Every sports fan has heard the cliché that offense wins games, defense wins championships. This was certainly true for the 2015 Denver Broncos who were able to win it all despite the combination of one aging and one young quarterback. An offense in the NFL is only as good as their trio at quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. A great quarterback needs solid receivers to get the ball to and also has to rely on the run to setup the pass.
Looking back on the history of the NFL, many people consider the best trio, or triplets, to be QB Troy Aikman, RB Emmitt Smith, and WR Michael Irvin from the multiple time Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys. Some have started to compare the modern day triplets of Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dez Bryant from the 2016 season to that classic trio, but where do the Cowboys even rank compared to other teams’ trios today?
32 Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler, Jeremy Langford, and Alshon Jeffery
Once again the Chicago Bears are who we thought they were, and that is that they're not a very good team. Veteran quarterback Jay Cutler always seems to be getting injured which allowed journeyman Brian Hoyer to step in after being booted from the Texans last season. That only lasted until Hoyer broke his arm and the Bears hope Cutler will be back soon otherwise they will have to turn to a third string QB. Youngster Jeremy Langford has assumed the team’s running back duties after long time Bear Matt Forte left for the Jets, but was also injured and replaced by Jordan Howard. Alshon Jeffery is a solid wide receiver but has not performed well because the quarterbacks simply have not gotten him the ball enough. This offensive trio has some talent but are certainly among the worst group of triplets in the NFL. They need a better defense and getting some more help on the offensive line would also help them win some more games.
31 Los Angeles Rams
Case Keenum, Todd Gurley, and Tavon Austin
Fans in Los Angeles were very excited to learn that the Rams were moving back to LA from St. Louis. They may not be so excited about the team’s offensive weapons which are young players who do have talent but are not as stacked as many other teams at their positions. Quarterback Case Keenum has been alright but is just filling a spot until the #1 pick Jared Goff is ready to take over. Todd Gurley had a great rookie season and showed potential, and the wide receivers on this team are decent at best with Tavon Austin leading the way. When Goff becomes part of this trio it won’t be much better until he gets some experience under his belt. Hopefully by that time the Rams will get some better receivers and their triplets will be able to contend with other teams.
30 Cleveland Browns
Josh McCown, Isaiah Crowell, and Corey Coleman
The Cleveland Browns are the last team to remain winless in the 2016 season and have had major issues as they always seem to do. They started the season with Robert Griffin III at quarterback, but that lasted less than one game when he was once again injured. After that the Browns turned to veteran Josh McCown who also became injured. Cody Kessler has been starting but it appears that McCown is the guy at least for now. Running back Isaiah Crowell has shown flashes of talent but is still young and unproven as well as Corey Coleman at wide receiver. RB Duke Johnson and WR Terrelle Pryor may end up in this trio before long so it’s still hard to judge exactly where they’re at.
29 San Francisco 49ers
Colin Kaepernick, Carlos Hyde, and Torrey Smith
While Colin Kaepernick was making headlines on the sidelines, Blaine Gabbert started the 2016 season at quarterback for the 49ers and was unable to win under Chip Kelly’s new offense. Kaepernick got the job back but then got crushed by the Buffalo Bills partly thanks to their defensive giving up lots of points and not being able to score their own touchdowns. Carlos Hyde is a promising young running back, but wide receiver Torrey Smith is way past his prime. This trio is lacking a lot and the only bright spot is Hyde who could be around for quite some time. The 49ers need to rebuild and get some better offensive weapons if they want to be contenders in the tough NFC West division with Arizona and Seattle.
28 Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz, Ryan Mathews, and Jordan Matthews
The Philadelphia Eagles shocked a lot of people when they went 4-0 to start off the 2016 season. Rookie QB Carson Wentz wasn’t supposed to lead the team in the preseason but thanks to a trade he became the day one starter and hasn’t looked back. Ryan Mathews is an okay running back but failed in San Diego. Jordan Matthews is also not the best at the wide receiver position. Wentz needs more help around him and more weapons on offense before this team can really be a top contender in a competitive NFC East division. Most of their receivers are no-names but luckily the team does have RB Darren Sproles who can still make big plays every once in a while when he is called upon.
