Five Most Watchable Offenses In The NFL

Traditional NFL wisdom goes something like this:

Offenses win games; defenses win championships.

While that may be true to a certain extent, let's take a look at a great example of a defensive struggle from last season's NCAA football "defensive" game of the year.

Six. To. Three. In double overtime.

Woo? Remember the league's less-than-stellar offensive units? It's like that.

In any case, the point I'm making here is that offenses may not win championships in the real NFL. But that said, they certainly win fantasy ones and most definitely win television viewership.

Again, I feel I should explain the difference between "good" and "watchable." While a successful offense may be helpful for the team, it may not necessarily be a fun offense to watch. Think the 2000 Ravens, our generation's quintessential "three yards and a cloud of dust," or the current Kansas City unit, which I would have included on my previous list, had I extended past five teams.

So, without further ado:

5. Indianapolis Colts

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Luck has talent, we all realize that; the former No. 1 overall draft pick has certainly lived up to his superstar potential, and has been asked to shoulder the entire load of an offense that seemed stacked against him.

"What do you mean, Zach?!" you may be asking.

Trent Richardson. That's what I mean. It's like the Colts actively decided they were going to pay as much attention to the success of their running game as a true martini connoisseur pays to vermouth. However, starting in 2015, this may have changed with the free-agent signing of stalwart "he's totally not too old for 300 carries" Frank Gore, who could give this offense a much-needed spark on the ground.

But what makes them watchable, rather than simply good?

Their horrible, horrible defense. One of the greatest playoff games in recent memory involved the Colts coming back from a 28-point deficit to beat the Chiefs, 45-44, in January 2014. They were in that hole, of course, because of their inability to stop Alex Smith from throwing long touchdown passes. Let that fact sink in for a moment.

In the 2014-15 regular season, the defense wasn't much better: 19th in points allowed and 18th in rushing yards allowed, as a start. While their passing offense was more middle-of-the-pack, the offseason failed to produce any real blockbuster impact to make their defense less porous.

With that, expect Luck to be slinging to new receivers Andre Johnson and Phillip Dorsett, the ageless cyborg Gore handling 20 carries per game, and just enough "I can't believe he did that!" plays from this offense to land them at fifth on my list.

4. Green Bay Packers 

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Eddie Lacy is a monster. He managed 74 yards on 21 carries against the Seahawks in Seattle during the playoffs last season, which against a league-average defense is close to 200. Also, the Packers' quarterback is a guy you may have heard of:

Aaron Rodgers threw for over 4,300 yards and 38 touchdowns last season; his shiftiness in the pocket and ability to throw receivers open is the stuff of legend. He's got two of the league's best receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb (who went to Kentucky; that's like working your first four years as a McDonald's janitor then finding a job as a Victoria's Secret bikini waxer, for those of you who don't follow the SEC), and the aforementioned Lacy to keep defenses honest.

Again, though; why are they "watchable" instead of merely "good"? For one, because sometimes Lacy gets stuffed and forgets how to run the football, leading Rodgers to take over more of the production. Second, because Nelson is more shifty and fast than he has any right to be, and defenses continually fail to remember that.

Thirdly, though, and most importantly?


Watching any offense in extreme weather adds a satisfying level of excitement, but watching players slip and fall is mere schaudenfreude; watching the Packers execute in snow and ice like Olympians while mere mortals struggle to find their emotional and physical footing is witnessing nothing short of ethereal perfection.

3. Cleveland Browns

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Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

If you recall, the Browns made my "least watchable" list, at the top spot no less.

Cleveland’s top-billed ranking on this list is assuming Josh McCown takes over the starting duties for the entire season. If Johnny Rehab gets under center, good or ill, this team immediately becomes appointment television.

So, their No. 3 spot on the current list obviously assumes Johnny Manziel gets the call for Week 1.

The Browns are not a good offense, don't get me wrong. Apart from Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West and the running game, there's not a whole lot to root for. 

Dwayne Bowe? Only in the league for fantasy football team name puns.

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Brian Hartline? The scrappiest of gym rats.

Color me asleep. Nevertheless, Manziel's ability to either be incredibly, unbelievably amazing (which has yet to manifest itself at the professional level) or the same level of terrible makes the Browns, in my book, a must-watch offense.

2. Philadelphia Eagles

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Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's Tebow Time®.

Assuming The Holy One, Tim Tebow, makes the 53-man roster to start the season, any team with Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez and Tebow is must-see. Pair up that trio of semi-talented-yet-wonderfully-bad quarterbacks with the light-speed Chip Kelly attack?

How could you look away?

I had the good fortune to meet Coach Kelly in 2010 when he was still at Oregon, as he visited the aircraft carrier on which I was stationed. After his two-day stay, he took what he'd learned and turned the Ducks into the nation's top-ranked team after installing his "everyone just do your job" hyper-offense. I like to think the U.S. Navy is directly responsible for his promotion to the NFL, and expect a thank you card in the mail any day now. 

In any case, the Eagles will run more plays than anyone in the league by a huge margin, allowing their defense to get gassed against even a semi-competent opposing offense, allowing for more ridiculous games like this one:


My apologies for the poor quality, but you get the point; the Eagles will score a lot of points with whomever they put under center. Or, conversely, they'll be a constant media circus and be terrible.

Either way, watchable!

1. Denver Broncos

Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of his generation. Feel free to debate that in the comments, but it's certainly my opinion. The idea that either the Colts or Broncos ever paid anyone as an "offensive coordinator" is beyond me, as everyone on the planet knows Manning does exactly whatever the hell he wants once he surveys the defense.

The Broncos hired Gary Kubiak to play their offensive coordinator this season, and everyone I've seen is wondering what "The Kubiak System" (emphasis on running the ball, throwing to his lost-puppy tight end Owen Daniels) will do to Manning's production.

Here's how that conversation went, folks:

Manning: Good afternoon, coach.
Kubiak: Good afternoon, Mr. Manning, sir.
Manning: Tight ends, eh? Ever hear of Julius Thomas?
Kubiak: Yes, Mr. Manning, sir. He's suffering in Florida now. I brought you Owen Daniels, though! He's been so good in my offense he's literally never played for any other coordinator!
Manning: I suppose that will suffice for my needs. Now leave my chambers.
Kubiak: *kneels*

Manning will check, audible, change hot routes and do more football processing than an Xbox One in the time it takes for the rest of us to crack open a craft beer. He's an artist, a genius, and when he does make mistakes, they're pretty epically bad.

This is all discounting the level of talent around Manning, of course; Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, C.J. Anderson in the backfield and Cody Latimore in the slot should provide plenty of highlight plays.

However, the ultimate football artist, much like the world's greatest performers in other media, need to be watched live to appre ciate their true talent. Wouldn't you have given anything to watch Picasso storm around after a mis-stroke on one of his paintings? We're lucky enough to see at least one Manning Face per week, and for that, I say "God Bless America."

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

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