In the modern NFL, it seems the key to success rests on having an explosive offense.
There’s little reason to doubt that having an explosive offense won’t be integral to playing for the Lombardi come February 2024.
Here’s a look at which offenses have the chance to be the top-10 most explosive in the NFL during the 2023 season:
1) Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles return the MVP runner-up, Jalen Hurts, and prolific weapons such as wide receivers A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith, along with dynamic pass-catching tight end Dallas Goedert. Not only does Philadelphia return loads of star power on offense, but the Eagles also added a pair of versatile running backs in D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny to an already explosive offense over the offseason.
Last season, the Eagles finished second in points per game, while producing 107 explosive passing plays with 44 explosive runs, and that’s with Hurts missing two games due to a shoulder injury.
Given the combination of Hurts’, and his continued improvement as his career has progressed, an electrifying supporting cast, and arguably the game’s most dominant offensive line, the Eagles’ offense has all the ingredients to launch a historic 2023 season.
2) Miami Dolphins
Few things are more dangerous in the NFL than speed, and the Dolphins have it all over the place on offense.
Last season, only the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills had a higher Yards per Play average than the Dolphins’ 6.0.
Meanwhile, with Tyreek Hill entering his second season in head coach Mike McDaniel’s scheme, and Jaylen Waddle his third NFL season, there might not be a more dynamic receiving duo in the league this fall.
Perhaps the only thing that held the Dolphins’ offense in check last season was quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s battle with multiple concussions that cost him four games in 2022. If Tagovailoa can stay healthy, the Dolphins have all the pieces to be one of the more difficult offenses to defend in the entire league.
3) Kansas City Chiefs
The 2022 season, and the departure of Tyreek Hill, were proof positive that so long as Patrick Mahomes is the Chiefs’ quarterback, Kansas City’s offense is going to be among the most explosive in the sport.
For Mahomes and Co. this season, the question will become whether the offense can build on a campaign that saw the Chiefs lead the league in scoring and Yards per Play, or if the rest of the league can find some way to neutralize the likes of receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling?
It would be a fool’s errand to bet against the Chiefs, especially as running back Isiah Pacheco enters his second season, and general manager Brett Veach sunk significant resources into beefing up the offensive line in front of Mahomes.
4) Cincinnati Bengals
Joe Burrow remains one of the most clutch quarterbacks in the NFL today, boasting a balanced and deeply explosive supporting cast, and the Bengals went out and added elite offensive tackle Orlando Brown and consistent pass-catching tight end Irv Smith. Cincinnati isn’t going anywhere.
While the Bengals were only middle of the pack in total explosive plays in 2022, only seven teams averaged more than Cincinnati’s 26.1 points per game, and Ja’Marr Chase’s ability to both take the top off a defense as well as turn a routine screen play into a double-digit gain are the hallmark of this offense.
Burrow is still ascending. Each year that Burrow and Chase get to play together it seems this duo becomes more prolific. That’s bad news for the rest of the league.
5) Buffalo Bills
A crucial key to making the upper echelon of this list is boasting a prolific quarterback-receiver duo, and the combination of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs remains one of the game’s most explosive.
Buffalo finished the 2022 campaign second in Yards Per Play Average, second in scoring, and Allen led the seventh-most prolific passing offense in the NFL, averaging 258.1 yards per game. Diggs was a critical factor in the Bills’ offensive success, averaging 13.2 Yards per Catch, and 3.9 Yards After the Catch per reception, with Allen posting a nearly perfect 124.3 passer rating on his 149 targets.
The problem for the Bills, at least down the stretch, has been this offense tends to devolve into boom-or-bust territory, and in order to take the next step toward winning a championship, more depth of explosiveness and consistency will be key.
6) Seattle Seahawks
Few teams have done a better job of collecting dynamic talent at the wide receiver position in recent years than the Seahawks, and if Geno Smith is able to build on a stellar 2022 campaign, this is going to be a team to watch in 2023.
Seattle has clearly prioritized explosiveness at receiver, selecting dynamic former Ohio State Buckeye Jaxon Smith-Jjigba in the first round of April’s draft, after already boasting Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. The pair of Seattle veterans combined for 2,081 yards with 15 touchdowns last season. Throw in Kenneth Walker dashing to a 1,050-yard and 9-touchdown campaign, and this offense is nightmare fuel for opposing defensive coordinators.
7) Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys‘ season ended with a whimper in San Francisco, one of the more bizarre play designs you’ll ever see, on the final play of the NFC Divisional Playoff Game. But, thanks to some marquee additions, Dallas aims to light up the scoreboard and dictate to opposing defenses in 2023.
Dallas stole Brandin Cooks for a song (a fifth-round pick, in a trade with the Houston Texans), and the savvy speedster could be an ideal complement to CeeDee Lamb the Cowboys lacked last season. Meanwhile, Tony Pollard taking on an expanded role in the backfield alongside reliable veteran Ronald Jones should create opportunities for more explosive runs.
Last season, Pollard had 31 explosive runs. If he can return to form following a fractured fibula, it will give the Cowboys’ offense a major boost.
8) New York Jets
On paper, the Jets have all the trappings of an offense that could emerge as one of the league’s most explosive; Aaron Rodgers’ arrival at quarterback, Garrett Wilson blossoming in his second NFL season, Breece Hall returning from a torn ACL … But, some inside the league are skeptical that this team is ready to take flight.
“Are we wholly sure the Jets will be that explosive,” an AFC South Scout told Heavy. “Aaron isn’t known for taking risks downfield, which is where the explosive plays come from, and Hall is coming off an ACL. Aaron may be the most risk-averse great quarterback out there.”
To the scout’s point, Rodgers finished 2022 ranked 18th in the NFL in Air Yards per Attempt, averaging just 3.9, and it remains to be seen if Hall can return to his dynamic form immediately post-injury. The Jets will undoubtedly be better, might compete for a playoff berth — or more, but it remains to be seen if the hype around this offense being more explosive is merited.
9) Los Angeles Chargers
Will this be the season, with Kellen Moore arriving as offensive coordinator, that Justin Herbert leads the Chargers on a charge to the upper echelon of the AFC?
Los Angeles certainly has the weapons; first-round pick Quentin Johnston rounds out an embarrassment of riches at receiver, alongside Mike Williams (14.2 Yards per Reception) and Keenan Allen (11.8 Yards per reception), with touchdown-maker Austin Ekeler in the backfield.
Giving Herbert, and his mammoth arm, more weapons is a sound strategy. Versatility in target share should help this offense light up the scoreboard in 2023.
10) Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens took care of Lamar Jackson this offseason, and not just by making him the highest-paid quarterback in league history.
Baltimore made a big splash by signing veteran field-stretcher Odell Beckham Jr. and also drafted speedster Zay Flowers, who averaged 15.3 Yards per Reception over the course of his collegiate career at Boston College. While Mark Andrews remains, as a prolific red-zone weapon and security blanket over the middle for Jackson, added speed on the perimeter should allow Jackson to take advantage of the deep ball more often in 2023.