Ranking Every NFL Team's Backfield From Worst To Best

The passing game in football can be quite entertaining to watch. Some of the most popular plays can be when a quarterback throws the ball about 60 yards to a star receiver in stride for a long touchdown play. However, there’s something about seeing a running back truck through several defenders on the way to a touchdown – just ask Marshawn Lynch. Or an agile back making everyone look as if they move in slow motion.

Rushing has been a traditional part of football with teams building their offense on different ways to run the ball. Passing was limited in the early days of the NFL. But through the decades, the focus on passing grew. Quarterbacks are expected to be extremely accurate and have the arm strength to get the ball down the field in the event of a last second Hail Mary is necessary.

But one cannot simply pass their way to the top of the NFL with an offensive playbook containing just hooks, slants, curls and streaks. A balanced offense is needed to win championships; at least one that can rush the ball effectively to open up the passing game. Teams that want to win a Super Bowl need to have a great backfield. Having a star running back is essential. But a supporting cast is also beneficial.

Some of the top teams in the NFL have multiple running backs that can carry the ball when one is injured or not finding their stride in a certain week. But not every team is lucky enough to develop a strong running game. The following is how the 32 teams in the NFL rank in terms of their running backs and how they improved (or failed to do so) in the 2017 NFL Draft.

32 Detroit Lions

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions could have certainly used a running back out of this year’s draft. They were ranked 30th in the league last season when it came to rushing yards. But the Lions must have felt no one fit their offensive system and decided to focus on defense and more targets for quarterback Matthew Stafford. All Detroit players combined for 350 yards with about 1,310 yards and nine touchdowns – the latter two would be good if it was from one player.

Injuries affected all players and so did a lack of averaging four or more yards per run. Theo Riddick led the team last season with 357 yards, followed by 334 from Zach Zenner, 265 from Dwayne Washington and 101 from Ameer Abdullah. The Lions did bring Mike James on as a free agent signing, but he only had 351 yards as a four-year backup in Tampa Bay.

31 Seattle Seahawks

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks have missed having a dominant running back like they had in Marshawn Lynch. With his returning to play for the Oakland Raiders, the Seahawks had 10 running backs entering the 2017 NFL Draft. This includes the recently acquired Eddie Lacy. Not only did he battle injuries in 2016, but he also came to Seahawks headquarters weighing more than 260 pounds. But if Lacy can get to a good weight and have the skills he showed in 2013 and 2014, the Seahawks offense will benefit as a whole.

It was a needed signing considering their leading rusher from last season, Christine Michael, was actually traded to Green Bay in the middle of the season. No Seahawk had more than 500 yards rushing. Seattle is really hoping for either Lacy or third-year back Thomas Rawls to have a bounce back year (or both). Regardless, expect cuts to their current running back depth chart.

30 New York Giants

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants had 11 wins in 2016 despite having one of the worst rushing yard totals in the entire league. Ranked 29th last season, the Giants were led by Rashad Jennings’ 593 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games. He has left for the free agent market, leaving Paul Perkins as the top returning back with 456 yards last season. Before the 2017 NFL Draft, the rest of the backfield depth chart looked weak and in need of assistance.

With that in mind, the competition for starting running back might be open for fourth round selection Wayne Gallman to step in. In three seasons with Clemson, Gallman totaled 3,416 yards and 34 touchdowns. As of this writing, the Giants also seemed linked to free agent LeGarrette Blount, who had 18 touchdowns in New England.

29 Jacksonville Jaguars

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars were another team that truly needed a young, fresh running back in an attempt to boost their overall offense. Especially after they were ranked in the lower third of the league in rushing yards and attempts. Insert LSU running back Leonard Fournette, who is considered by Mike Mayock to be the angriest running back since Adrian Peterson. Certainly a scary thought for the other three teams in the AFC South after he finished his college career with 3,830 yards.

But Fournette is also coming off having ankle problems, so health could be a concern. The rest of the Jaguars backfield features an aging Chris Ivory who averaged less than four yards per carry. So did T.J. Yeldon, who led the Jaguars with only 465 rushing yards in 15 games. No running back had more than 130 carries. The Jaguars seem to think Fournette can be the lead back their offense needs.

