose games.

    The Bolts are averaging a respectable 23.9 points per outing, and the offense has produced 21 touchdowns, 18 of them off the arm of quarterback Philip Rivers. He’s already thrown for 2,753 yards in eight games and has been picked off just seven times this season. But the veteran signal-caller has also been responsible for nine of the team’s 13 turnovers, which is what holds the team back in terms of a higher ranking.

    There’s been no holding back wide receiver Keenan Allen, who has amassed a league-high 67 catches, good for 725 yards and four touchdowns this year.

8. New York Giants

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    Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

    We won’t go into the overall inconsistency of the New York Giants as a team. But Tom Coughlin’s club finds ways to score points, and it’s mainly due to their reliable signal-caller, who hasn’t missed a game since he was inserted into the starting lineup with seven games to go back in 2004.

    Yes, six touchdown passes in one afternoon will elevate your numbers. But Eli Manning, who threw for 30 scores while being picked off only 14 times in 2014, has already totaled 17 touchdown passes and only four interceptions eight games into this season.

    With wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. at his disposal and other weapons such as wideouts Rueben Randle and Dwayne Harris, running back Shane Vereen and tight end Larry Donnell, Tom Coughlin’s club can put points on the board.

    And if the Giants ever find some consistency with the running game, things could get very interesting…at least on offense.

7. Oakland Raiders

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    Ben Margot/Associated Press

    Over the course of eight days, the Oakland Raiders totaled a combined 71 points in wins over the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets. In those games, second-year quarterback Derek Carr threw seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions.

    This is a team suddenly loaded with offensive options, and the combination of veteran wide receiver Michael Crabtree and rookie Amari Cooper has paid big-time dividends. The offensive line is solid, and running back Latavius Murray has been reliable.

    Crabtree (40) and Cooper (38) have combined for 78 receptions, good for 1,043 yards and six scores. Carr, who threw 21 touchdown passes and was picked off a dozen times in his rookie campaign, has already thrown for 15 scores compared to only three interceptions.

    In 2014, no team gained fewer total yards and fewer rushing yards than the Raiders. Oakland’s offensive unit produced only 26 touchdowns in 16 games. Now here’s an attack, led by offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, that has scored 20 offensive touchdowns in seven outings.

6. Atlanta Falcons

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    John Bazemore/Associated Press

    Yes, the Atlanta Falcons turned over the football four times in a bewildering 23-20 overtime home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. But let’s not ignore what Dan Quinn’s team has done in eight games and also give offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan his due.

    Led mainly by quarterback Matt Ryan, red-hot running back Devonta Freeman and big-play wide receiver Julio Jones, the Falcons’ attack has rolled up 414.8 yards per game, and their 22 offensive touchdowns are equally divided between rushing (11) and passing (11).

    Freeman leads the NFL with 709 rushing yards and has reached the 100-yard mark in this category in four of this last six games. Jones leads the league in catches (70) and receiving yards (892), and he and Freeman have combined for 17 of the club’s 22 offensive touchdowns.

    And if Ryan can cut back a bit on those 10 turnovers, perhaps we’ll see the Falcons ranked a little higher when we revisit this subject down the road.

5. New Orleans Saints

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Obviously, it’s easy to include a team that just put 52 points on the board while their quarterback tied an NFL record for touchdown passes in a game.

    But the once-struggling New Orleans Saints have won three straight games, and the rejuvenation of Drew Brees and the offense is certainly the key. As we know, it’s obviously not Rob Ryan’s defensive unit.

    Following a miserable 1-4 start in which the team was held to fewer than 20 points in three of those contests, the Saints have scored 31, 27 and 52 points, respectively, in their last three games. Those are the team’s top three scoring outputs of the season.

    Dating back to Brees and Sean Payton’s arrival in the Big Easy in 2006, the Saints have never been ranked lower than sixth in the NFL in total yards in a season. That streak may remain intact given recent developments.

