The Atlanta Falcons were the best offense in football last season, and it wasn’t really close. They averaged 19 points before halftime of games in 2016, the second-most in NFL history. Led by reigning MVP Matt Ryan, the Falcons had a dynamic running game and a versatile passing game. Combine their elite personnel and the head-coach-worthy job of former Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, and the Falcons were virtually impossible to defend on their way to the franchise’s second ever Super Bowl appearance.
Shanahan is gone, but their roster is still mostly intact. The Falcons should be good again next year and probably for years to come. But beyond them, where do NFL offenses rank going into 2017?
1. New England Patriots
- It’s only right to start with the team that defeated them in the Super Bowl. The Patriots are loaded for another run, signing Brandin Cooks, Rex Burkhead and Dwayne Allen in free agency to pair with their already-dominant offense. They’re simply the best coached team in football — they’re totally unpredictable in how they decide to pick defenses apart on a weekly basis. With a fully-healthy Gronkowski, there’s not a scarier offense in the league.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers
- The Steelers will finally have their big four on the field together pending any suspensions, injuries, etc. It’s been a while since Ben Roethlisberger had the luxury of playing with arguably the best running back, receiver, and deep-threat in the entire league. Not to mention the Steelers have a top-five offensive line. Le’Veon Bell is a running back who can do it all; Antonio Brown has consistently been a top-two receiver for years now, and Martavis Bryant is the missing piece who’s primed to return to the lineup in a big way in 2017.
3. Dallas Cowboys
- The Cowboys are absolutely blessed to have found their next franchise quarterback in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Considering his draft spot, they’re in prime winning position for the foreseeable future thanks to the rookie contract of Dak Prescott. In front of Prescott is a top-five offensive line, and behind him is a top-3 running back. Ezekiel Elliott can run, pass block, and catch out of the backfield; he’s the ultimate three-down running back. The Cowboys receiving cast isn’t extraordinaire, but it’s just fine for their efficient offensive attack. They can be unstoppable with a fully-healthy Dez Bryant.
4. Oakland Raiders
- This selection, like the top three, has a lot to do with comfort along the most important unit in football: the offensive line. Derek Carr had all day to throw last year, and if it weren’t for Latavius Murray being so underwhelming, they would have had the best offense in football. Replace him with Marshawn Lynch, and it’s tough to keep the Raiders out of the top five. They have a solid receiving cast, added an athletic tight end in Jared Cook, and have one of the better young receivers in football in Amari Cooper. If Lynch returns to form after taking a year off, this offense should keep them in games despite a bad defense.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- This one may be a surprise, but the Bucs are primed to explode in 2017. Jameis Winston needs to get his turnovers down, but explosive plays should make up for it. Going into his third season, he’s in a perfect position to fully break out. The Bucs added DeSean Jackson and drafted OJ Howard to join an already-good supporting cast on offense. Add in Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, and an encouraging running duo, and the Bucs can be one of the best offenses in football next season.
6. New Orleans Saints
- It’s kind of flown under the radar that Adrian Peterson joined a Drew Brees led offense this offseason. While Brandin Cooks is gone, the Saints still have a solid receiving core thanks to promising second-year stud Michael Thomas and Willie Snead. Sean Payton is one of the best offensive coaches in football, and if they figure out how to use Peterson while still mixing in the underrated Mark Ingram, the Saints offense may finally be able to fully mask their horrific defensive woes to win more than seven games in 2017. Either way you slice it, the Saints are scary to play with Drew Brees at the helm.
7. New York Giants
- The Giants added Brandon Marshall and drafted Evan Engram to help cover for their problems protecting the quarterback and running the football. While the Giants’ offensive line has been their primary weakness in recent years, having such a dynamic passing attack should help keep defenses on their toes. They’d be much higher on the list if they had a proven run game, but their still in my top 10 given the amount of playmakers on offense and stability at the quarterback position.
8. Green Bay Packers
- The Packers are an automatic top 10 offense as long as Rodgers is the quarterback, but they still have some question marks. Who can you rely on besides Rodgers and Jordy Nelson? It’s yet to be seen if Ty Montgomery can hold up as a running back for 16 games, while Devante Adams (despite a huge year) dropped a lot of passes last season. He needs to be more consistent, while Randall Cobb needs to just be… existent — he’s been a bit of a disappointment in recent years. Martellus Bennett should help, and I still like the Packers. They’re a top offense, but there were a ton of concerns before they turned it on for the second half of the season last year.
9. Tennessee Titans
- The Titans are trending upward, and they’re a hot pick to win the AFC South this season. They have a good offensive line, two good running backs, a promising young quarterback, and finally a solid receiving cast. If Corey Davis is anything like the Corey Davis we saw in college, this offense should be among the most efficient in the league next season.
10. Carolina Panthers
- This was tough, but I couldn’t keep the Panthers off my top 10 list despite a really down year in 2016. The addition of Christian McCaffrey to their offense makes them that much more dynamic, especially Cam Newton. The guy was the undisputed MVP just two seasons ago. Add McCaffrey, a healthy Kelvin Benjamin, and speedy rookie Curtis Samuel, and I think we’re going to get a more 2015 version of the Panthers than what we saw in 2016.