Offensive Line of the Week: Colts' front overwhelms Texans

Print

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 Wild Card Weekend and Wild Card Weekend 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 Wild Card Weekend winner is ...

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts imposed their will on the Texans from the get-go and practically put this wild-card game away by halftime. (The 21-7 final score made this game look a lot closer than it actually was.) Controlling the line of scrimmage throughout, the offensive line, which has been so good all season, helped Andrew Luck and Co. put up gaudy numbers and score a touchdown on three of their first four drives.

The offense amassed 422 total yards, including a franchise playoff record for rushing yards in a game with 200, edging the previous mark of 191 set in Super Bowl XLI. Leading the way was second-year running back Marlon Mack, who had a career-high 148 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown on 24 carries (6.2 yards per carry) and was the first 100-yard rusher against the Texans this season. Against Houston's third-ranked run defense, the Colts had only one negative run on 35 rushing plays. This is a remarkable feat, considering J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney led the league in tackles for loss by a duo this season with 34.

The offensive line deserves a ton of credit for its drastic improvement from 2017. A year ago, the Colts gave up the most sacks in the NFL (56). A year later, they allowed the fewest sacks (18). It's stemmed from the addition of Quenton Nelson. The rookie is a fan favorite and rightfully so, as he has brought in an unbelievable amount of power and talent, operating with a contagious mindset. His ability to finish blocks motivated the entire group, and now, Anthony Castonzo, Braden Smith and others are taking pride in it. According to Pro Football Focus, the Colts' O-line, which enjoyed the return of center Ryan Kelly from a stinger that kept him out in Week 17, didn't give up a single sack against the Texans -- marking just the second game this season that Houston's defense didn't have a sack -- and only allowed three quarterback hits the entire game.

Runner-up O-line from Wild Card Weekend

Dallas Cowboys: With a stout Seattle defensive front, the offensive line helped the Cowboys secure a spot in this weekend's Divisional Round with a 24-22 victory on Wild Card Weekend. The Dallas unit was good with combo blocks, and Ezekiel Elliott's patience allowed the big guys to be very physical and control the line of scrimmage, which was reflected in Zeke's 5.3 yards per carry. The 2018 season's rushing yards leader finished the game with 26 carries for 137 yards and a rushing touchdown, plus four receptions and 32 receiving yards. Rookie left guard Connor Williams paved the way for Elliott with stellar run-blocking, despite struggling in pass protection.

The Cowboys' O-line allowed a total of seven pressures, including one sack given up by Tyron Smith, and a quarterback hit, per PFF. Center Joe Looney, who has played well in place of Travis Frederick, right guard Zack Martin and right tackle La'el Collins didn't allow a single pressure in the win. Coming off a solid effort, this group needs to be sharp Saturday against the Rams' scary front four if it wants to keep the Cowboys' title hopes alive.

Follow Shaun O'Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop