Over the past decade or so, the National Football League has become a passing factory where yardage and touchdown records are broken at a dizzying pace. A staggering 21 of the top 22 individual seasons for passing yards have come since 2011, with Dan Marino’s 1984 season the lone exception. Passing is fun and the NFL is marketing an entertainment product first and foremost. Many talented quarterbacks are throwing the ball and there is a bevy of receivers in the league to haul in the passes. But which NFL quarterback wide receiver tandems are the most exciting? Here are the most exciting passing duos in the NFL, in reverse order.
Note: Each player is rated out of 10 on the ‘excitement index’ in parentheses and those numbers are added to get a total excitement rating. For this piece, only wide receivers were considered to pair with quarterbacks. Also, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones did not make this list due to them all being rookies and questions surrounding how they will perform, when some of them will see the field and which receiver(s) they will utilize the most.
NFL Quarterback Wide Receiver Tandems: Here Are the Most Exciting
10. Tom Brady (7) and Mike Evans (8) 15 points – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Watching Tom Brady is far more clinical than exhilarating most of the time but you can’t argue with the results. And Mike Evans was fourth in the league in touchdown catches with 13 last season, Brady’s first with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
9. Dak Prescott (7) and CeeDee Lamb (8) 15 points – Dallas Cowboys
It will be exciting just to see Dak Prescott back on the field after his gruesome injury last season. And while the Dallas Cowboys have multiple talented receivers, none are as electric as CeeDee Lamb.
8. Ryan Tannehill (6) and A.J. Brown (9) 15 points – Tennessee Titans
While Ryan Tannehill is a fine quarterback, he is not an electrifying quarterback that people will be telling their grandkids about. This grade is all about A.J. Brown, who is a nightmare matchup for defensive backs.
7. Justin Herbert (9) and Keenan Allen (7) 16 points – Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert’s 31 touchdown passes for the Los Angeles Chargers last year were the most by a rookie quarterback in NFL history. Keenan Allen is a fine receiver when healthy, and while he might not be the most exciting receiver in the league, he is talented and plenty watchable on Sunday afternoons.
6. Aaron Rodgers (8) and Davante Adams (8) 16 points – Green Bay Packers
Sadly, fans may not see this duo perform together again. Aaron Rodgers’ Hall of Fame career is unassailable and he does it with a dramatic flair that is heart-racing even for non-Green Bay Packers fans. Adams caught an absurd 18 touchdowns in 2020 to lead the league and somehow still does not seem to get the credit he deserves.
5. Lamar Jackson (10) and Marquise Brown (6) 16 points – Baltimore Ravens
Lamar Jackson gets a perfect score because he is a video game cheat code come to life. There is nothing more exciting in the league than Red Zone cutting to a Baltimore Ravens game while Scott Hansen tries to slow play what he is about to show you. Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has been OK in his first two campaigns, and has highlight-reel plays to his credit, but he needs to be more consistent to boost his rating moving forward, which would push this tandem into the upper echelon in the NFL.
4. Russell Wilson (8) and D.K. Metcalf (9) 17 points – Seattle Seahawks
Russell Wilson’s consistent greatness with the Seattle Seahawks continued in the 2020 season with 40 touchdown passes and over 500 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, D.K. Metcalf runs down the field like a gazelle who spends six hours per day at the gym. It is possible that a score of nine may be shortchanging just how fun he really is to watch each week.
3. Josh Allen (9) and Stefon Diggs (8) 17 points – Buffalo Bills
Josh Allen used to be exciting for altogether different reasons, but a breakout 2020 season makes him a must-watch player now. If you like quarterbacks who throw 37 touchdowns and run for another eight, he is your guy. Stefon Diggs caught a league-best 127 passes for over 1,500 yards after coming to the Buffalo Bills from the Minnesota Vikings. Allen definitely liked his new target last year.
2. Kyler Murray (9) and DeAndre Hopkins (9) 18 points – Arizona Cardinals
Kyler Murray’s first two seasons in the NFL, both with the Arizona Cardinals have been an absolute delight to watch. He can make all the passes and run down the field like an RC car full of Red Bull. The former first overall pick ran for 819 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
DeAndre Hopkins is as thrilling as any wide receiver in football. How the Houston Texans traded him for pennies on the dollar (sorry, David Johnson) is utterly beyond comprehension. There would not be a more exciting combination in all of football if not for the duo listed at number one.
1. Patrick Mahomes (10) and Tyreek Hill (9) 19 points – Kansas City Chiefs
This is as perfect a combination as the excitement index has seen in its brief life. Patrick Mahomes is not only the best quarterback in football but also the most riveting with his improvisation skills and arm, which resembles a rocket launcher. Tyreek Hill is a perfect 10 most weeks as well but is docked ever so slightly for not catching the ball quite as frequently as his targets would suggest. This is nitpicking though because when he does catch the ball he is always a threat to score. Hill racked up 15 touchdowns on 87 catches in 2020.
Matt Ryan (6) and Calvin Ridley (7) 13 points – Atlanta Falcons
They are effective of course, just not that exciting, except in the fourth quarter when all bets are off.
Kirk Cousins (5) and Justin Jefferson (8) 13 points – Minnesota Vikings
The issue here is it is difficult to get too excited about Kirk Cousins.
Joe Burrow (7) and Ja’Marr Chase (7) 14 points – Cincinnati Bengals
The Bayou reunion could move way up the list after the 2021 season, but they cannot crack the top-1o of quarterback wide receiver tandems yet.