5 highest-graded NFL offenses this season

PFF founder Neil Hornsby breaks down the top five offenses through Week 10 according to Pro Football Focus' grades.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

5 highest-graded NFL offenses this season

Through 10 weeks of the NFL season, let’s dive into the highest-graded offenses thus far.

1. Arizona Cardinals

Passing Receiving Rushing Pass blocking Run blocking
1st 1st 32nd 22nd 4th

It must be frightening for defensive coordinators to get consistent pressure on a quarterback, only to see him consistently find his receivers deep on pinpoint passes. That’s the issue with playing the current Cardinals team; they have receivers who can get open (or win contested balls) and a passer in Carson Palmer who can find them—despite sub-optimal pass protection. No one is better in the 10–19 yard range, where they are 67-of-90 for 1,015 yards, nine touchdowns, and only one interception—a QB rating of 139.8.

Don’t get suckered in by the Chris Johnson hype, though. His stats say he’s doing well, but that’s really his line. He’s getting what he’s been given (a third-most 2.26 yards before contact) and not a lot else.

2. New England Patriots

Passing Receiving Rushing Pass blocking Run blocking
2nd 2nd T-10th 25th 3rd

Very similar to the Cardinals in many ways, quarterback Tom Brady is putting on a superlative performance despite a poor pass blocking O-line that serves much better run blocking. To cope, the Patriots utilize a much quicker, more horizontal passing attack to neutralize the issues posed by their young line.

In addition, their runners are also doing well. They’ve broken 46 tackles on 213 attempts, and fumbled only once; by way of comparison, the Arizona backs have broken 30 tackles on 255 attempts while fumbling six times. 

3. Atlanta Falcons

Passing Receiving Rushing Pass blocking Run blocking
T-3rd 3rd 18th 11th 5th

To understand how the Falcons find themselves this high, we must look back to the beginning of the season. They started like a house on fire, but have slowed markedly, not topping 21 points the last four games against teams ranked 29th, 11th, 31st, and 24th in defense. I’ve always been a huge fan of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who has usually done well with far less than this, so I’m predicting a blip—but who knows. Ultimately, a receiver not named Julio Jones will have to step up.

They’ll also need RB Tevin Coleman to improve. After a decent start, he’s averaged only 0.8 yards after contact the last five weeks.

4. Oakland Raiders

Passing Receiving Rushing Pass blocking Run blocking
6th 18th 17th 1st 10th

If the 2014 Dallas Cowboys were a great argument for having a fine offensive line, consider the 2015 Raiders as an addenda to that report. Derek Carr is currently the least-pressured QB in football, and they are averaging a healthy 5.0 yards per carry through the “A” and “B” gaps.

A special word here for WR Michael Crabtree, who looks to be back to his 2012 best, with a league 14th-ranked 2.08 yards per route run and only three drops.

Overall, they are a solid group, but they could get better by shifting snaps from TE Mychal Rivera to rookie Clive Walford, who, after a slow start, has the look of a quality all-round player.

5. Cincinnati Bengals

Passing Receiving Rushing Pass blocking Run blocking
T-3rd 4th T-10th 9th 9th

Okay, so if you’d only seen MNF this week, you’d wonder if I need to visit an optometrist. However, the Cincinnati offense is a group with no real weaknesses that sometimes you just wish would simply line up and play football. I’m of the school of thought that says OC Hue Jackson’s offensive wrinkles (three-man offensive lines with tackles outside with the wide receivers, etc.) are better left to teams that need that sort of obfuscation to compete. There are times you look at the wealth of talent they have and think it slows them down more than it does the opposition.

Can they bounce back—in prime time, once more—against the high-flying Cardinals? They’ll certainly need to show more than they did against Houston for the Patriots to consider them little more than a speed bump on the way to AFC domination.

| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

  • Lenny

    I think combo Ellington, David Johnson and CJ is better than 32nd in rushing. CJ does have yards after contact even if you subtract the 60 yards he had after sitting on a guy and everyone on the play stopping besides him (Still impressive). #ComplainingWithNumberOneRanking

  • crosseyedlemon

    I guess the obvious question is what kind of grades would PFF be giving Palmer and Brady if they had pass protection.

