Offensive Line of the Week: Eagles dismantle Cowboys' defense


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 11 and Week 11 alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for 2017. 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 11 winner is ...

1) Philadelphia Eagles

Surprise, Surprise. This marks the fourth time the Eagles have earned the offensive line of the week honor this season. They were heads above any other team in the run and pass game in Week 11 as they dismantled the Cowboys on the road.

The Cowboys' defense has been solid against the run, so it's impressive that the Eagles pounded the rock like they did. Of Philly's 383 yards of total offense, 215 came on the ground. The running back trio was very effective with all three players gaining 50 rush yards or more. Newcomer Jay Ajayi led the way with seven carries for 91 yards for an unbelievable 13 yards per carry. Most of his total came on a 71-yard, third-quarter scamper -- the longest run of his career -- and he's led the Eagles in rushing yards in both games since he was traded. LeGarrette Blount added 13 carries for 57 yards (four yards per carry), while rookie Corey Clement chipped in six carries for 50 yards and a touchdown. For the effort, the Eagles were top run-blocking unit of the week, per Pro Football Focus.

Not only did the Eagles pound the Cowboys in the run game, but they did a great job in pass protection. The offensive line kept Carson Wentz clean as it didn't give up a sack and allowed just three quarterback hits. It's impressive that the Eagles won despite Wentz only throwing for 168 yards. But the sophomore quarterback was able to spread the ball around significantly, completing passes to eight pass catchers.

Center Jason Kelce was one of PFF' highest-graded run-blockers in Week 11, and Lane Johnson's monster game couldn't have come at a better time. The right tackle kept Demarcus Lawrence at bay all game. The Cowboys' pass rusher, who ranked in the top three in the NFL in several pass rush metrics coming into the game, only had one quarterback hit in the contest. Finally, right guard Brandon Brooks deserves some love for his performance. He didn't give up a single pressure of any kind Sunday. Another job well done by Philly.

The rest of the top five O-lines from Week 11

2) New York Giants: I don't think anyone expected this kind of performance from this Giants team, let alone this offense. The G-men didn't have an overwhelming amount of offensive yards (317), but it sure felt like 500 yards for Giants fans. It was the best performance by the offensive line this season in terms of pass protection. Eli Manning threw for 205 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions, but the biggest factor was that the O-line didn't yield a sack or hit the entire game. It was the first time Eli's been kept clean all season, and it paid off in a big way. The other factor that aided the offensive line was starting rookie undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler at right tackle. There were eight hurries allowed, all coming from the right side, but the unit did a solid job in holding off the Chiefs' pass rush.

In addition, the Giants' run game has improved since Week 4, recording more than 100 rushing yards in five of the last six contests. Sunday's effort was led by Orleans Darkwa's 20 carries for 74 yards and a touchdown. This was a total group effort by the offense, and the Giants proved to everyone, more importantly themselves, that they can compete and possibly spoil some playoff hopes.

3) Minnesota Vikings: Who saw the Minnesota offense outgaining the No. 1 scoring offense on Sunday? I sure didn't. The Case Keenum-led Vikings put up 451 yards of total offense (280 passing, 171 rushing). The journeyed quarterback continued his hot streak in completing 27 of 38 passes for 280 yards and one touchdown and a 100.8 passer rating. He's completed at least 70 percent of this passes in back-to-back games and is taking care of the football. He's doing his job, but having receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen sure helps.

This offensive line looks nothing like the dysfunctional group from last season. Sunday, they impressed after keeping the stellar Rams' defensive front from getting to Keenum. The unit didn't give up a sack and two quarterback hits and although, they gave up quite a few hurries, neither tackle (Rashod Hill and Riley Reiff) or rookie center Pat Elflein allowed a hit. The third-round pick has done a great job solidifying the center position on this team and deserves more national attention for his efforts in Year 1.

The O-line also supplied a big boost in the run game. The Vikings racked up 171 yards on the ground led by Latavius Murray's 15-carry, 95-yard performance. He scored Minnesota's first touchdown of the game and averaged 6.3 yards per carry in the win. With the ground game clicking, Minnesota was able to have a 15-minute advantage in time of possession.

4) New England Patriots: The Patriots dominated south of the border and stormed to a 33-8 victory Sunday in Mexico City. And while they didn't do a lot of damage in the run game 89 yards, the offensive line played extremely well in protecting Tom Brady. The 40-year-old was laser sharp in competing 30 of his 37 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns.

The O-line relinquished one sack, two other quarterback hits and six total pressures. That's pretty remarkable considering last year's Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack was on the other side. He was limited to one sack and three hits, and the Patriots did it all without their starting center David Andrews and right tackle Marcus Cannon. LaAdrian Waddle started at right tackle and Ted Karras in place of Andrews at center, both having solid outings. Left tackle Nate Solder had one of his best games as he didn't give up a single pressure.

5) Los Angeles Chargers: It seems like everyone is running through the Bills lately. Of course, it helps when their rookie quarterback gift-wraps five interceptions in the first half alone. The Chargers took advantage and strolled to a 54-24 victory, piling up 429 yards of total offense with 146 on the ground. Leading the charge was Melvin Gordon with 20 carries for 80 yards and his first rushing touchdown since Week 6. Rookie Austin Ekeler added six carries for 40 yards for an impressive 6.7 yards per carry and scampered in for a TD.

The O-line allowed four quarterback hits and one sack. Although, the sack on Philip Rivers could've been avoided if tight end Jeff Cumberland did a better job with his chip. The sack was credited to Michael Schofield but Cumberland was at fault on the play. I thought Schofield played well at right tackle, along with Russell Okung at left tackle. The Chargers should remember this effort and build going forward.

Follow Shaun O'Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.



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