The Most Overrated and Underrated Offenses In 2018
Over/unders are often overlooked in the point-spread-obsessed world of football betting. But throughout the 2018 NFL regular season, we’ll be breaking down totals and making predictions regarding which games are most likely to go over or under on a weekly basis.
With that in mind, it might make sense to establish a feel for which offenses are overrated and underrated heading into 2018. Oddsmakers and the betting public will eventually catch on, but information like this could theoretically be valuable early on.
Overrated: San Francisco 49ers: There’s a lot of hype here, but that’s dangerous. Even if you’re buying Jimmy Garoppolo just seven starts into his career (and you’re certainly allowed to have your doubts about him), it’s fair to question his supporting cast. The receiving corps lacks depth and overall talent, top back Jerick McKinnon averaged just 3.6 yards per carry the last two years in Minnesota and they lack a proven starting tight end. The offensive line isn’t bad, but there’s also a chance the rest of the league will solve Jimmy and Co. out in 2018.
Underrated: Detroit Lions: It doesn’t feel as though a lot of folks view Detroit’s offense as an elite unit, but only six teams outscored the Lions last season and quarterback Matthew Stafford is entering his prime coming off the best season of his career. They’ve slowly been building up their line in recent years, the receiving corps is deep and talented and rookie back Kerryon Johnson has the ability to make them a lot more balanced than in recent years. This could be a top-five offense in 2018.
Overrated: New England Patriots: The Pats had the highest-scoring offense in the AFC last season, but you do have to wonder if Father Time will eventually get the best of Tom Brady. And while we’ll probably regret going out on this limb because Brady might not be human, this could be the year the Patriots come back to earth on that side of the ball. There are major questions on Brady’s blind side following the loss of stalwart left tackle Nate Solder, Julian Edelman is facing a four-game suspension and Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are all gone. New England’s offense should still be good, but it might not be as elite as it was in years past.
Underrated: Chicago Bears: Did you see what new Bears head coach Matt Nagy did with Alex Smith in Kansas City? Now Nagy will get his hands on intriguing second-year No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky under center, and both Nagy and Trubisky will have plenty of weapons with the accomplished Allen Robinson, the speedy Taylor Gabriel and the high-potential Trey Burton joining the fray. Chicago had the fourth-lowest-scoring offense in the NFL last season, but don’t be surprised if the Bears wind up in some shootouts in 2018.
Overrated: Philadelphia Eagles: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson told NBC’s Peter King this week that he sees “a little hesitation” in Philly franchise quarterback Carson Wentz, which is at least mildly concerning considering that the 2017 MVP candidate is coming off a major knee injury. Sure, backup Nick Foles shined while leading the team to a championship in place of Wentz last year, but Foles is streaky and his receiving corps isn’t deep beyond Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. Watch for last year’s third-highest-scoring offense to regress a little closer to the mean in 2018.
Underrated: Atlanta Falcons: Let’s not hold last season’s Super Bowl hangover against the Falcons, who led the league in scoring in 2016 but fell to the middle of the pack in 2017. That was also their first year in offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian’s system, and it’s pretty common for offenses to struggle under those circumstances. Matt Ryan is still a former MVP and Julio Jones is one of the best receivers in the game. Look for the team to do a better job utilizing Jones in what should be a bounce-back season offensively in Atlanta.
Overrated: Jacksonville Jaguars: There’s naturally a lot of hype surrounding the Jaguars after their breakout 2017 season, but that’s all about the defense. Running back Leonard Fournette struggled as a rookie (his numbers were inflated by a few long-distance runaway touchdowns), the offensive line is still somewhat of a work in progress, the receiving corps is shallow and they’re still putting all of their eggs in Blake Bortles’ basket at quarterback. Bortles made some progress last season but still hasn’t put together a solid NFL season. There’s a chance this won’t be a top-five scoring offense again in 2018.
Underrated: Denver Broncos: Denver had the league’s sixth-lowest-scoring offense last season, but the Broncos’ team passer rating ranked 31st in football. With new quarterback Case Keenum on board, Denver now possessed the league’s seventh-highest-rated passer from 2017. Throw in that starting receiver Emmanuel Sanders is healthier and rookie back Royce Freeman appears ready to play a major role right away and the Broncos could score a lot more points than expected in 2018.
Overrated: New York Giants: The football world is abuzz over what Giants Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham could bring to the table as an offensive duo in 2018, and an oft-criticized offensive line should also be better with Nate Solder and Will Hernandez on board. That being said, the Giants still need quarterback Eli Manning to make his throws. Manning was the league’s eighth-lowest-qualified passer last season, and the 37-year-old hasn’t put together a solid year since 2015. Even with Barkley, Beckham, Solder and Hernandez, this might still be a mediocre offense in 2018.
Underrated: Cleveland Browns: The Browns had the lowest-scoring offense in football last season, but this is an entirely different unit entering 2018. Tyrod Taylor is the most competent and reliable quarterback they’ve had in years, Jarvis Landry is a proven receiver and Corey Coleman, Nick Chubb, David Njoku and Baker Mayfield all have a lot of potential. Throw in Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson and there’s a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball in Cleveland, for the first time in a long time.