In today’s fantasy-obsessed football world, it’s easy to overlook the contributions of one position group: offensive line. Well, NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O’Hara is here to fix that. Following each batch of games, O’Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all the teams that played and ultimately select that week’s top five units, headlined by a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The rankings that you see below reflect O’Hara’s pecking order for Week 8 and Week 8 alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for 2018. This is NOT a projection into the future. The goal of this weekly column is to answer one simple question: Which five offensive lines stood out above the rest in last week’s action?
Without further ado, the Week 8 winner is …
The Colts join the Los Angeles Rams as the only teams to win the Offensive Line of the Week award twice this season. However, the Colts are the first to get it done in back-to-back weeks.
Indianapolis had another impressive win on the road, racking up 42 points against the Raiders. The Colts amassed 461 yards on offense with a tremendous 222-yard effort from the rushing attack, marking the first time the team has topped 200 rushing yards in back-to-back games in a season since 1985. Given the effectiveness of their run game, it’s no wonder Indy dominated time of possession by 13 minutes, bludgeoning the Raiders in the Black Hole.
Marlon Mack had the hot hand again with 25 carries for 132 yards and a pair of TDs. The second-year pro became the first Colts running back to have 100-plus rushing yards in back-to-back games since Joseph Addai in 2007. The offensive line has been a huge catalyst for a suddenly dominant run game and was Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked run-blocking unit of Week 8. The effort also helped the running backs earn a league-leading 122 yards before contact.
Andrew Luck was untouched as the offensive line wasn’t credited with allowing a sack or quarterback hit in the entire game. Left guard Quenton Nelson and right guard Mark Glowinski were solid in the run game and didn’t allow a single pressure in pass pro. Notably, Nelson and center Ryan Kelly were the highest-graded players at their respective positions this week, per PFF.
One area that the Colts need to clean up going forward is penalties, as Nelson, Kelly and Braden Smith were each called for holding.
The rest of the top O-lines from Week 8
Houston Texans: Don’t look now but the Texans have won five straight after a 0-3 start. Part of the reason for this hot streak is the improved play of the offensive line. Entering the bout with Miami, Deshaun Watson had been sacked 26 times and hit 68 times (most in the NFL). BUT, against the Dolphins, Watson wasn’t sacked and was hit only once. What a remarkable turnaround.
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The offense had 427 total yards and 42 points thanks to five passing touchdowns from Watson. On the ground, Lamar Miller continued to play well and finished with 18 attempts for 133 yards and a score against his former team. Center Nick Martin had the unit’s top performance, while right tackle Julie’n Davenport had one of his best games of the season by allowing just two hurries.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints got revenge after last year’s playoff exit. Statistically, it wasn’t a pretty game, but the Saints start the season 6-1 for the first time since 2013. They won with just 270 yards of total offense but converted on two of three trips to the red zone. Drew Brees threw for just 120 yards but was efficient, and the run game eked out 106 yards against a tough defense that’s played much better of late. Mark Ingram was the heavy hitter in the backfield with 13 carries for 63 yards, while Kamara did most of his damage on the scoreboard with a pair of TDs.
For the second straight game, tackles Ryan Ramczyk and Terron Armstead didn’t allow a sack or quarterback hit. The interior’s run-blocking was a bit sloppy, but the trio excelled in pass pro, allowing just three total pressures.
Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are back in the mix after winning three in a row, averaging 34 points since Week 5. The Steelers racked up 421 offensive yards (253 passing, 168 rushing) and James Conner has certainly answered the bell. Against the Browns, he had a career-high 212 scrimmage yards and now has the second-most rushing touchdowns (nine) in the league this season — behind only Todd Gurley (11).
The Steelers’ offensive line was credited with one sack against a Myles Garrett-led pass rush. The sack was allowed by left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, but the interior of the unit — featuring left guard Ramon Foster, center Maurkice Pouncey and right guard David DeCastro — were really solid in all phases of the game. Lastly, major props to backup tackle Matt Feiler, who filled in for Marcus Gilbert, for not allowing a single sack or hit in the contest.
Washington Redskins: The Redskins won their second divisional game of the season to stay in first place in the NFC East. Interestingly, they have won their first two divisional games for the first time since 2010. They did so by being patient with Adrian Peterson and run game, and it paid off. The veteran finished with 26 carries for 149 rushing yards and two total touchdowns. Aided by a 64-yard TD scamper that iced the game, Peterson surpassed Tony Dorsett for ninth-most rushing yards in NFL history. Leading the way on that big-time play were Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff on the right side of the offensive line.
The unit was PFF’s second-best run-blocking group of Week 8 and helped the backs amass 61 yards before contact. The O-line did a good job in pass pro as well, as it didn’t allow a sack but two quarterback hits. Both were allowed by Trent Williams against Olivier Vernon.
Follow Shaun O’Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.
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