Lance Zierlein's Z-Report

Are the Rams, Chiefs, or Saints the best offense ever? Let's take a look

Drew Brees has a great shot at MVP this year. Michael C Hebert/Saints team site

All we’ve heard about over the last two years is sniping and arguing about the NFL’s television ratings and whether any decline was due to Colin Kaepernick and players kneeling for the national anthem. Granted, it’s calmed down some this season, but you couldn’t go a day without hearing, reading or watching stories and arguments about it.

Through all of that noise, football was busy having three teams quietly building offensive juggernauts the likes we’ve rarely seen in NFL history. The addition of Alvin Kamara to the Saints has given them a next level offense and new age weapon to deploy. The Chiefs combination of Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce was already lethal, but it took an “Air Raid” quarterback from Texas Tech to unleash total hell on the rest of the league. The Rams? They are just hoarding offensive talent, and they use the first pick of the 2016 draft to the tune of 35.3 points per game.

College offense comes to the pros

On November 4th, the Saints and Rams combined for 80 points and 970 total yards. To put that in perspective, the Texans and Redskins combined for 44 points and 598 yards this weekend. Of course the Rams and Chiefs weren’t going to be outdone, so they combined for 105 points and 1001 yards in their historic Monday Night Football game. College offenses have infiltrated the NFL and the results are actually very entertaining.

The Saints and Patriots have been running spread offenses for years, but the Rams and Chiefs added legitimate, every-down running backs to the mix to keep their train moving in case the passing game ever goes sideways (which it rarely does). Stringent officiating against defenses along with the addition of RPOs (run-pass-option) and jet sweeps almost makes these three offenses unfair. However, it may surprise you to find out that all three of these explosive offenses are unlikely to end up as the top dog all-time.

Untouchable numbers?

Ask anyone who the greatest NFL offense was and one of the first answers will be “The Greatest Show on Turf” Rams team from 1999-2000, but they averaged 32.8 ppg. The 2007 Patriots were unstoppable until they got to the Super Bowl, and they averaged 36.8 ppg and 295 ypg passing. The winner? Peyton Manning’s 2013 Denver Broncos offense averaged 37.9 ppg, 340 ypg passing and finished with 55 passing touchdowns and 71 total touchdowns.

Now keep in mind that Peyton Manning didn’t have RPOs and jet-sweeps and was a statue in the pocket. He was also coming off a season where he didn’t even play football because of an arm injury, and had a weak arm even before his injury. For as great as these offensive explosions are in 2018, what Peyton Manning and the Broncos did in 2013 will likely never be touched. Oh yeah, they also lost in the Super Bowl just like the 2007 Patriots did. Stats are great, but rings are better. One of the “big three” is going to get the ring this season. There simply isn’t any other team who can keep up with them on the scoreboard.

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The new-look Texans won't get started until September, but the Roughnecks' season is about to begin. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Without much fanfare, or seemingly any, the Houston Roughnecks are preparing for opening night of the XFL 3.0 season just a couple of weeks away.

The Roughnecks will host the Orlando Guardians, 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18 at TDECU Stadium on the UH campus. That’s less than a week after the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Before one pass is thrown, one run rushed, or one groin pulled, Las Vegas has set odds for the 2023 XFL season. Our Roughnecks and the Orlandos are tied for the longest odds on the board, +750. The early betting favorite is the St. Louis Battlehawks at +400.

Just a note: if you’re like Cosmo Kramer and think wagering on early-season XFL games is “some sweet action” – well, “you really need help, you need a team of psychiatrists working around the clock, thinking about you” and George Costanza.

Not surprisingly, good seats remain for opening night. Lousy seats, too. And seats in the middle.

If the Houston Texans and the all-mighty NFL couldn’t fill half of NRG Stadium, do the Roughnecks stand a prayer of drawing big crowds to TDECU Stadium?

One thing in the Roughnecks favor: affordable seats for their five home games on the XFL’s 10-game schedule. Season tickets for Roughnecks games start at $110 and go up to $480 at xfl.com. Individual game tickets, available on Ticketmaster, are $24 and higher. Reasonably priced food and drink (I kid because I love), plus an array of team merch will be available, including T-shirts ($25), baseball caps ($28-$34), sweatshirts and sweatpants ($45-$60), and bucket hats ($45).

Of course, nothing sells seats like winning. The Roughnecks were 5-0 and dominating the league last time the XFL played. That was 2020 when Covid-19 cut the season short. That was then …

This is now. Much like the Texans (as of this week), the most recognizable and popular figure on the field will be the head coach. The 2023 Roughnecks will be led by NFL veteran Wade Phillips, who has a lot of history and DNA in Houston. Quarterbacks currently on the roster are Cole McDonald from Hawaii, Kaleb Eleby from Western Michigan and Brandon Silvers from Troy State.

Most of the roster will be new names for Houston fans, although the league is bragging that 255 XFL’ers have been on NFL rosters at some point.

The Roughnecks will compete in the XFL South division along with the Arlington Renegades, Orlando Guardians and San Antonio Brahmas. That’s three out of four teams from Texas. The XFL North is comprised of the D.C. Defenders, Seattle Sea Dragons, St. Louis Battlehawks and Vegas Vipers.

Every XFL game (40 regular season, two playoffs, one championship) will air somewhere across ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 and FX, plus streaming on ESPN+. As they say, check your local listing to find the Roughnecks.

If you think that the XFL is just “too soon,” hold on until April when the Houston Gamblers take the field for the 2023 USFL season. Although don’t get too excited about attending home games. Houston’s “home” is in Birmingham, Ala. I know, silly.

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