Ranking the 10 best duos in the NFL: The Chiefs’ Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes beat the Packers and Rams for the top spot
Earlier this week, my colleague Jeff Kerr identified theon every NFL team. It was a fun exercise. We’re here to identify the best duos in the entire league, period – but with a bit of a twist.
While Jeff has identified the best player-player pairings, we also allow coaches to be considered here. And coaches will be heavily factored into this list, which includes four – three head coaches and a coordinator. Otherwise, we’ll use the same criteria that Jeff defined for his list:
- Play (or coach) on the same side of the ball
- Contribute to the offensive or defensive success of the team
- Can be from the same position, but not a prerequisite
- Maybe the two best players (or coaches) on that particular side of the ball
We also only allow one duo per team. Otherwise, it would just be a list of players and coaches from the small handful of the NFL’s top teams, and that’s no fun.
10. Dan Quinn and Micah Parsons, Cowboys
This duo only have a year of experience, but this year has been so electric that it’s enough to land them on this list. Quinn built his defense – which finished the season ranked second in the Football Outsiders DVOA and third in the TruMedia version of the EPA per game – around a dynamic rookie unlike any player in the league today. . Parsons ranked sixth in the NFL in sacks and eighth in total pressures (sacks plus hits plus rushes) despite getting at least 135 fewer chances to rush the setter than any player in front of him. He generated pressure on over 22% of his passing snaps, which was so far ahead of the next closest player that it’s not even worth mentioning who it was. He picked up plenty of tackles flying to the ball in the running game, and he held firm in coverage. The Cowboys will continue to move him all over the field, Quinn will continue to generate advantageous games for him and he will continue to make plays in the backfield.
9. Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler, loaders
Herbert has quickly established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and while he has two great receivers he throws the ball to quite often, his real partner on offense is Ekeler. One of the most efficient and effective guards in the NFL, Ekeler is capable of not only working in the control game, but also being his quarterback’s primary target. Despite his small size, he has surprising power in his legs and is difficult to defeat on the first try. Herbert can hit any spot on the court with his throws due to his otherworldly arm strength, but his accuracy and ball placement on low and peripheral throws in Ekeler allows him to create yards after the captures with incredible frequency.
8. Tom Brady and Mike Evans, Buccaneers
In two seasons together, this duo had 70 catches for 1,006 yards and 13 touchdowns, and 74 catches for 1,035 yards and 14 touchdowns. They added 28 connections for 440 yards and four other scores in their six playoff games. Oh, and they also won a Super Bowl there. It’s a pretty special thing.
7. Kyle Shanahan and Deebo Samuel, 49ers
It’s hard to find a more perfectly matched duo than this one. Shanahan is one of the most creative game designers in the NFL, and Samuel is a player you can design literally any game for. He’s a deep threat, he’s a YAC monster, he’s tough in midfield, and oh yeah, he’s apparently one of the best running backs in the league too. No one has ever had a season quite like the one Samuel just put together, in which he had 77 catches for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns, leading the NFL in yards per reception; and also had 50 carries for 365 yards (6.2 per carry!) and eight other scores. With Shanahan finding exciting new ways to put the ball in his hands, Samuel became nearly unstoppable last season. It was incredibly hard on his body and the volume of runs should slow down (especially if the Niners pay him to a long-term contract), but it was also incredibly exciting.
6. Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals
In their last two seasons together (one in college and one in the pros), Burrow and Chase combined to connect on 165 passes for 3,235 yards and 33 touchdowns, as well as a national title and championship. of the AFC. Chase has only been in the NFL for one season and Burrow for two, but they are already among the best quarterback-receiver combinations in the game.
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5. Cameron Heyward and TJ Watt, Steelers
The backbone of one of the NFL’s best defenses in recent years, this duo has combined to total 115 sacks over the past five seasons — an average of 23 per year. Watt had almost as many himself last season, with a record 22.5 of them. He’s led the NFL in quarterback knockouts and tackles for loss in each of the past two seasons and is coming off his first Defensive Player of the Year award. Heyward is the unsung hero of the Pittsburgh defense, playing every spot inside the defensive line, pushing pockets and tackling the quarterback. He has made five straight Pro Bowls while Watt has made four in a row and two first-team All-Pro appearances in the past three seasons while Watt has made three in a row. You won’t find a better duo on the defensive front.
4. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, Bills
Allen and Diggs have only been together for two seasons, but those two seasons have been great as Allen became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and Diggs shone even brighter than he did in Minnesota. Diggs led the NFL with 127 catches and 1,535 yards in his freshman year at Buffalo, adding eight touchdowns to his record that season. The “drop year” he followed with consisted of 103 catches for 1,225 yards and 10 scores. Allen was in charge for those two monster seasons, and his ability to find Diggs on the court with his rocket arm and ability to extend plays with his legs is nearly unmatched. He’s also the best non-Lamar Jackson quarterback in the NFL right now, with 224 carries for 1,184 yards and 14 scores over the past two seasons.
3. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur, packers
Rodgers won back-to-back MVPs running the LaFleur offense, which ranked first and second in DVOA and first and first in EPA per play during those seasons. I don’t think we need to say more.
2. Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, Aries
The NFL’s best defensive player, Donald is totally unblockable. Inside defenders just aren’t supposed to be able to do what he does, and he does it anyway, with metronomic consistency. Paired with arguably the best defensive back in the NFL, the duo kept the Rams firmly in the title mix even when Jared Goff was under center, and helped propel them to the Super Bowl once the team added Matthew Stafford last year. Stafford and Cooper Kupp had a magical season in their first year together, but they’re still the Rams’ best duo until Donald decides to hang up his spikes for good.
1. Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, Chefs
In four seasons together, Reid and Mahomes went to (and hosted) the AFC title game four times, winning two of them, as well as a Super Bowl. They finished those four seasons ranked first, sixth, first and third in yards; first, fifth, sixth and fourth in points; first, third, second and third in DVOA; and first, second, third and second in EPA per game. Mahomes is arguably the most talented quarterback to enter the league, Reid is one of the best coaches of his generation or any generation, and they created one of the most explosive and effective offenses in recent memory.