27 Denver Broncos
Trevor Siemian, C.J. Anderson, and Demaryius Thomas
The Denver Broncos have had a major shakeup at the quarterback position since winning the Super Bowl with Peyton Manning at QB. Many thought Brock Osweiler would lead the team but after he went to the Texans the Broncos had to scramble to figure out who would start. A three way competition resulted in Trevor Siemian take the reins, although rookie Paxton Lynch has already had to start one game due to injury. C.J. Anderson is a decent running back but he is not great, and the team rarely goes with just one guy at the position. Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is very talented but has really dropped off since Manning retired. This team will depend on its defense and the offense needs to get better quickly to be able to score enough points to get back in the playoffs.
26 Tennessee Titans
Marcus Mariota, DeMarco Murray, and Delanie Walker
The Tennessee Titans still have a ways to go before they can be competitive and taken seriously. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was used to winning at Oregon but was drafted by a losing franchise and has to get used to it. Running back DeMarco Murray was the best in the league a couple seasons ago and seems to be getting back on track now that is he paired with rookie RB Derrick Henry from Alabama. This tandem could become one of the best in the league soon, and the Titans would do well to focus heavily on the run. The team doesn’t have much at wide receiver and their best option seems to be tight end Delanie Walker who should not be in any team’s offensive trio if they want to be taken seriously.
25 Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill, Jay Ajayi, and Jarvis Landry
The best part of the Miami Dolphin’s offensive trio might just be the aging Arian Foster and he may not even be the best running back on the team. Ryan Tannehill is a decent game manager but he is never going to be a star and word has it that he could possibly be forced out at the QB position after the 2016 season. Foster made a name for himself in Houston but is nearing the end of his career and is often susceptible to injury. His backup Jay Ajayi had 2 big games in his absence and looks to have taken the job from Foster. Jarvis Landry is the best of a no-name list of wide receivers and doesn’t really give Tannehill a big enough weapon to move the ball and score enough points to contender with teams like the Patriots and Bills in the AFC East.
24 Minnesota Vikings
Sam Bradford, Jerick McKinnon, and Stefon Diggs
The Minnesota Vikings offensive trio looks a lot different now than it did before the 2016 season started. The injuries suffered by starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and starting running back and sure fire Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson seemed to be devastating to this team which was projected to be in the hunt for the playoffs. The Vikings acquired QB Sam Bradford and had to replace Peterson with the committee of Jerick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, and Ronnie Hillman. Stefon Diggs has been leading a corps of young receivers although he has been hurt as well. This trio doesn’t seem like it should be winning so many games but somehow the Vikings are getting the job done thanks in part to their defense and special teams.
23 Houston Texans
Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, and DeAndre Hopkins
The Houston Texans took a big gamble when they offered Brock Osweiler a big contract. Osweiler helped lead the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl in the 2015 season, although it was Peyton Manning who started the big game. While many thought Brock was poised to take over the Broncos offense, he ended up going to Houston where he would join the very young and talented wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Unfortunately these two have not been able to get on the same page in 2016, as Brock seems to have better chemistry with rookie WR Will Fuller. Even though they lost the very talented Arian Foster at running back, the Texans signed Lamar Miller who has done an admirable job. Once these triplets get on the same page they could be quite dangerous.
22 Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins, Matt Jones, and DeSean Jackson
The RGIII era officially failed in Washington and Kirk Cousins has taken over, even though some teammates are apparently not fans of his. Cousins is still unproven but has shown that he has talent. He doesn’t have much time left to prove himself because fans will become impatient and want someone else like Colt McCoy to take over. Matt Jones is a serviceable running back, but the team seems to cycle through them quite often. DeSean Jackson is still a talent receiver but it seems like we don’t hear about him anymore thanks in part to his low production numbers. Tight Jordan Reed has been one of the team’s best pass catches and the Redskins have been able to put together some nice wins, even winning the division in 2015.
21 Detroit Lions
Matthew Stafford, Theo Riddick, and Golden Tate
The Detroit Lions lost a future Hall of Fame wide receiver when Calvin Johnson retired. Luckily quarterback Matthew Stafford seems to be able to work with whoever he has at the wide receiver position, and the team is still able to score points quite frequently. Running back Theo Riddick is unproven and the team doesn’t really have anyone else to play that position since starter Ameer Abdullah was placed on IR. Golden Tate is the leader of the receiving corps although Marvin Jones is also up there with him in terms of talent. The Lions are an average team with a slightly below average trio of offensive weapons, but at least they have come a long way from their 0-16 season not too long ago.
