From where I sit, just a handful of offenses appear to be at the height of their powers entering the playoffs. One of them, Kansas City's potent attack, is literally running circles around opponents.
With MVP front-runner Patrick Mahomes under center in K.C., I have zero concerns about the Chiefs' offense. The AFC's No. 1 seed won't be active again until the Divisional Round, but once the Chiefs join the postseason party, they'll put points on the board. No doubt about it. Same goes for Josh Allen's Bills and Joe Burrow's Bengals. I expect fireworks every time those offenses take the field.
However, that's not the case for a number of playoff teams. Here are the three offenses playing on Super Wild Card Weekend that I am most concerned with.
The Ravens' offensive success is dependent on Lamar Jackson's status. And on that front, John Harbaugh didn't provide any clarity on Monday. The former MVP hasn't played a single down since suffering a knee injury in Week 13. When right, Lamar's the ultimate X-factor -- a lightning bolt that can strike at any moment, turning nothing into a highlight-reel touchdown with his otherworldly abilities -- but there's just no way to know how healthy he is at the moment. (UPDATE: The Ravens officially ruled out Lamar Jackson for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, while Tyler Huntley is a "game-time decision.")
Tyler Huntley has made four starts in Jackson's absence, with the Ravens going 2-2. Huntley's numbers in those games certainly don't jump off the page: 60 percent completions, 117.8 passing yards per game, 2:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio; 2.9 yards per carry. With Huntley kept on the sideline in Week 18, undrafted rookie Anthony Brown made his first career start against the Bengals, completing a mere 43.2 percent of his passes for 286 yards, with two INTs and a lost fumble.
All of this shuffling at the game's most important position certainly hasn't help Baltimore's attack. The Ravens have averaged the fewest points per game (12.5) in December and January of any team to make the playoffs since the 1997 Buccaneers (12.3 ppg). Baltimore just doesn't have enough juice in the pass game. The Ravens boast the NFL's second-ranked rushing offense, but a lack of bona fide weapons beyond tight end Mark Andrews limits the unit tremendously.
Baltimore lives in a ground-and-pound approach and runs the ball as well as anybody, but it can't keep up with AFC powerhouses like the Bengals, Sunday night's opponent. If the Ravens are forced into obvious passing downs, it could be another looonnnggg night for Harbaugh's team.
I wrote about Dak Prescott's struggles last month in this same space, identifying his Achilles' heel as a constant desire to make the big play, which too often leads to poor decisions and wayward throws. Nothing has changed. The Cowboys still rely too much on explosive downfield plays, rather than leaning on Tony Pollard and Ezekiel Elliott in the run game and working from the inside out. With at least one interception in each of the last seven games, and a league-leading 15 on the season (despite missing five games), Prescott is being lazy with his eyes and struggling to see coverage well. (Washington troubled him all game long Sunday with post-snap movement, holding Dallas to just six points in the lifeless loss.) It won't get easier for Prescott on Monday against the Bucs, who held Dallas to just three points and forced Prescott into numerous errant throws back in their Week 1 matchup (Dak's lucky he only had one INT in that game).
Until the Cowboys pound the rock to create simple passing situations, Prescott will struggle with inconsistency, especially in the postseason. If you give him enough opportunities to be the hero, he's proven that he'll make a mistake. It's time for offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to recognize less is more for Dak and the Cowboys' offense.
The Dolphins' offense is limping into the postseason, with the availability of quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa (concussion protocol) and Teddy Bridgewater (dislocated pinky on throwing hand) and now running back Raheem Mostert (broken thumb) all in question ahead of Sunday's wild-card matchup with the Bills. (EDITOR'S UPDATE: Dolphins coach Mike McDaniel announced Wednesday that Tua Tagovailoa remains in the league's concussion protocol and has been ruled out of Sunday's game at Buffalo.) Facing Buffalo's second-ranked scoring defense is a tough ask for any team, let alone one that's decimated by injury. Miami's offense has been far from dynamic when led by third-string QB Skylar Thompson, who has completed just 57.1 percent of his pass attempts for 534 yards and one TD against three INTs in seven games (two starts). (EDITOR'S UPDATE: McDaniel announced Friday that Thompson will start Sunday against the Bills.) Bottom line: Mike McDaniel must pull a rabbit out of his play-calling hat to keep pace with Josh Allen and the Bills.
The biggest flaw outside of the quarterback position is McDaniel gets too far away from the run game, which his offense is actually predicated around. He can get too enamored with his explosive wide receiver duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, who combined for 195 receptions, 3,066 receiving yards and 15 TD receptions. Look, I get it: Those two comprise a historically great tandem. But this unit needs more balance. With McDaniel having been a successful run game coordinator in San Francisco for four seasons (2017-2020), there is no reason this year's Dolphins should rank 31st in rushing attempts and 25th in rush yards, yet here we are. Miami has rushed for more than 150 yards just three times this season, with two of those efforts coming over the final month of the regular season. That felt promising before Mostert's injury. But if he can't go, that's a huge hit.
McDaniel's unit must become more physical, with the offensive line and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. leading the charge. That's going to be the key in setting up big gains and splash plays from Hill and Waddle.
Throughout the 2022 campaign, former No. 1 overall pick and NFL Network analyst David Carr will take a look at all offensive players and rank his top 15. Rankings are based solely on this season's efforts.
Mahomes likely locked up his second league MVP award after leading the Chiefs to the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a road win over Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon. It was another record-breaking campaign for the sixth-year quarterback in 2022 -- despite playing with a mostly new cast of characters -- as he recorded the most total offensive yards (5,614) in a single season in NFL history and threw for the fourth-most yards (5,250) all-time. Mahomes is the standard at the quarterback position; expect to see more magic this postseason.
