Statistically, a handful of NFL teams can stake claim to being the most difficult to stop and giving opposing coaches nightmares over figuring out how to defend. But which offense is really the NFL's most explosive?
Weapons abound in Green BayThis is mainly a conversation involving the teams with the top five passing attacks from last season -- the Colts, Chargers, Saints and Packers. All of these teams should continue to have explosive offenses, and it's difficult to separate them.
I'm going to go with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers continues to soar as an elite quarterback. He's also surrounded by arguably the best group of pass-catchers in the league who should only be stronger with the return of injured tight end Jermichael Finley and the addition of second-round pick Randall Cobb. By their offensive nature, the Packers are a team that is likely to keep generating a whole lot of yards and points.
This is one super offenseThe NFL continues to evolve offensively, and quick-strike attacks are becoming the rule, not the exception. New Orleans quickly comes to mind, with Drew Brees able to orchestrate the offensive symphony. Green Bay won the Super Bowl with Aaron Rodgers' ascension to the next level as a playmaker, but didn't get much help from the running game. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady lead offenses that can strike, even without a plethora of lightning-fast weapons. Right now, I pick the Packers by an eyelash over the Saints based on the most recent Super Bowl win.
Marching up and down the fieldMy candidates for the most explosive offense include the Patriots, Saints and Packers. New England was the only team to average more than 30 points per game last year (32.4). The Saints have scored 165 touchdowns during the last three seasons. The Packers played a tremendous game in the Super Bowl without Ryan Grant or Finley.
My choice is the Saints due to the addition of running back Mark Ingram and the emergence of former basketball player Jimmy Graham at tight end. New Orleans' offensive line is excellent and I could see them balancing their attack and averaging about 30 points per game.
Bolting to the topIt's difficult to top the Chargers. Statistically, they were tops in many key categories a year ago ... and that was with a rookie running back who never took off, and without their Pro Bowl left tackle and Pro Bowl receiver for large chunks of the regular season.
The Chargers missed the playoffs due to horrid special teams play and crazy lapses at inopportune times, but rarely was the offense held down. Norv Turner is an offensive mastermind, Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson should be there all season, Antonio Gates should be healthier and Ryan Mathews should be better (and if he's not Mike Tolbert is a more-than-capable replacement).
Yes, they'll likely lose Darren Sproles, but Philip Rivers is only getting better. This offense is filled with veterans -- so the extended lockout shouldn't have nearly the impact it will on less cohesive offenses -- and could be poised for monster production in 2011.
A defensive coordinator's nightmareI'm going to view things as if I'm a defensive coordinator. The team I'd most hate to game-plan for is the Saints. They have multiple receivers who can scorch you. Tight end David Thomas is underrated and Graham will give them more big-play potential than Jeremy Shockey ever did. If Pierre Thomas stays healthy and Ingram can contribute right away, along with Chris Ivory (and maybe Reggie Bush), New Orleans should return to being one of the top rushing teams in the NFL. However, what sets them apart from everyone else is the offensive line, which can maul and finesse; quarterback Drew Brees, an unquestioned leader with impeccable accuracy; and coach Sean Payton, arguably the most aggressive play-caller in the league.
Changing my answer ... sortaWell, in the video above where Steve and I discussed this very topic, I selected the Eagles. But by the end of it, he started swaying me towards the Saints. So I'm gonna have to go 1A. Eagles, 1B. Saints.
Not to be noncommittal, but I will say that if they are healthy, you can lump the Packers in there, too. That's a big if. Ryan Grant needs to be as effective as he was in 2008 and 2009. Donald Driver, who's getting up there in age, needs to come back strong. Ditto Jermichael Finley, who's young, but coming off injury. Jordy Nelson must rediscover his hands. And, of course, there's the question of healthy desire. Now that they've won it all, can they come back and do it again?
Let the Eagles soarThe Philadelphia Eagles have the league's most explosive offense due to the presence of dynamic playmakers at the quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions. The trio of Michael Vick, LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are difficult to defend individually, but their collective talents put defenses in a quandary.
The combination of Vick and Jackson forces opponents to use an assortment of coverage designed to prevent the deep ball, but the effectiveness of the Eagles' complementary players -- Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and Jason Avant -- makes it difficult to solely pay attention to the vertical game. Also, the clever use of McCoy on draws and screens allows the Eagles to take advantage of the deep drops of the opponent's underneath defenders. He averaged over five yards a carry in the running game and provided the unit with six receptions over 20 yards. That is important because it forces the defense to play honestly in every situation, which opens up the rest of the field for his teammates.
Even though the Eagles' auxiliary weapons are dangerous on their own accord, it is the presence of Vick that makes the unit go. He is the quintessential playmaker at the position with his ability to create big plays with his feet and arm. He is often the fastest athlete on the field, and his sheer speed overwhelms opponents. In the past, opponents would load up the box to slow him down as a runner and dare him to beat them as a passer. However, he made significant progress as a passer and routinely demonstrated the ability to pick apart opponents with pinpoint throws.
As an improved passer with the touch and accuracy to fit the ball into the tight windows, Vick has become difficult to guard for opponents due to his balanced game and his explosive supporting cast. With all of the pieces in place to terrorize opponents, the Eagles are clearly the league's most dangerous offense to face.