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston, Doug Martin, and Mike Evans
The Tampa Bay Bucs have a talented young offensive trio, but they haven’t managed to do much as of yet. “Famous” Jameis Winston had a good rookie season winning Rookie of the Year honors, but his play does not seem to be consistent. Doug Martina A.K.A. “The Muscle Hamster”, seems to be injured more often than not which has hurt his potential at RB. WR Mike Evans had a great rookie season catching 12 touchdowns, but unfortunately those were thrown by Josh McCown and Mike Glennon and not Winston. He has worked on his drops and has become one of the premiere wide receivers in the league.
19 Baltimore Ravens
Joe Flacco, Terrance West, and Steve Smith Sr.
The Baltimore Ravens had a terrible season in 2015 thanks to injuries to several key players including quarterback Joe Flacco and Steve Smith Sr. Flacco is a former Super Bowl MVP and is a solid quarterback but certainly not one of the best in the NFL. Terrance West is the current running back but the team seems to have a revolving door at that position. The Ravens are led by Steve Smith Sr. who was scheduled to retire after last season before becoming injured and deciding to play for another year. This trio certainly has talent but won’t be together very long and with different RBs coming in and out of the offense it’s hard for them to develop much chemistry. After Smith their next best WR is Mike Wallace who is another aging veteran, but has definitely managed to step up his game.
18 Indianapolis Colts
Andrew Luck, Frank Gore, and T.Y. Hilton
Andrew Luck has often been praised for his football intelligence and ability to make big plays, but lately the Indianapolis Colts have had trouble winning games. Luck has had issues with injuries and the offensive line is less than stellar which has also caused many problems. Frank Gore is a veteran running back who has struggled in the offense, and the wide receivers are average at best, with T.Y. Hilton leading a group of younger WRs. Many people though Luck would become the league’s next golden boy like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but that may not be in the case unless he can get some more help on offensive. His massive contract has not helped matters as the team has even made comments about not having enough to pay for a solid offensive line.
17 Buffalo Bills
Tyrod Taylor, LeSean McCoy, and Sammy Watkins
Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills have a good young corps of offensive talent, but the nearly season ending injury to Sammy Watkins sure didn’t help them out this year. The good news is that Watkins didn’t require surgery and may be back by late November. Tyrod Taylor might not be an elite quarterback but he certainly can get the job done and run the offensive effectively. LeSean McCoy has had a career resurgence this year after joining the Bills last season. We don’t know how much Shady has left in his tank, so if Ryan can find a young running back this team could be set on offensive for a number of years to come. Taylor can also run and a healthy Watkins can be used for some wildcat type plays to keep defenses on their toes.
16 Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson, Christine Michaels, and Doug Baldwin
Sometimes it is tough to tell just how good the Seahawks are. We all know that Russell Wilson is a very talented quarterback, whether he chooses to scramble downfield or stay in the pocket and find the open man. Marshawn Lynch’s retirement left a big gap to fill and Thomas Rawls and Christine Michaels competed for that job in the preseason. Rawls has been injured which has led Michaels to be a part of the trio, although we still don’t really know how good he is. Doug Baldwin is a decent receiver, but will never be one of the top guys in the league. Without Wilson this trio would be pretty average, but somehow the Seahawks keep finding ways to win, thanks in part to their defense.
15 Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles, and Jeremy Maclin
The Kansas City Chiefs have been the playoff picture the past several years thanks in part to veteran quarterback Alex Smith. We know that Jamaal Charles is one of the best running backs in the league when healthy, but he has had trouble with that as of late. Luckily the Chiefs have some more than capable backup RBs on their team, and have been able to beat some of the best teams in the league year in and year out with the play of Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. WR Jeremy Maclin is not elite, but has the potential to catch a lot of balls and score touchdowns. Kansas City has had trouble finding wide receivers in the end zone the past few seasons, and hopefully for them Charles will be able to stay healthy for the foreseeable future.
