Football Outsiders and ESPN showcased their list of the 30 best offenses of the last 30 years on Monday. There have been many great offensive teams over the last 30 years, but it takes a truly remarkable unit to make this list. The Denver Broncos made the list twice and, surprisingly, the 1997 Super Bowl champion offense wasn’t one of them.
Equally surprising, the record-breaking 2013 unit wasn’t even in the Top 10.
16. 2013 Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning blew away the NFL record with 55 passing touchdowns, which is how the Broncos rank so high despite a running game that was good but not great (10th in DVOA). This Broncos team has the sixth-best passing DVOA ever despite getting penalized for an easy schedule (30th).
As fans, we really bought into that 606-point offensive juggernaut, but they were gobbled up by a historically good defense in the Legion of Boom and the Seattle Seahawks.
Still, it is the NFL and to put up the kind of Star Wars numbers that Peyton Manning and that offense did is amazing.
Instead, we should look to 1998 and that 14-2 Terrell Davis-led Broncos team that couldn’t be stopped by anyone. Only the pressure of being undefeated and the microscope of the media brought them down for a two-game stretch late in the season.
3. 1998 Denver Broncos
The 1998 Broncos had to overcome a lot to rank as one of the most powerful offenses in NFL history. Injuries kept John Elway out of three games and most of two others, and they faced the fourth-hardest schedule of opposing defenses that season. The Broncos' offense was not just potent but balanced, one of only two units to rank among the 25 best passing teams and the 25 best rushing teams during this 30-year time frame. The running game was the focus, of course, and only the 2000 Rams and 2011 Panthers had a higher rushing DVOA than the 1998 Broncos. Terrell Davis won the NFL MVP award with more than 2,000 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, even though division rivals San Diego and Oakland ranked first and third in run defense DVOA. (Atlanta, the team Denver beat in the Super Bowl, ranked second.) Combine his performance with the opponent adjustment, and Davis had 602 rushing DYAR, the best season for any back in the past 30 years. The passing game was just as strong: Ed McCaffrey and Rod Smith both ranked among the top eight most valuable wide receivers, and Shannon Sharpe was second among tight ends behind New England's Ben Coates.
Did you hear that Pro Football Hall of Fame voters? Terrell Davis had the best season of any running back of the last 30 years. I know, you heard and he’s finally getting that gold jacket. Thank you for that, by the way.
The travesty that is Terrell Davis not being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame needs to end in 2017.Posted by Mile High Report: A Denver Broncos Blog on Wednesday, January 25, 2017
That 1998 offense was truly special and when they release their top 30 defenses of the last 30 years, I would expect the Broncos 2015 squad to rank fairly highly on their list as well.