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The Schein Nine

Top nine NFL offenses in 2023: AFC well represented in rankings, but surprise NFC team earns No. 1 spot

There's no shortage of offense in the NFL these days, with potent, high-flying units putting the fun in Sunday Funday. So, which teams figure to field the most explosive attacks in 2023? Well, that's what I'm here to explore in this edition of the Schein Nine.

Before we dive into the crème de la crème, though, let me touch on a few potential point-scoring machines that just missed the cut in my rankings.

The Baltimore Ravens have a new offensive coordinator and an influx of juice at the receiver position. Consequently, Lamar Jackson could enjoy his best season yet as a passer. But this offense doesn't make my list. If only my last name rhymed with 10 ...

Meanwhile, the Miami Dolphins are a brilliantly coached track team, but you won't find them below. And I love the Detroit Lions, from savvy offensive coordinator Ben Johnson to resurgent quarterback Jared Goff to dynamic rookie Jahmyr Gibbs. They were close, but no cigar.

Four more teams received serious consideration for this rundown -- the Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks and Pittsburgh Steelers -- but ultimately remained on the cutting room floor.

In a points-happy league, this is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. So, without further ado, it's time to reveal my pecking order of the top nine offenses for the 2023 NFL campaign. And yes, we're going countdown style here, because I think you'll be surprised by No. 1.

Los Angeles Chargers
2022 Points: 13th | Yards: 9th

I helped build the Justin Herbert bandwagon with my own bare hands early in 2020. Never understood all the questions surrounding the Oregon product in that pre-draft process. Herbert's a stud quarterback seemingly built in a lab, with his size, arm strength, accuracy and athleticism. No wonder he's thrown for the most yards (14,089) and second-most touchdowns (94, behind only Dan Marino's 98) over a player's first three seasons in NFL history. And with that as the backdrop, the best is yet to come!

In his age-25 season, Herbert is about to take another big step forward under the watchful eye of Kellen Moore, who represented a major upgrade at offensive coordinator for the Chargers. I can't wait to see what Moore does with the Bolts' collection of weapons. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams remain one of the best receiving duos in the league, and I dig Los Angeles' up-and-comers at the position: third-year pro Josh Palmer and first-round pick Quentin Johnston. Running back Austin Ekeler is a prolific scorer, having paced the league in touchdowns in each of the past two seasons. And on top of all that, left tackle Rashawn Slater's return from injury re-balances the offensive line -- no small thing when it comes to protecting the franchise player in the No. 10 jersey.

Dallas Cowboys
2022 Points: 4th | Yards: 11th

After a rough 2022 campaign, Dak Prescott will return to form, flirting with 40 touchdown passes and significantly lowering his interception total. I just lauded Kellen Moore in the Chargers blurb and really do believe he's a fine OC, but I don't mind his departure from Dallas. That's because I'm a big Mike McCarthy fan, and thus, support him taking the play-calling reins. Don't believe what you've heard elsewhere -- McCarthy's a legit offensive guru and quarterback savant. And obviously, McCarthy and Moore weren't always on the same page. One voice for Dak is a terrific development.

Another big offseason change: The addition of Brandin Cooks. While Dallas already had a stud WR1 in CeeDee Lamb, the 2022 Cowboys lacked a Robin to the Pro Bowler's Batman. Cooks -- a speedy, 10th-year pro with six 1,000-yard seasons under his belt -- is perfect for that role. And if Michael Gallup is all the way back from his January 2022 ACL tear? Watch out!

The offensive line isn't as dominant as it used to be, but Jerry Jones rightfully ended Zack Martin's holdout with a raise. And second-year pro Tyler Smith has immense upside, wherever the Cowboys line him up.

New York Jets
2022 Points: 29th | Yards: 25th

Judging by last year's rankings, this offense is easily the most surprising group on this list. Obviously, though, the new quarterback changes everything.

You all know my line by now: Aaron Rodgers is the most talented quarterback ever. I expect him to elevate EVERYONE. Yes, including those on the Jets' questionable offensive line. I'm not worried about that. Rodgers didn't always have an impenetrable fortress surrounding him in Green Bay, and he racked up four MVPs. With his computer processing ability and quick release, Rodgers is the O-line's best friend.

Rodgers' weaponry on the new roster isn't too shabby, either, beginning with reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson. Despite the Jets' lackluster quarterback play in 2022, Wilson caught 83 balls for 1,103 yards. With Rodgers under center? Put him down for 100 catches and 1,600 yards. Beyond Wilson, the Jets have a nice collection of varying skill sets in the pass-catching group. Corey Davis' sudden retirement hurts the depth a bit, but it seemed like his role had been diminishing anyway.

At running back, Breece Hall was in the early driver's seat for Offensive Rookie of the Year before tearing his ACL last October. Now he's back in action, with Rodgers marveling at his explosiveness. The signing of Dalvin Cook, who has eclipsed 1,100 yards rushing in each of the past four seasons, is the insane cherry on top.

Cincinnati Bengals
2022 Points: 7th | Yards: 8th

For the sake of this conversation, I'm assuming Joe Burrow (calf) will indeed be healthy and ready to go next month. If that's the case, he's a top-two quarterback/MVP candidate. With that out of the way ...

Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are my favorite 1-2 receiver punch in the league. Chase is the total package, possessing special chemistry with Burrow. And Higgins should be referred to as the Bengals' WR1b -- calling him a WR2 is wrong, as evidenced by his back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. And no disrespect to Tyler Boyd, who gives Cincinnati the kind of 11 personnel you only dream of.

Beyond the stellar wide receivers, here's another huge factor: With Orlando Brown Jr. now manning the blind side, this could be the best offensive line Burrow's had in Cincy.

Jacksonville Jaguars
2022 Points: 10th | Yards: 10th

I don't want to hear anyone saying this is too high. Are you really going to doubt Trevor Lawrence?

Viewed as a generational prospect since leading Clemson to a national title as a true freshman, Lawrence's highly anticipated rookie campaign fell victim to the Urban Meyer debacle. But under the watchful eye of Doug Pederson last season, the quarterback emerged as a Pro Bowler. The 2022 Jaguars entered November at 2-6, but Lawrence carried Jacksonville to seven wins in their final nine games, posting sparkling figures (15:2 TD-to-INT ratio and 104.6 passer rating) in the process. That torrid finish gave the Jags the AFC South title, and in the playoffs, Lawrence and Co. erased a 27-point deficit to shock the Chargers. That was the breakthrough for Lawrence -- those final three months of Year 2. I can't wait to see what Year 3 holds, especially given Jacksonville's roster improvements.

The two offensive additions that excite me the most: WR Calvin Ridley and RB Tank Bigsby. Trading for Ridley last October, while the wide receiver was serving a season-long suspension, looks like a masterstroke right now. Still in his prime at age 28, the former second-team All-Pro has been turning heads throughout the offseason. He's a true No. 1 wideout who's about to make beautiful music with Lawrence. Bigsby, a third-round pick in April's draft, already looks like a perfect fit in this offense as the thunder to Travis Etienne's lightning.

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 Points: 3rd | Yards: 3rd

Jalen Hurts is a special runner, thrower and -- above all -- leader. Last year's breakout season, when Hurts finished as the MVP runner-up and nearly bested Patrick Mahomes with a spectacular effort in the Super Bowl, was just the beginning. Given the way Hurts goes about his business -- and given the talent flanking him in Philadelphia -- this is a rocket ship soaring to the stars. All aboard!

General manager Howie Roseman has absolutely set up his young quarterback for success. Philadelphia boasts the best offensive line in football. The Eagles also have an argument for the best receiving duo (A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith), as well as a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end (Dallas Goedert). The offense lost 1,200-yard rusher Miles Sanders in free agency, but the Eagles should be just fine in the backfield, possessing a bevy of capable options that includes Philly native D'Andre Swift. I loved that draft-weekend move from "Trader Howie."