14 San Diego Chargers
Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, and Antonio Gates
The San Diego Charges can score points in a hurry, but somehow they seem to lose close games quite frequently. Philip Rivers is a talented quarterback who racks up yards and touchdowns although his record might not be as good as his stats indicate. Running back Melvin Gordon is a young player with potential, but being behind so often means the Chargers throw the ball a lot more than they run it, but his pass-catching abilities have proven important for the team. Technically San Diego’s main wide receiver is Kennan Allen, who is out for the season putting the load on the shoulders of veteran and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. Who knows how long Gates has left in his career, and at some point the Chargers may want to shake up their offense if they can’t improve their defense or start winning more ballgames.
13 New York Jets
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Forte, and Brandon Marshall
The New York Jets have certainly been struggling this year, but it’s not for a lack of offensive talent. After having a solid season in 2015, veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has had a tough go of it in 2016, and was even benched for Geno Smith against the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football. Matt Forte is another veteran, who has had some good games at running back for the Jets. Brandon Marshall is still a top wide receiving talent in the league, but hasn’t always been able to deliver big when they need him. All three members of this trio are journeymen players who made names for themselves on other teams and have now joined together on the Jets. At the height of their careers they would have been ranked higher, but even now they still have the talent if they can starting putting it together.
12 New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees, Mark Ingram, and Brandin Cooks
Drew Brees is a sure fire Hall of Famer, but some thought the longtime Saints quarterback would see a decline thanks to his age. That has not really been in the case, and his offensive trio has been changed with the recent addition of Mark Ingram at running back and a young receiving corps led by Brandin Cooks. Brees can still light up the scoreboard in a hurry and usually has to thanks to the poor Saints defense. Ingram is a tough running back who can power his way past defenses so the team doesn’t have to rely solely on the passing game. Once Brees finally retires the team could be in some trouble and may have to change their identity and rely more on the run than the pass.
11 Jacksonville Jaguars
Blake Bortles, T.J. Yeldon, and Allen Robinson
The Jacksonville Jaguars have three very young capable offensive weapons at their disposal, but still have not been able to string a series of wins together. The Jags are one of those teams that many people are waiting for to break out, but they just haven’t done it yet. The combination of Blake Bortles to Allen Robinson can be highly effective, and throw in other weapons like Allen Hurns and the Jags can score points in a hurry. Running back T.J. Yeldon is yet unproven, but has been getting lots of work early in the 2016 season due to veteran RB Chris Ivory being injured. This may be good news for the Jags who need to get this trio on the same page so they can be around for many seasons to come.
10 Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, and Amari Cooper
All three of the Oakland Raiders’ offensive triplets are very young and talented. The combination of quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper could someday be legendary if the two can both stay healthy and continue to establish a tight connection. Carr has finally got the Raiders back to a winning franchise under head coach Jack Del Rio and his riverboat mentality, going for it on fourth down or for a two point conversion to win. Murray is a decent running back but has had to split time with a cast of other runners in the backfield. Cooper has been complemented by wide receiver Michael Crabtree who struggled with the 49ers before joining the Raiders. This trio may not stay intact, but the duo of Carr and Cooper just needs one more big piece at RB to be great.
9 Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton, Jeremy Hill, and A.J. Green
The Cincinnati Bengals have a lot of talent on offensive, but they have not been able to put together any playoff wins for quite some time now. Andy Dalton has been a solid quarterback, but will never be in that elite tier. Jeremy Hill is a good running back, but has had to share time with RB Giovanni Bernard. Wide receiver A.J. Green is the bright spot on this team but can only do so much. The Bengals seem to suffer from a lack of discipline which cost them a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs for the 2015 NFL season. These triplets are above average and are pretty consistent, but don’t quite stack up to some of the great trios in the league.
8 New York Giants
Eli Manning, Rashad Jennings, and Odell Beckham Jr.
It’s quite amazing how both Eli Manning and the New York Giants can look so good one week and so bad the next. Manning is a multiple time Super Bowl MVP and now arguably has his best wide receiver he has played with in Odell Beckham Jr. OBJ has been no stranger to controversy as of late, but certainly has the skills to be one of the best WRs in the game today. Rashad Jennings is the weak link of this trio, but is a serviceable running back. When Manning and Beckham are on the same page they are one of the deadliest QB and WR tandems in the NFL, and if they had a slightly better running back the Giants could be contenders to win another Super Bowl.
