In the early years of the NFL, the league had been a pass-heavy league. When the 21st century came, teams started to focus on running the football. Since then, running has become the focal point of many teams’ offenses. Presently, many general managers and coaches strive to have an elite running back. What’s better than one running back? Two solid running backs. Many teams are fortunate to have a great running back duo because, with a duo, you can open up the playbook and worry less about injuries to your running backs. He is the current top five running back duos in the National Football League.
Top Five Current Running Back Duos In The NFL
Like putting together any list consisting of players, it was difficult. I considered many teams’ duos like the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, and others. Ultimately I chose five different teams. I made the decision to choose these teams based on the duo’s statistics, their skills, and their potential.
Number Five: Ezekiel Elliott/Tony Pollard
The Dallas Cowboys have always been a pretty run-heavy offense, even before the arrival of Ezekiel Elliott. Speaking of Elliott, he helped his team be the fifth-best rushing offense in the league last year. Though he had a down year by his standards, it was still a fantastic season. “Zeke” rushed for 1,357 yards, 12 touchdowns, and he also added 420 receiving yards. In his previous three seasons, he has consistently produced. In those seasons, he has 4,048 rushing yards accompanied by 28 rushing touchdowns, and 1,199 receiving yards. He is one of the league’s most powerful running backs and a good dual-threat too.
Ezekiel Elliott is paired up with the incoming sophomore running back Tony Pollard. Pollard had himself a solid rookie season where he rushed for 455 yards and got 107 receiving yards. He is not even close to being as good as Elliott, but he offers great speed and acceleration that helps him maneuver around defenders. Pollard has those big yardage bursts, that gives a spark to the Cowboys when they are down. These two are great, but my only worry is how they will play without their star guard, Zack Martin. Only time will tell.
Number 4: Mark Ingram/J.K. Dobbins
This duo is the duo with the greatest potential on this list since Mark Ingram has only played one year for the Baltimore Ravens and J.K. Dobbins is a rookie. I think they will greatly produce and exceed that potential, especially since the Ravens are the most run-heavy team with 54% of their offensive plays being running plays. Mark Ingram is a powerful running back that can break tackles, and surprisingly has one of the best hands of any running backs. Last year, he had to prove that he can be a true starting running back and he did. He went for 1,018 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns, and 247 receiving yards.
Ingram’s partner will be the rookie J.K. Dobbins who was one of the best running backs coming out of college. This will be a perfect veteran/rookie running back duo. Like Ingram, Dobbins is a great runner and also has great hands. Dobbins isn’t as powerful but is quicker than Ingram. In college, Dobbins went for 4,459 rushing yards, 38 rushing touchdowns, and 645 receiving yards in three years. Opposing defenses will get the power from Ingram and the speed from Dobbins. What makes me think this duo will greatly succeed, is the Ravens have a top-five offensive line, and Lamar Jackson will focus more on passing meaning more carries for the duo and more receiving opportunities. Defenses will not only have to watch out for Lamar Jackson but also the fantastic duo.
Number 3: Alvin Kamara/Latavius Murray
The New Orleans Saints are not known for being a run-heavy offense, but their running back duo of Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray is responsible for a lot of the offense’s success. The starting running back is Alvin Kamara. He is one of the most skilled running backs in the league. That is, the second-best pass-catching running back in the league. Last year, he had a down year due to injury. He recorded 797 rushing yards and caught 533 receiving yards. I expect a bounce-back season from him in which I predict he crosses over 900 rushing yards and over 700 receiving yards. I expect this because the Saints have a top-five offensive line, and the Saints will be in playoff mode every game.
Kamara’s counterpart, Latavius Murray, isn’t as skillful, but he is stronger. Murray is a powerful 230-lb running back, that has a sort of smashmouth running style as he likes to power through defenders. Last season, Murray stepped up when Kamara was injured and he rushed for 637 rushing yards and five touchdowns. This upcoming season, I believe he rushes for over 550 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Again, this is one of those great combinations where you have power from one running back, whereas skill and speed are from the other. This combination opens up the playbook and puts the opposing defense on its heels. Kamara and Murray will once again this year be key factors in the Saints playoff push, but most importantly their super bowl contention.
Number 2: Phillip Lindsay/Melvin Gordon
The Denver Broncos had the ninth-most run-heavy offense last year with Phillip Lindsay, and expect them to be top five with the addition of Melvin Gordon. This team has now two running backs that could easily be the starting running backs on other teams. Let’s start with the returning running back, Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay had a very solid sophomore season in which he totaled 1,011 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He is a speedy, athletic running back, but isn’t the best at catching the football. That job belongs to former Los Angeles Chargers starting running back and current Bronco, Melvin Gordon.
Last year, Melvin Gordon had an awful year due to injury. He only had 612 rushing yards and 296 receiving yards. Gordon joins a youthful Broncos team that is a playoff contender this season and I believe he bounces back. The big question is how the carries will be split up between the two running backs, and I believe they will be fairly equally split up. It’s very likely that the Broncos will run a lot of two-back sets, meaning both of them will be on the field. Lindsay’s numbers may go down with the Gordon addition, but both of them should have solid years. I expect both of them to combine for over 1,700 rushing yards, over 10 touchdowns, and over 600 receiving yards. They will greatly help the young Broncos in their push for the playoffs.
Number 1: Nick Chubb/Kareem Hunt
Like the Broncos, the Cleveland Browns also have two starter quality running backs. The rushing offense was really the only bright spot for the whole Browns team. Why is Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt the best duo? Well, here is why. First of all, their play has one of the greatest influences on their whole team. Nick Chubb is one of the most promising running backs in the NFL. He is a wrecking ball that had a monster sophomore season. In that season, he rushed for 1,494 rushing yards which were second-best in the league. Last year, he also had the most broken tackles in the league at 32 and the second-most yards after contact at 882 yards. Also, Chubb did this behind a poor offensive line that ranked 23rd in the league.
The other half of the duo, Kareem Hunt, joined midway through the season. He rushed for only 179 rushing yards and caught 285 receiving yards, but that’s because Chubb got a lot of the carries and the Browns are stacked at the wide receiver position. I do expect though that Hunt will become more active and get more carries. It’s likely you see both of them on the field at the same time. With an improved offensive line, I believe that the duo of Chubb and Hunt will put up great production. I predict that they combined for close to or over 2,000 rushing yards and over 450 receiving yards. The play of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will be a key factor in whether the Browns make the playoffs or they don’t.
Top Five Running Back Duos Recap
As stated before, running backs have become the focal points of many offenses, and their play has been a key factor in their team’s success. Many teams have elite running backs, but there are lucky teams that have two great running backs. Top running back duos open up playbooks and, if one of the backs gets injured, there is a solid back that can replace him. The duos play a huge part in each of these teams’ offenses, but most importantly they play a huge part in these teams’ playoff contention.
Embed from Getty Images