28 Los Angeles Rams

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Todd Gurley apparently was frustrated through the 2016 season with a subpar offensive line and an offensive system that he compared to what is run back in middle school. It likely won’t get much better by going another direction in the NFL Draft. The Rams will likely make changes with a new offensive coordinator in Aaron Kromer. It unfortunately hurts a backfield that deserves a better ranking than one spot better than last place in rushing yards.

Gurley showed as a rookie in 2015 he can be a top back with 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 13 games. But the Rams lost backup Benny Cunningham to Chicago and are left with a number of running backs with little to no regular season experience. Lance Dunbar was a rarely used back in Dallas the last five season. Malcolm Brown, Aaron Green and Brandon Wegher could be competing to not be cut during training camp.

27 Los Angeles Chargers

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Chargers have a lot of the same problems as their crosstown counterparts in the Rams. Their leading rusher in Melvin Gordon was unable to get past the 1,000-yard mark, but led the team with 997 yards and 10 touchdowns. The silver lining for Gordon was that he was able to do that in 13 games with 11 starts. This indicates he could have a bigger year if he remains healthy. The rest of the running back depth charts was underwhelming with a mix of young backs and washed up veterans.

Kenneth Farrow was second in rushing yards with just 192 yards in 2016. Backs like Ronnie Hillman and Dexter McCluster have barely done anything for the Chargers. The former Doak Walker Award winner in Andre Williams also has been forgotten in the roster. The Chargers then added to their depth with Division-II back Austin Ekeler from Western State in Colorado; which doesn’t invoke a lot of excitement for the remaining Charger faithful after their departure from San Diego.

26 Cleveland Browns

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

There haven’t been a lot of bright spots for the Cleveland Browns last season. Well, that rings true for most of their franchise history. Last season saw a lot of the same struggles as the team only had one win the entire 2016 season. In an effort to find something positive, the Browns may have found a starting running back in Isaiah Crowell. In his first run as the full-time starter, he had 952 yards and seven touchdowns in all 16 games.

Duke Johnson would be a decent No. 2 back with an average of 4.9 yards per carry. But the same duo led the Browns for just the 19th best rushing offense in the NFL. That could improve since they might be asked to do more with either a struggling Brock Osweiler or rookie DeShone Kizer as the quarterback next season. The backfield will see returning backs George Atkinson and Darius Jackson, but neither did much in 2016.

25 Baltimore Ravens

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens entered the 2017 NFL Draft in need of some running back depth. Their leading rusher from last season was Terrance West, who led the team with just 774 yards and five touchdowns. West also doesn’t have the history to be viewed as dependable with an average of 3.9 yards per carry in his four-year career. But he was the leading back on a team that was ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing yards.

The second leading rusher was Kenneth Dixon with just 382 yards last season. But he’s also going to miss the first four games due to a suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The Ravens did acquire veteran Danny Woodhead, who is more of a slot wide receiver who is officially listed as a running back.

24 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One thing that might have kept the Tampa Bay Buccaneers out of the playoffs last season was a lack of a consistent running attack that ranked 24th in the NFL in terms of yardage. No one in the backfield had more than eight starts – Doug Martin had 421 yards and three touchdowns while dealing with hamstring issues and then testing positive for Adderall late last season. The team leader was Jacquizz Rodgers, albeit he had just 560 yards in 10 appearances.

Tampa Bay will bring back Peyton Barber and Charles Sims, both combining for just 372 yards between them. The Buccaneers would then bring in two rookies in an effort to create competition for the spots to follow Martin and Rodgers. The Bucs drafted Boise State’s Jeremy McNichols, who is expected to be a factor in the passing game out of the backfield. They also signed Quayvon Hicks out of Georgia after he went unselected in the 2017 NFL Draft.

23 Washington Redskins

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Jones started the season in 2016 with the expectation to be the main running back for the Washington Redskins. This was after Alfred Morris became a free agent and joined the Dallas Cowboys. Jones was averaging 4.6 yards per carry to have 460 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. But a knee injury forced him out and allowed the rookie Robert Kelley out of Tulane to step in; finishing with 704 yards and six touchdowns in nine starts.