Hurts clearly wasn't at his best in Sunday's win over the Giants that locked up the division title and No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs for Philly. Hurts was making a serious run at MVP before his shoulder injury, leading the Eagles to an 8-0 start to the season and a league-best 13-1 mark before he missed Weeks 16 and 17. Through his first 13 games of the season, Hurts completed 68 percent of his passes with a 22:3 TD-to-INT ratio and 108.4 passer rating, while rushing for 686 yards and 10 TDs. He should be praised for the seismic jump made from Year 2 to Year 3.
Allen came into the season carrying perhaps the most hype of any player in the NFL, with the Bills widely viewed as Super Bowl front-runners. He played like an MVP for a majority of the season -- recording his third consecutive campaign with 35-plus TD passes -- to help the Bills claim their third straight division title. His leadership has been on full display -- felt most over the last week -- showing he has what it takes to guide this tight-knit group through the AFC playoff gauntlet.
The Bengals took their lumps early in the campaign, but Burrow's second-half performance put Cincinnati at the top of the AFC North for the second straight season, improving his win-loss record to 22-10 over his last two seasons. With his lone TD pass in Sunday's win over Baltimore, Burrow broke his own franchise record for most passing touchdowns in a season (35). When asked Sunday about this potentially being a Super Bowl window, he replied: "The window is my whole career. The window is always open." Burrow is a guy playing with the utmost confidence, and that's scary for any opponent.
Calvin Johnson's single-season yardage record is safe for another year after Jefferson's production tailed off in the last two games. It's no doubt disappointing for a player as passionate and dedicated as the third-year Viking, but nothing can take away from the record-setting campaign he did have. Jefferson is the first Vikings player to lead the NFL in receiving yards (1,809) in a season. He also had a league-leading 128 receptions, surpassing Hall of Fame legend Don Hutson as the youngest player in NFL history to lead the league in both categories in a season. The future is bright.
Kelce secured a seventh straight season with 1,000 receiving yards back in December, but he officially notched career highs in targets (152), receptions (110) and receiving touchdowns (12) in Saturday's top-seed-clinching win over the Raiders. No surprise here, but the guy who is always available and consistently produces keeps his place atop the tight end ranks for another season.
Hill's presence in South Beach was a game-changer for Miami's offense, forcing defenses to key on him (even when he wasn't at 100 percent) and allowing his teammates to feast (see: Jaylen Waddle). Hill finished with career highs in targets (170), receptions (119) and receiving yards (1,710) -- even with the Dolphins shuffling through quarterbacks -- on the way to helping Miami make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. This is a new era of Dolphins football, and Hill is a massive part of the turnaround.
Along with Jalen Hurts' improvement, Brown is exactly what this year's Philadelphia team needed to return to NFC East glory. He ranked fourth in the NFL with 1,496 receiving yards, breaking Mike Quick's franchise record (1,409 yards, set back in 1983). General manager Howie Roseman continues to make all the right moves, with the Brown trade being the latest notch on his belt. The fourth-year pro proved to be well worth the four-year, $100 million extension the Eagles gave him upon arrival.
Jacobs couldn't have timed a career year any better. Heading into free agency, the fourth-year running back claimed the NFL's rushing crown with 1,653 yards. He thrived as the focal point of Josh McDaniels' offense and periodically came through in big moments, including this blazing 86-yard TD run to lift Las Vegas in overtime in Week 12. Stay tuned for a deserved payday.
McCaffrey's role in Kyle Shanahan's offense is everything football fans love about this game, with his rare versatility on display each time he takes the field. McCaffrey finished with 1,880 scrimmage yards and 13 TDs this season and was a huge asset down the stretch for San Francisco, which went 10-0 in games McCaffrey started after the trade. There's no slowing him down in this offense.
Despite the Raiders underperforming in 2022, Adams came through statistically with his third straight 100-catch campaign, second consecutive 1,500-yard receiving season and a league-best 14 TD receptions. He's such a pro and will be a pillar of his childhood team for years to come.
Herbert had another season marred by injuries to his supporting cast (and himself). When healthy, the Chargers fire on all cylinders with Herbert routinely making wow plays. Herbert's 477 completions and 699 pass attempts both rank second in the NFL this season (behind only Tom Brady, who had 490 completions on 733 attempts) and are franchise records. He's as good as he's ever been heading into the postseason, which gives the Chargers a real chance to make waves.
Goff has proven himself to be much more than a bridge quarterback for Detroit with his 2022 performance. He led Detroit's top-five scoring and overall offense by regularly getting all of his weapons involved and protecting the ball, as he threw for 4,438 yards (sixth-most in the NFL) with 29 touchdown passes against just seven INTs. Despite Detroit not making the playoffs, Goff helped the Lions become one of the most dangerous teams in the second half of the season. Given this franchise's history, that's no small feat.
Henry closed out the season with four consecutive 100-yard rushing games, finishing second with 1,538 ground yards while doing all he could to propel an injury-riddled Titans team into the postseason. Ultimately, Tennessee fell short, losing a win-and-in opportunity to Jacksonville on Saturday evening. Henry put another 350-plus touches on his body in Year 7, and though his physicality is what makes him so unique at the running back position, it's worth wondering how long he can continue to play at this level.
As disjointed as the Browns' offense generally looked during the 2022 season, Chubb remained a constant -- and a productive one at that. With 77 rush yards in Sunday's season finale, he joined Hall of Famer Jim Brown as the only players in franchise history to reach 1,500 ground yards in a season. He also totaled 12 rush TDs, tying his career high for a season, and by adding one score in the passing game, he set his career high in scrimmage TDs with 13. This was the fifth-year running back's best season to date.