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Ranking the Top 10 Offenses in NFL History

greatest offensive units in NFL history

In the NFL, the offensive side of the game has always held an edge above the defense. Even more so in the pass-happy era that we are seeing in the league. With the advent of prolific quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes, the NFL has seen a significant change in the approach of players towards the game. Franchises are more interested in acquiring talent that will add an impetus in the final third, and it has been evident during the recent drafts.

Even the personal accolades associated with the game have always been given to offensive players, with a huge focus on QBs and running backs. In the last few years, no player from any position other than these two has won the MVP award. With the league leaning towards this new approach, it is only a matter of time before the defense starts getting completely overlooked.

Keeping that in mind, today we take a look at some of the greatest offensive units in the history of the NFL.

#10. Washington Redskins (1983)

The oldest team on our list, it is fair to say that the 83 Redskins ushered in a new era in the history of the league. During that time, passing was frowned upon and players were expected to use brute force in order to deliver touchdowns. However the Redskins showed the entire league how effective this approach could be if applied in the right way.

That is what the Washington Redskins were able to achieve during the 1983-84 season when their offense was a menace for the opposition. They were hard to keep in check because of their playbook, which was quite new in that era. Led by the legendary Joe Theismann, the Redskins produced numbers that are difficult to emulate in the present game.

However, their season came to a tragic end when they faced the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl. The Raiders took home the Lombardi Trophy after a relatively easy game. However, a Super Bowl defeat does not tarnish the legacy that the Redskins created. That unit will forever be credited as the pioneer of the modern game.

#9. Buffalo Bills (1990)

NBA fanatics will surely remember the exploits of the iconic Buffalo Bills squad of the ’90s. There were a lot of reasons behind their meteoric rise. However, there was none more impactful than the lighting offense they had. When an outfit has a quarterback as productive as Jim Kelly, it becomes very hard to stifle the threat. Moreover, they had a brilliant running back in Thurman Thomas, who could take defenses apart with ease.

That season the Buffalo Bills played with swagger and confidence. It was almost as if the players knew that they would win the game as soon as they stepped onto the field. Their determination was evident from the way they took on their opposition and destroyed them in every game.

However, as is the case with many legendary outfits, this Buffalo Bills team could not deliver a Super Bowl victory. They went to the game on four consecutive occasions but always returned empty-handed. Players like Jim Kelly and Thomas were honored with Hall of Fame inductions, but the pain of coming so close to the trophy is very hard to forget.

#8. Atlanta Falcons (2016)

The Atlanta Falcons did not bring anything new to the table, but they were still an effective side right from the start of the season to the Super Bowl. The reason behind that, they just did the basics right. Each and every play of their offense was practiced a lot of times on the training ground and it showed during games. Every positional player was aware of his role and did that to near perfection. That is what made the Falcons a potent side during the 2016-17 season.

At the helm of the Falcons offense was QB Matt Ryan, who was performing well beyond his skillset in that season. He was producing great numbers in every game of the season, and it was hard for defenses to subdue him. In fact, he threw for an astonishing 4944 yards and also had 38 touchdowns to his name. Many analysts consider Ryan as the sole reason behind the Falcons’ great season.

However, the Falcons will always be remembered as the team that blew a 28-3 lead over the Tom Brady-led New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Losing the Super Bowl hurts, but it does not take away from the fact that the Falcons offense was the best in the business throughout the course of that season.

#7. New Orleans Saints (2011)

There have not been many players able to match the quality of Drew Brees in the NFL. The quarterback was the epitome of loyalty and dedication to his craft and the franchise. In fact, he is considered the sole reason behind the Saints’ meteoric rise. After winning the 2010 Super Bowl, the Saints were raring to go and they started performing on a whole new level with the advent of a new season.

It was undoubtedly Brees’ best year as a Saint. He put up numbers that are hard to believe at first glance. He threw for a record 5476 yards that season, and also recorded 46 touchdown passes to his name. In fact, this was his best year in terms of passer stats and impact on the side. Having an impressive 13-3 record in the regular season, the Saints were quite happy with the way their season was progressing.

Finally, they reached the Super Bowl where they faced a resurgent Green Bay Packers side led by Aaron Rodgers. Despite a valiant fight, the Saints were defeated and missed their chance of a second consecutive Super Bowl victory. Despite this loss, there is no denying the fact that the 2011 New Orleans Saints played like a force of nature and have become a source of inspiration for future offensive systems.

#6. Minnesota Vikings (1998)

In terms of dominating offenses, the ’98 Minnesota Vikings will always rank near the top. The only reason why this team does not get a higher spot on our list is that they could not convert their dominance into a title. Led by veteran Randall Cunningham, the Vikings offense was always on the prowl to capitalize on any mistake of the opposition. They did so in quite some style as they scored 556 points that is the sixth highest in the league’s history.

However, the Vikings had another trump card that took the league by storm that season. A young 20-year-old rookie named Randy Moss had just arrived on the scene. In his first season in the NFL, he was torching defenses with his electrifying pace and tremendous athleticism. He was one of the biggest factors behind the success of the Vikings.