Both men averaged more than four yards per carry, but how healthy Jones can remain as a full-time starter does bring Washington down a little bit. Washington also decided to add to the power back depth by drafting Samaje Perine out of Oklahoma. With 49 touchdowns in three season, Perine was a main choice in the red zone and can provide a change of pace from Jones and Kelley.

22 Arizona Cardinals

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In his second season in the NFL, David Johnson was able to breakout in a big way in 2016 with 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns. This included having 157 yards and two touchdowns at San Francisco, followed by a three-touchdown performance the next week against the New York Jets. Johnson will likely be the main running back entering the 2017 season for Arizona. His main backup is the aging Andre Ellington, who just turned 34 during the offseason.

Before the draft, the Cardinals had two other backs in Kerwynn Williams (157 yards on 18 carries last season) and Elijhaa Penny, who didn’t get any carries as a rookie last season. Williams did have 8.7 yards per carry last season, so he could earn the right to be the second-string running back next season.

21 Denver Broncos

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos went from Super Bowl champion to missing the playoffs in one season. Many point to the struggles at quarterback, but there was also problems with injuries for their top running back C.J. Anderson, who was signed to an $18 million contract for four years. However, Anderson suffered a knee injury and further injured it while trying to play through the pain. This led to surgery to repair the meniscus. Denver fans hopes he comes back stronger.

Devontae Booker was okay, but not great in relief of Anderson with 612 yards and an average of 3.5 yards per rush. Juwan Thompson is the lone returning back, but hasn’t done much to warrant a lot of worth. Bernard Pierce comes from Jacksonville and Baltimore, but has a career rushing average of 3.7. The Broncos then picked up Coastal Carolina back De’Angelo Henderson in the sixth round. The small five-foot-seven back had 4,635 yards and 58 touchdowns in college.

20 Minnesota Vikings

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings had a lot of things go wrong in 2016. From Teddy Bridgewater’s knee injury before the season started to the lack of a consistent running attack, the Vikings were only able to finish with an 8-8 record. This led to some major changes in the backfield that could make Minnesota a lot better in terms of a ground game. Jerick McKinnon is the lone returning back with just 539 yards. Latavius Murray was a free agent signing with 788 yards in 14 games.

The Vikings also brought in Bishop Sankey, who had 762 yards with the Tennessee Titans in 2014 and 2015. But Sankey didn’t get any carries with Kansas City in 2016. Second round pick Dalvin Cook could be the most important acquisition. Cook had 1,765 yards and 19 touchdowns last season for Florida State; totaling 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns in three collegiate seasons. Cook might be the boost the Vikings were needing in their run offense.

19 Kansas City Chiefs

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t let the fact that Kareem Hunt came from Toledo fool you. This Mid-American Conference running back put up some monster numbers in his four years in college – 4,945 yards and 44 touchdowns; highlighted by 1,475 yards in 2016. Kansas City certainly wanted to add some depth to their roster considering that they didn’t have much going outside of Spencer Ware’s 921 yards in 14 games. Ware is still a young back in the league after small workloads in 2013 and 2014.

Charcandrick West will likely fall to the No. 3 running back spot on the Chiefs roster after averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on 88 attempts for 293 yards. Kansas City also brought in the veteran C.J. Spiller, although he hasn’t been a true factor since 2013 with the Buffalo Bills. But he would be an improvement from Jamaal Charles and his struggles last season after trying to come back last season from a torn knee ligament.

18 Indianapolis Colts

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Gore had a good season when it comes to running backs over the age of 30. Usually at a time when running backs lose a step in speed and agility, Gore still finished with 1,025 yards and four touchdowns. He accounted for more than half of the team’s total rushing yards that were ranked 23rd in the league. But Gore is not likely going to repeat that success in his 13th season in the league.

Robert Turbin and Josh Ferguson combined for a total of 184 yards as the second and third backs on the depth chart. Even quarterback Andrew Luck had more with 341 yards. That would explain why the Colts wanted South Florida’s Marlon Mack in the fourth round. As a three-year player with the Bulls, Mack finished with 3,609 yards and 32 touchdowns. He could be a more dependable backup that could succeed Gore.