7 Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Greg Olsen
After almost going undefeated in 2015, the Carolina Panthers have certainly had some major problems this season and may have dug themselves in too deep of a hole to climb out of for any playoff chances. Quarterback Cam Newton was the NFL’s MVP in 2015 and can rack up major yardage both with his arm and with his legs. Jonathan Stewart is a solid running back but it seems like he has been in the league forever, and he no longer has his running mate DeAngelo Williams to take some of the load off his shoulders. While Kelvin Benjamin is a talent young receiver, their top WR is actually a TE in Greg Olsen who is also a wily veteran. This team has some big issues but is also one of the most talented in the NFL.
6 Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, and Jordy Nelson
The Packers have been a great team with lots of talent for many years. Cheeseheads must have been very sad when former QB Brett Favre changed teams and then retired, but the position was smoothly passed on to Rodgers who has never looked back. Eddie Lacy has been criticized for being overweight, and even after losing weight in the offseason still hasn’t seemed to play to his fullest potential. The Packers still have a great receiving core with Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb leading the corps. This season it seems that the Packers offense hasn’t been as effective as it used to be, with Rodgers having to tell the fan base once again to relax. This trio may still have some good years left as long as they can get things going back on the right track again.
5 Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, and Julio Jones
This season the Atlanta Falcons’ offense has really come to life, lighting up the scoreboard thanks to the trio of quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Devonta Freeman, and wide receiver Julio Jones. Ryan has been around for a while and has had some good and some not so good seasons. Devonta Freeman has the ability to break free for some big gainers, and has been helped by the 1-2 punch of his running mate Tevin Coleman. Julio Jones is a beast and is one of the best receivers in the league. This offense certainly has all the makings of a championship caliber team as long as they can all stay healthy and on the field. The real trick is for the Falcons to be able to outscore all the points their defense usually gives up.
4 Arizona Cardinals
Carson Palmer, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald
When running effectively, the Arizona Cardinals have one of the most effective offenses in the NFL, with the potential to score points on every single drive. Although two thirds of this trio is reaching the end of their careers, second year RB David Johnson is looking like one of the best players in the league at any position. Palmer and Fitzgerald have established a great chemistry over the years, and even with younger WRs looking for catches, Fitz continues to be the go-to receiver for the team. The Cardinals were the favorite to win it all this year before their rocky start, but with an offensive trio this good they can certainly hang in there with the best of teams week in and week out.
3 Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Dez Bryant
The fact that the Dallas Cowboys have one of the best trios in the NFL and two out of three of them are rookies should be very exciting for Dallas fans and scary for the rest of the league. Even though Dez Bryant has been injured for most of the season, Prescott has still managed to find other receivers and has even a record for most passes thrown without an interception for a rookie. Even if the Cowboys decide to pull Prescott in favor of veteran QB Tony Romo, the team is still loaded on offense and has lots of weapons that should be around for a long time. If they can find a good young WR to complement Bryant and take over for him at some point, the Cowboys might have another dynasty on their hands.
2 New England Patriots
Tom Brady, LeGarrette Blount, and Rob Gronkowski
Most of the talk around Tom Brady lately has been about his suspension for Deflategate. Some even started to question how great he really was while the Patriots managed to go 3-1 in his absence, causing many to ask whether or not any quarterback could do well as part of the system. Brady came back and produced huge numbers which seemingly ended that talk. Tom and Gronk are an unstoppable combination, and the downhill running talents of LeGarrette Blount only add to the team’s offensive dynamic. Gronkowski is the best receiver on the team even as a tight end, and could be an all-time great at the position when all is said and done. Even though Brady is getting older, this team is a contender every year thanks to their well-rounded talents.
1 Pittsburgh Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, and Antonio Brown
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been blessed with having the best offensive trio in the National Football League. Ben Roethlisberger may not be as exciting and newsworthy as some other quarterbacks such as Tom Brady and Cam Newton, but he is certainly effective and knows how to run the offense. The Steelers have battled suspensions and injuries, but when these triplets are all healthy and on the field they are as good as any other QB, RB, and WR trio in the NFL. Even when Bell can’t play, there isn’t much drop-off with his backup DeAngelo Williams. Antonio Brown is certainly one of the best WRs in the league and is exciting to watch week in and week out. If this trio can stay together and Pittsburgh can do a few things to improve their defense, they should be one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl for the next several years.
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