The journey of this team was relatively short as they could not make it to the Super Bowl. They lost to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC title game. Nevertheless, this team will always be remembered as a prolific unit and the side that nurtured NFL legend, Randy Moss.

#5. Kansas City Chiefs (2018)

The year 2018 will always be remembered as the year when Patrick Mahomes came into his own as a player. The numbers he produced and the impact he had on the field were just magical. His prolific nature and unbelievable technique were the main reasons behind the Kansas City Chiefs having the season of their dreams in 2018. In fact, he was able to equal Tom Brady’s record of 5000 yards and 50 touchdowns in a single season en route to his MVP award.

With the advent of Pat in the quarterback position, the Chiefs looked a different outfit altogether. Suddenly they were able to execute plays and control the flow of the game. In the end, the team wasn’t able to win the Super Bowl, but that did not stop Patrick Mahomes from announcing himself to the world.

Even in the last season, Mahomes led the Chiefs to yet another Super Bowl appearance, only to fall prey to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has single-handedly transformed the entire offensive unit into a force to reckon with and is showing no signs of stopping. The Kansas City Chiefs have turned themselves into an institution for offensive brilliance and it has done wonders for their confidence.

#4. Green Bay Packers (2011)

The Packers team of the 2011-12 season is another one of those offenses who did not produce extraordinary numbers but rather focused on producing wins and being near the top of the league. Led by NFL great Aaron Rodgers, the Packers were heavily reliant on the potency of their offense to set them apart from the rest. They did so with relative ease as Rodgers had the season of his life, throwing a career-high 45 touchdowns.

Apart from A-Rod, there were many fringe players who came to the fore during the course of the season. One of them who performed head and shoulders above the rest was Jordy Nelson. He had 68 receptions to his name and ran for 1263 yards during that season. There was a certain assurance about the way the Packers took to the field. It was almost as if the fans knew that one of the players was going to step up and produce something magical.

However, they could not convert their rich vein of form into a Super Bowl victory as they lost to the eventual champions New York Giants in the divisional round. Irrespective of their shortcomings, the ’11 Green Bay Packers will be remembered as an offensive outfit of tremendous quality.

#3. New England Patriots (2007)

The Patriots’ outfit was the perfect example of offensive brilliance and exceptional game awareness, and all of that happened because of one quarterback who would change the game forever. Tom Brady came into his own in the 2006-07 season and delivered one of the most ruthless performances in NFL history. By the end of the regular season, every other team was reeling from the shock of facing him and his rocket arm.

During that season, Brady threw for an unbelievable 4806 yards and recorded 50 touchdown passes to his name. In fact, it was the record for the most number of touchdowns thrown by a quarterback in 2007. The kind of impact he had on the opposition and the league as a whole got him the MVP award for that season.

However, the New England Patriots could not capitalize on their ridiculous record of 16-0 in the regular season. They reached the Super Bowl but were taken down by the New York Giants. The ’07 Patriots will forever be known as the team that showcased the brilliance of Tom Brady and revolutionized offensive plays under the tutelage of Bill Belichick.

#2. St. Louis Rams (1999)

The St. Louis Rams were a force of nature during the late ’90s. Filled to the brim with stalwarts, the Rams annihilated almost every opposition they came up against. However, the ’99 Rams will forever be remembered as the outfit that went the full distance and then some. That team finished their most successful season yet with a Super Bowl victory over the Tenessee Titans. In fact, they are the only team to do so on our list.

The prolific nature of this team’s offense stemmed from their quarterback Kurt Warner. Never one to back down from a challenge, Warner outdid himself in every game of that season. He threw for more than 4300 yards and recorded 41 touchdowns to his name. In the end, his exploits earned him the MVP award for that season.

Apart from Warner, “The greatest show on the turf” also had a handful of great runners. With the likes of Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce on the roster, they were able to produce when their team needed it the most. In every game that season including the Super Bowl, the Rams were heavily reliant on their offense and it did not disappoint.

#1. Denver Broncos (2013)

When a side has Peyton Manning, you just know that they will put on an offensive masterclass every time they take to the field. That is exactly what the Denver Broncos showed during the 2013-14 season when they torched every opposition that came in their way. Manning, in the final stages of his career, produced performances that have been hard to emulate by any other quarterback after him.

He threw for a record 55 touchdowns that season and took home the MVP honors. This award was the cherry-on-top of his Hall of Fame career. Apart from Him, the Broncos had players like Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, who are legends in their own right. All of these players together formed the most potent offensive unit in NFL history.

However, as the saying goes, good offense can win you games but good defense will win you tournaments. We got to see a live example of that in Super Bowl XLVIII when the Denver Broncos took on the Seattle Seahawks. Arguably the greatest defense of all time, the Seahawks crushed the Broncos and lifted the Lombardi Trophy. Despite this Super Bowl defeat, the fact cannot be denied that the ’13 Broncos were the best offensive unit anyone had ever seen.


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