17 New Orleans Saints

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

When you think about the New Orleans Saints’ offense, the first thing to come to mind since 2006 has been quarterback Drew Bees and his video game numbers. The Saints have not usually been known to have a strong running game. But for a team that was 7-9 last season, they did have a good performance out of veteran Mark Ingram’s 1,043 yards and six touchdowns. But Ingram will likely have to share carries with fellow veteran Adrian Peterson.

If Peterson can have a performance similar to 2015 (1,485 yards), then the Saints will look smart in offering the seven-time Pro Bowl back a two-year deal. But Peterson is 32 and might be past his prime. The Saints also drafted Tennessee running back Alvin Kamara, who had 1,294 yards and 16 touchdowns in two collegiate seasons. The rest of the backfield include names with few carries in Travaris Cadet, Marcus Murphy and Daniel Lasco. At least they have veteran fullback John Kuhn.

16 Chicago Bears

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears might have been 3-13 last season, but one bright positive came from the running game. While Jeremy Langford had some injuries after showing some promise as a rookie in 2015, Jordan Howard exploded as the new No. 1 running back with 1,313 yards and six touchdowns. The fifth-round pick from Indiana averaged more than five yards per carry. Howard is likely going to remain No. 1, with fans hoping he doesn’t have a sophomore slump.

Langford is also young entering his third season and could be a very active No. 2. The Bears also have a decent No. 3 back with Ka’Deem Carey, who is good for averaging four yards per carry through his first three seasons. The Bears rushing offense will need to be good again as they have a barely experienced quarterback in Mike Glennon and the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft in Mitch Trubisky.

15 Green Bay Packers

Wm. Glasheen/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin via USA TODAY Sports

Ignore the fact that the Green Bay Packers were ranked 20th in the league in rushing yards. The Packers had a lot of issues with the injured Eddie Lacy and others who weren’t able to hit the ground running. But Ty Montgomery was the No. 1 back the Packers would have never expected. Being brought in after no one else was available, the former wide receiver out of Stanford averaged nearly six yards per carry and had 457 yards on 77 carries in 2016. The Packers also have the returning Christine Michael to act as the No. 2.

But with the lack of running back depth, the Packers made that a big focus in the 2017 NFL Draft with three running backs picked up on the third day of the draft. Jamaal Williams was the first in the fourth round and had quite a four-year run at BYU, including 1,375 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior in 2016. The Packers also got Aaron Jones (UTEP) and Devante Mays (Utah State). Overall, Green Bay’s backfield will do better than 20th in yards in 2017.

14 Cincinnati Bengals

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, the Cincinnati Bengals did not meet a lot of expectations. Especially when you look at the recent history of their running backs usually have some good numbers. Jeremy Hill was still able to lead the team with 839 yards and nine touchdowns. But they usually were able to count on Giovani Bernard to have more than 600 yards. In 2015, Bernard had 730 yards to Hill’s 794. The two could still have a bounce back season to help the Bengals bounce back as well.

The Bengals backfield also sees the return of Cedric Peerman, Ryan Hewitt and Tra Carson – none of which did much in 2016. The Bengals also lost Rex Burkhead to the Patriots. It will be interesting to see what the controversial Joe Mixon can bring to the Bengals. He has certainly showed his potential with 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns in two seasons at Oklahoma. Cincinnati could see a huge improvement, or another flop.

13 New York Jets

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Jets signed Matt Forte to a three-year contract last offseason, there might have been concerns about how effective the veteran would be. Despite being older than 30, Forte still had a decent season with 813 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games. Even if he declines a little bit, he can still contribute as an all-purpose back that support the rise of Bilal Powell, who, had his best year in his six seasons in the league.

Powell started just four games and had big games in the end of the season, including 145 yards against San Francisco and 122 yards against Buffalo. The two could easily combine for about 1,400 or more yards, with Powell possibly getting more carries. But the Jets could use him and Forte as a good one-two punch. Depth is a concern with inexperienced backs in Brandon Wilds and Romar Morris behind them.

12 Pittsburgh Steelers

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

There might be some red flags in Pittsburgh after news broke in March that Le’Veon Bell underwent offseason groin surgery. The biggest concern is that the team has yet to announce any kind of time table for his return. However, Bell has been a wrecking ball coming out of the backfield for the Steelers since his rookie year in 2013. Bell had 1,268 yards in 12 games after a four-game suspension. Those numbers include having 236 yards and three touchdowns against Buffalo.

The Steelers let last year’s no. 2 back in DeAngelo Williams go into free agency. But the rest of the running back depth chart doesn’t really spark a lot of confidence in the event that Bell’s surgery forces him to miss time next season. That might be why Pittsburgh drafted James Connor out of the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to the inspiring story of beating cancer, Connor had a good year last year leading the Panthers with 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns.

11 Carolina Panthers

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers needed to find youth through the 2017 NFL Draft and they found it in Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey. The college standout might have stepped out from college early and skipped the Sun Bowl, he was a solid choice at No. 8 after 5,128 total scrimmage yards and 31 total touchdowns in three seasons. He will at least be a favorite to be the second-string running back ahead of Fozzy Whittaker’s 265 yards last season.

Considering Jonathan Stewart’s injuries the past few season and entering his 10th season in the league, McCaffrey will likely get his chance to be a starter. However, Stewart is a good power running back who will complement the versatility that McCaffrey will bring. Add the fact that quarterback Cam Newton is still an effective dual-threat running back, as well as two 245-plus pound fullbacks in Devon Johnson and Darrel Young, the Panthers did improve their backfield.

10 Houston Texans

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Houston Texans may have been viewed as a disappointment overall, but that was mostly because of the extremely overpaid and underachieving quarterback Brock Osweiler. While their offense might have been ranked low overall, the rushing offense was still ranked eighth in the league for team rushing yards. Lamar Miller led the team with 1,073 yards in his first season away from Miami. Houston also has a good No. 2 with Alfred Blue (420 yards, 100 carries).

A notable addition to the Texans’ backfield is drafting Texas running back D’Onta Foreman in the third round. He was impressive with a junior season of 2,028 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. He’ll be a good power option as a 240-plus pound ball carrier to provide a balanced rushing attack with the faster Miller and Blue. Houston certainly made a wise running back choice in the 2017 NFL Draft.

9 Philadelphia Eagles

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Even without a 1,000-yard back in 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles almost had a top-10 rushing offense last season with different running backs contributing. Ryan Mathews led the team with 661 yards, but had some injury trouble that put him on the injured reserve for the last part of the season. Behind him was Darren Sproles, who showed he still had a lot to contribute in his 30s. The veteran had 438 rushing yards and 427 receiving yards in his 12th year in the league.

The Eagles also may have gotten a steal in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft with San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey. In his senior season last year, Pumphrey accumulated 2,133 yards and 17 touchdowns to finish his collegiate career with 7,444 total yards and 67 touchdowns. Pumphrey might have to earn his carries, but could help improve Philadelphia’s offense.

8 Miami Dolphins

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins made a big leap in the rushing yardage rankings from 23rd in 2015 to ninth best in the NFL in 2016. Jay Ajayi was a big part of that after becoming the starter in his second season with the Dolphins. The former Boise State back led the team with 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns; including three 200-yard games against Pittsburgh and Buffalo (twice). While unlikely to dethrone Tom Brady and New England, Ajayi continue to help Miami build as the heir apparent in the AFC East.

Kenyan Drake likely earned a chance to be the No. 2 after averaging more than five yards per rush last season. The remaining backfield depth chart includes Damien Williams and the addition of Senorise Perry (Chicago) and Storm Johnson (Tampa Bay) who are joining their second team in their second year in the NFL. Miami is hoping that Ajayi doesn’t regress from his Pro Bowl season.

7 Oakland Raiders

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

It was a big season where the Oakland Raiders showed they could be an eventual title contender sooner than later. Besides Derek Carr and the passing game, the Raiders had a rushing attack ranked sixth in the league, led by Latavius Murray with 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. But Murray chose to leave the team for a free agent deal with Minnesota. But the Raiders didn’t remain quiet about the backfield situation.

The Raiders made a trade with Seattle to get Marshawn Lynch. But there are concerns after a year away in retirement. Oakland also decided to pick up Elijah Hood from North Carolina late in the draft. But Oakland also have their No. 2 and 3 backs from last season in Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Both were rookies in 2016 and averaged more than five yards per carry behind Murray.