Buffalo Bills
2022 Points: 2nd | Yards: 2nd

Josh Allen is a special, special player. Regular Schein Nine readers know I've touted the 6-foot-5, 237-pounder's tools since he entered the league. And over the past three seasons, Allen has disabused all remaining haters of the notion that he's a pile of unreliable traits, carrying Buffalo to three straight AFC East titles. Bills Mafia has seen a quarterback reach 35 touchdown passes just three times in franchise history: Josh Allen in 2020 (37), Josh Allen in 2021 (36) and Josh Allen in 2022 (35).

Of course, Allen's ascendance to superstardom coincided with Stefon Diggs' arrival in Buffalo. Over the past three years with the Bills, Diggs has averaged 113 catches for 1,396 yards and 10 touchdowns. The man is a true WR1, and his supporting cast is nothing to scoff at, either, with a much healthier Gabe Davis, first-round pick Dalton Kincaid and ol' reliable Dawson Knox. Buffalo's 12 personnel packages are going to eat up opposing defenses in 2023. I also like that James Cook is taking over as the team's lead back, having already spotlighted him earlier this summer as a breakout candidate in Year 2.

Buffalo has ranked top five in scoring offense and total offense over each of the past three seasons. Nothing changes this fall.

Kansas City Chiefs
2022 Points: 1st | Yards: 1st

Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the game today, already an all-time great. Speaking of which, Travis Kelce is putting together a compelling argument to be considered the greatest tight end in history. And of course, Andy Reid is a Hall of Fame coach, one of the most innovative offensive architects we've ever seen. When these three men join forces, scoreboards light up.

Don't make the mistake of worrying about Kansas City's lack of star power or depth at receiver. I did that last year, ranking the Chiefs eighth on this list, and they responded by leading the league in points and yards en route to a Super Bowl title.

Many of you are undoubtedly shocked that I don't have K.C. in the No. 1 slot today. That's fair, but hear me out ...

San Francisco 49ers
2022 Points: 6th | Yards: 5th

That's right. A Brock Purdy-led offense will top the board in 2023. Purdy is a perfect fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense. The only question this offseason has been his health following elbow surgery back in March. Well, he made his preseason debut against the Denver Broncos last weekend, and in one drive, the second-year pro completed four of his five passes for 65 yards, adding an 8-yard scramble for good measure. Granted, Purdy got some YAC help from his playmaking friends, but still, the head coach liked what he saw.

"I thought he did real good," Shanahan told reporters following the game. "All the plays that he had, he made -- and I don't think he had a bad one."

Last year at this time, Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant. Now, he's The Guy. It's a totally different mindset for him, and I anticipate his second NFL season will end in a totally different manner than his first. Purdy's inspiring rookie campaign came to a depressing close, with the quarterback rendered useless by the elbow injury during San Francisco's 31-7 loss at Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game. This time around, Purdy leads the 49ers to the Super Bowl. And shoot, even if Purdy is sidelined by injury or ineffectiveness, I've already expressed my immense confidence in Sam Darnold. The former No. 3 overall pick finally finds himself in an environment that's conducive to success.

It all begins with Shanahan, one of the preeminent offensive minds in the game today. Even with inferior personnel, this cat could scheme up points through raw savvy -- I'm sure of that. But here's the thing: San Francisco does not have inferior personnel -- the 49ers ooze supreme talent and depth at the skill positions.

This will be Christian McCaffrey's first full season in San Francisco. He's already the best all-around back in football, as we saw when he piled up 1,509 scrimmage yards and 13 total touchdowns in 14 games with the Niners last season (including the playoffs). Wait until Shanahan fully unleashes the versatile weapon after spending all offseason in the lab. And Run CMC's not the only rushing/receiving dynamo on this roster! Deebo Samuel admitted this summer that he didn't enter the 2022 campaign in the right state -- physically or mentally -- and vows to make up for an "awful" season. A highly motivated Deebo is a frightening proposal for would-be tacklers. The Brandon Aiyuk buzz has been building throughout the summer -- could this be his first Pro Bowl season? Oh, and I've yet to even mention George Kittle -- you know, the second-best tight end in football today? The offensive line has a few question marks, but I trust Shanahan to game plan around them. Not to mention, Trent Williams remains the top tackle in the game.

San Francisco's defense finished atop the NFL in 2022. I expect the offense to follow suit in 2023.

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