    • Brit

      I believe they factor that into their grades.

      • Sam Doohan

        Also worth noting that the best passing QBs are the most likely to get blitzed which pushes down their overall pass protection grades. More aggressive pressure equals a harder time for the line even before injuries etc.

        • crosseyedlemon

          If PFF is going to penalize Chris Johnson because the OL is doing an excellent job of run blocking then they need to be consistent and apply that approach to the QB position as well. That would mean that both Palmer and Brady would see their grades drop as their pass blocking improves which seems to lack some logic in my mind.

          • Bryan

            The logic to the grading goes something like this – as a running back, if there is an unblocked defender and you make him miss, you grade positively. If you don’t make unblocked defenders miss, you grade negatively. Thus, the comment about blocking is meant to highlight the fact that Johnson hasn’t been winning one on one, he simply has good stats because holes are there. A QB on the other hand, grades positively when they complete a pass under pressure. Thus, Brady and Palmer get bumps for performing against unblocked defenders. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they would grade lower if they had no pressure, because they could still perform against no pressure (Derek Carr).

          • crosseyedlemon

            Thanks for the explanation Bryan but penalizing a rusher because he doesn’t have defenders to dodge seems rather silly. I suppose a rusher could avoid the clear path and reverse his direction into traffic to get better grades but he would probably get benched by his coaches for being that dumb.

  • samuel bloch

    No Pittsburgh?

    • anon76returns

      Maybe about 3 injuries ago.

      • Pete

        Maybe about 3 seasons ago…

    • Sam Doohan

      They’re counting every game played, not just with Big Ben, not just with Bell. Ben’s still a top QB, Browns still the top wideout but two games of Mike Vick and a little Landry mixed in too kinda knocks them out of contention, sadly, for this kind of cumulative title.

  • Mike Riley

    Sadly because of their defense allowing 30 ppg it seems every week, Oakland’s 4th overall ranking offensively is not nearly enough to get it done.

    • Sam Doohan

      I guess we’ll see how they play down the stretch but even if their D can’t get it done it’s good to see the Raiders turn it around. It’s been depressing to see a team with such a long and awesome history be a joke in the league.

  • Mark Erickson

    I’m assuming you’re referring to Devonta Freeman, not Tevin Coleman in your assessment of the Atlanta Falcons offense. Not just going to write to nit-pick though, good information throughout the article!

  • Jesse

    Oakland has made a compete turnaround from last year’s dead last offense, with Carr making the most of the talent around him. If the wr’s could get their drops problem under control, they would be really lethal. And to think, ppl used to laugh when I said Oakland would have a high powered offense with Carr, Cooper, Crabtree, and Murray. Well look who’s laughing now….actually, I was laughing then too, at their ignorance, amongst other things.

  • JT

    The Falcons isn’t the no.3 offense in the league…..just no.

    • JT


  • Ryan Crinnigan

    Why is yards after contact so necessary? If they’re reeling off big runs, whether it’s RB effort or O-line, who cares? Find it very hard to believe ARI is the worst rushing team in the league.

  • Scott West

    Pats have had, and will continue to have, a schedule packed with top defenses. Meanwhile they face no offenses of note the rest of the season, with this week’s Bills being the most dangerous (which is saying something). The resiliency of the Pats offense against excellent defenses has been incredible the last few years. They’ll have a young, deep, top five defense themselves before the year is out; if their offense stays on schedule, and recalibrates without Lewis and Edelman (and they have the depth in skill players to do so), and the line stays healthy, they’ll be one of the most dominant teams going into the playoffs in years.

    • Pete

      The Patriots already are the most dominant team going forward with the highest scoring passing offense at 33 ppg (#1)…second highest scoring offense….Ranked #2 in run defense…their Achilles heal is the passing D that is now coming into their own heading towards the playoffs…