6 San Francisco 49ers

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A big part of why the San Francisco 49ers ranked high in rushing yards for 2016 was the help of quarterback Colin Kaepernick still being good as a mobile threat. It also helped to have Carlos Hyde, who could really step up to become a 1,000-yard back in 2017. Hyde led the 49ers with 988 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games. But the 49ers didn’t have a lot of depth behind Hyde entering the 2017 NFL Draft, especially after Shane Draughn left for the Giants.

The 49ers attempted to help by drafting Joe Williams out of Utah, who had 1,407 yards and 10 touchdowns in a competitive Pacific-12 Conference. Draft experts didn’t seem to like Williams in San Francisco, but it could have been a lot worse. Unfortunately, the 49ers will not likely repeat their top-five position in the league for total rushing yards.

5 New England Patriots

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It really doesn’t seem to matter who the New England Patriots plug into the backfield. The team tends to produce a top-10 offense every season under head coach Bill Belichick. It is fair to be a little worried after LeGarrette Blount left for the free agent market after leading the Patriots with 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. No other running back had more than 300 yards last season. In small sample sizes, Dion Lewis has shown positive skills averaging 4.6 yards per carry.

The same could be said about James White’s 4.3 yards per carry last season. New England added depth with Mike Gillislee, who had 577 yards and a 5.7 yards per carry average last year with Buffalo. They also added Rex Burkhead, who averaged a little more than four yards each rush with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2016. But with a good offensive line, all of them could fill the production void left by Blount.

4 Buffalo Bills

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

LeSean McCoy might have a few more good seasons left in the tank, which he showed in 2016. After a rough 2015 season with just 895 yards and three touchdowns, McCoy led Buffalo with 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns. The team certainly should do better than last year’s 7-9 season, but it could depend on how McCoy does as he enters his ninth season in the league, which gets closer to when running backs start to see big production declines.

Buffalo fans also have to be a little nervous with the departure of their No. 2 back in Mike Gillislee, who left for New England. Their returning backs include Jonathan Williams (27 carries for 94 yards) and Cedric O’Neal, who didn’t play for Philadelphia last season. The Bills brought in Joe Banyard, who has just 95 yards in four seasons in the NFL. If McCoy struggles, the Bills will likely as well.

3 Atlanta Falcons

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have been known as more of an aerial offense for the past decade. Last season, it was a combination of having one of the best passing offenses, but one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. Devonta Freeman had his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season last year and led the team with 11 touchdowns. But he also had a very good backup behind him in Tevin Coleman.

Coleman was extremely productive with his 118 carries for 520 yards and eight touchdowns. He also caught 31 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns. The Falcons only have one other running back was Terron Ward, who showed some potential as he is about to enter his third season in the league. There’s a good chance Atlanta maintains their dominant offense if all running backs stay healthy.

2 Tennessee Titans

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Tennessee Titans might have missed the playoffs in 2016 with a 9-7 record, they certainly showed big improvements in an effort to win the AFC South. With how mediocre the rest of the division is, it shouldn’t take long. A lot of their success should come from the running game that is led by DeMarco Murray. The veteran back led the team with 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns. This comes after a tough season in Philadelphia, who signed him after the 1,845-yard season 2014 in Dallas.

Murray is more of an agile back while the Tians have a haymaker in Derrick Henry for the one-two punch in the backfield. Henry bruised for 490 yards and five touchdowns in just 110 carries in 2016. The two will likely be the two who get about 95 percent of the carries as David Fluellen had no rushes in 2016. The Titans added depth with Khalifani Muhammed in the seventh round, who will be fourth in the depth chart.

1 Dallas Cowboys

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. That old saying rings so true for the Dallas Cowboys having a top backfield in the NFL. Ezekiel Elliott, last season’s rookie sensation, was explosive to help the Cowboys to a 13-3 record. His 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns helped elevate Dallas to the level of a championship contender. It is very likely he will put up big numbers again, if he remains healthy and avoids a sophomore slump that can sometimes happens.

The Cowboys do have two veteran running backs to act as support just in case. Alfred Morris had 4,713 yards in his four seasons with the Washington Redskins. Morris is still young enough to have a few good runs in the event Elliott needs some time off. And while Darren McFadden will turn 30 at the start of 2016, he could still be a factor if he has to come in due to an injury. Dallas has depth that a lot of teams don’t have.

More in NFL