I am a Seattle Seahawks fan and I have learned this year that I don’t want to watch them play football. Maybe it’s because Geno Smith is the quarterback or because the defense can’t seem to stop anyone other than Russell Wilson or maybe it’s because they just flat-out stink. But for whatever reason, I find myself staying on the NFL RedZone channel (shoutout to the GOAT, Scott Hanson) much more often when the Seahawks are playing than in previous years. But the Seahawks do play the Lions next week and I realized that I actually want to watch that game, and I can assure you it is not because the Seahawks are playing. That means I want to watch the Lions play, which makes sense because they have been a very interesting team this year. That got me thinking about which teams are up there with the Lions when it comes to watchability. That list is not just a list of the best teams in the league, though, because watchability is different. Some teams are good but can be boring to watch, either because their games are so good that they are over by the third quarter or just because they don’t play the most exciting style of football. Don’t tell your high school football coach I am saying this but it isn’t about winning, it’s about having fun (for the viewer). So here is my list of the most watchable teams in the NFL this year.
First, here are the criteria for determining watchability.
Scoring: the number one way for a team to be watchable is for its games to feature a ton of points. That usually means they have a good offense and a bad defense, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. In some situations, defense can be watchable but for the most part, it is all about the offense.
Close games: Another important factor in watchability is the competitiveness of the games. That is the key reason you won’t see Buffalo on this list, two of their games have been over before the fourth quarter. Games that go down to the wire are always better than ones that don’t, so point differential is a major component for this list.
Star power: The players on the teams matter in determining how watchable a player is. For example, the Packers are much more watchable with Davante Adams on the team, even if Aaron Rodgers plays just as well without him (which isn’t the case, it’s just a hypothetical). Knowing there could be a dominant performance or a jaw-dropping play makes a team more watchable. Being familiar with players and having an emotional interest in how they play impacts how much fun you have watching them.
Newness: This is definitely the least important criterium of them all but it still impacts a team’s watchability. Whether it is a young player that is breaking out or a team that is finally exiting its rebuild, newness matters. We get tired of watching the same players and the same teams do the same things over and over again. It’s why Tom Brady has taken a hit in watchability now that the shine has worn off his Tampa Bay tenure. That doesn’t mean that a team can’t remain watchable for long stretches of time, they just need to change things up from time to time in order to keep fans interested.
1. Miami Dolphins
They may have come a bit out of nowhere but the Dolphins are easily the most watchable team in the NFL right now. They have an incredibly entertaining offense that has facilitated the breakout of Tua Tagovailoa, who is an exciting player with his ability to air it out but also scramble and make plays. It also helps that the offense features Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, two of the most explosive wide receivers in the entire league. Throw in a defense with playmakers such as Xavien Howard, Jevon Holland, and Christian Wilkins and this team has a lot of reasons to tune in. Not to mention the fact that they have already played in two of the most exciting games of the season so far with their incredible comeback against Baltimore in week two and a thrilling win over Buffalo in week three. Miami has been the story of the season so far and will continue to be the most watchable team as long as they keep up their hot streak.
2. Detroit Lions
The Lions may be experiencing a bump in their entertainment value due to appearing on HBO’s Hard Knocks series this year but they are legitimately one of the most exciting teams in the league right now. Part of their watchability also stems from the fact that they manage to play in interesting games every week, as their two-point point differential indicates. Detroit has taken on the personality of its coach this season and since Dan Campbell is amongst the most entertaining coaches, it makes sense that his team is the same. The Lions also benefit from the newness factor quite a bit. This is a franchise that has been historically pitiful and hasn’t experienced much success, so it is a big deal whenever they are playing well. They also have plenty of young stars like Amon-Ra St. Brown, who may be one of the top five most watchable players in the entire league, D’Andre Swift, Aidan Hutchinson, and Jeff Okudah. Jared Goff has also done an admirable job of leading the team, which is important because bad quarterback play is one of the easiest ways to become unwatchable.
3. Baltimore Ravens
Technically, this list is a team-based ranking, but Lamar Jackson is worthy of this number three spot all by himself. There is nobody in the entire league that is playing better, or in a more exciting way, than Jackson. The young quarterback has already won an MVP but might be operating at a higher level this year. He has game-breaking ability with both his legs and his arm and has already accounted for some insane moments this season. Jackson isn’t the only reason the Ravens are watchable this year (he’s only like 95 percent of the reason). With other young playmakers like Mark Andrews, who might be the best tight end in the sport, Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, and J.K. Dobbins, when he finally returns from injury, the Baltimore offense is quite exciting. The Ravens also play a brand of defense that lends itself to watchability. Players such as Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are elite at creating turnovers or other big plays. But the defense as a whole is susceptible to giving up some points (as evidenced by that unreal game against Miami), which leads to high-scoring games which are always fun to watch.
4. Philadelphia Eagles
As one of just two 3-0 teams in the league (Miami is the other), the Eagles deserve their placement on this watchability list. The only reason they aren’t higher on the ranking is that they haven’t had the close games that the three teams ahead of them have. But Jalen Hurts has been absolutely electric this year and has given people plenty of reasons to watch Philly play. He also has a fantastic group of pass-catchers at his disposal with A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert all playing very well. The offensive line also might be the best in the league, and although that doesn’t directly impact watchability because most people don’t pay attention to o-line play, it does lead to more points. The Philadelphia defense is a double-edged sword because it certainly helps the team’s ability to win games but at the same time, it hurts its watchability. The defense is good for some exciting plays from great players such as Darius Slay, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, and Haason Reddick but sometimes they are too good and they prevent the other team from scoring enough to make the game interesting.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
In previous years, the Chiefs would probably be a lot higher than fifth on a list like this. But it is a testament to Patrick Mahomes’s unique skillset and ability that they even make this list at all given all the success they have had. There is a sense of repetitiveness when it comes to Mahomes and this team but this year’s version of the time has enough new wrinkles to salvage its watchability. The subtraction of Tyreek Hill definitely lowers their watchability a bit but it also makes Kansas City interesting because we want to see how the offense will look without him. With Travis Kelce and Clyde Edwards-Helaire still in place, the offense is still very explosive. And the additions of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore have added some entertainment value. The defense, although it has improved, still gives up some points which puts pressure on the offense to score. As if all that stuff wasn’t enough to justify their watchability, the Chiefs are coached by Andy Reid, who loves to keep things exciting with his unique plays and interesting decisions. I mean, this time had a freaking safety taking placekicks this season, that is watchable.