    Back to Sunday and the team’s 52-49 win over the New York Giants. Brees threw for 511 yards and tied the NFL record with seven touchdown passes.

    “Things about this game were mind-boggling,” said Brees to Bill Pennington of the New York Times. “It was punch to punch. You didn’t even keep track of the exact score because you knew you’d just have to go back out and score again anyway.”

    Are the Saints coming? Their offense appears to finally be back on track.

4. Green Bay Packers

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    This may seem a little high coming off a night at Denver in which quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company were kept in check…and that’s an understatement.

    But a 29-10 loss to the Broncos in which the Green Bay Packers were limited to a mere 140 total yards isn’t exactly a positive for the resume.

    Still, Aaron Rodgers is…Aaron Rodgers. Even with his team’s performance against the Broncos, the Packers average 24.9 points per game, and the prolific signal-caller has thrown 15 touchdown passes while committing only three turnovers—all of those miscues in one game.

    Green Bay averages 122 yards per game on the ground, led by both Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Former Pro Bowler Randall Cobb is one of the best in the game, but the return of wide receiver James Jones to “Titletown” has been a boon to a team without Jordy Nelson. And the Packers offensive line has been very efficient, save for Sunday night in Denver.

    Don’t be fooled by the loss at Denver. This is an attack that ranks with the best in the game.

3. Cincinnati Bengals

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    Off to the best start in the history of the franchise, the Cincinnati Bengals are playing solid football in every aspect.

    But it’s been the resiliency of quarterback Andy Dalton, who on Sunday orchestrated yet another fourth-quarter comeback, which has made this a club a very viable Super Bowl contender.

    Dalton has been far from a one-man show, but he has been the catalyst. He’s completing 66.2 percent of his throws and has three times as many touchdown passes (15) than turnovers (five). The fifth-year quarterback has also run for two scores.

    These Bengals are averaging 394 total yards per game and have turned over the football only eight times in seven games, while Dalton has been sacked only nine times. That’s efficiency.

    Just consider the firepower that Marvin Lewis’ unbeaten club possesses these days. Wideouts A.J. Green and Marvin Jones are flanked by tight end Tyler Eifert. The trio has combined to haul in 13 of Dalton’s 15 aerial scores. Add in a ground attack featuring running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, and the options are endless.

2. Arizona Cardinals

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Yes, the Arizona Cardinals have totaled a league-high 263 points and are averaging a robust 32.9 points in their eight games this season. But Bruce Arians’ confident squad has gotten contributions from all three facets of the team.

    That’s not to take anything away from quarterback Carson Palmer, who threw four touchdown passes (one interception) in Sunday’s 34-20 victory at Cleveland and in eight outings this season. The veteran leader has thrown 20 touchdown passes and just six interceptions and has been sacked only eight times.

    With Palmer on his feet, wideout Larry Fitzgerald is enjoying a bounce-back season with 55 catches, seven for touchdowns. But it’s been the presence of running back Chris Johnson, who joined the team this offseason and has already rushed for 676 yards and three touchdowns that has made this group downright dangerous.

1. New England Patriots

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Some would say that this is a team on a mission. Personally, I thought all 32 teams were on a mission.

    The bottom line is that the New England Patriots have scored at least 30 points in six of their seven games this season—after they were “limited” to 28 points in their Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The Tom Brady-led Pats lead the NFL in points scored per game (35.6 average), and the prolific signal-caller has been nearly as perfect as the team’s 7-0 record. Brady has thrown for 2,410 yards and 20 scores while being picked off just once in seven games.

    Whether it's to wideouts Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, relentless tight end Rob Gronkowski or running back Dion Lewis, Brady spreads the ball around so efficiently that it’s nearly impossible to focus on any one pass-catcher. At least for now, the running game is an afterthought.

    Just wait until the offensive line finally comes together.

    All free-agent information and player signings/transactions are courtesy of Spotrac. Depth-chart information comes via Ourlads. Unless otherwise noted, all player and team statistics come from Pro Football Reference and ESPN.com. All player ratings courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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