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 week's games, O'Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all the teams that played and ultimately select a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week. And the winner is ...
Green Bay Packers
After watching the performance by the Packers' offensive line on Sunday night, it's no surprise that they are winning this award in Week 5. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was R-E-L-A-X-ing in the pocket all night against the New York Giants. It looked like he was playing backyard football with a mandatory five-Mississippi count before anyone could rush, as he had an average of 3.39 seconds per throw, the most in the league according to Pro Football Focus. Rodgers completed 23 of 45 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and the O-line was the second-best pass-blocking unit of the week -- allowing zero sacks and only one quarterback hit throughout the game.
The Packers' offensive tackles (David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga) were phenomenal against Giants pass rushers Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul. Other notable performances came from left guard Lane Taylor, who has started all four games this season after Josh Sittonwas cut just before Week 1, and rock-steady guard T.J. Lang.
Other notable O-line units in Week 5
Dallas Cowboys: Dallas could've won the award this week for run-blocking alone after steamrolling the Bengals' defense. Coming into the contest, Cincinnati hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 5 of last season. The Bengals also had not given up a single rushing TD this season. On Sunday, they gave up three. Dallas is averaging 155 rushing yards per game (best in the league), and rookie Ezekiel Elliott was superb, with 134 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, averaging a whopping 8.9 yards per carry. Wow! On top of that, Zeke is the NFL's leading rusher through five weeks with 546 yards, which is the highest total in franchise history by a rookie in the first five games of a season.
Right guard Zack Martin, center Travis Frederick and left guard Ronald Leary made Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins a complete non-factor, as he recorded goose eggs across the board. The O-line gave up one sack to Carlos Dunlap, which resulted in a forced fumble. This play alone is why this unit didn't end up on top this week. Other than that play, it allowed four hurries but zero QB hits.
Pittsburgh Steelers: In a much-anticipated matchup vs. the New York Jets' front, the Steelers had an impressive outing. They had the top-ranked pass-blocking unit, according to Pro Football Focus, as Ben Roethlisberger completed 34 of 47 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns. However, Big Ben was sacked once by Leonard Williams, and there was a fumble on the play. In his second game this season, Le'Veon Bell had a career-high nine receptions for 88 receiving yards and ran for 66 yards on 20 carries. In the trenches, Chris Hubbard, the third player the Steelers have started at right tackle this season, played a solid game.
Arizona Cardinals:Thursday night's NFC West clash seems like forever ago, but we can't forget how much the Cardinals dominated the 49ers. It was a short week, and the team was without Carson Palmer, then lost both starting guards during the game. Earl Watford came in for RG Evan Mathis (ankle), who was placed on IR on Friday, while John Wetzel replaced Mike Iupati (ankle). This didn't stop the O-line from helping David Johnson rush for 157 yards, the most individual rushing yards in a single game this season, and two touchdowns. Johnson also leads the NFL in scrimmage yards (695). In total, Arizona rushed for 172 yards on 37 carries for 4.4 yards per carry, aided by great field position created by turnovers. The O-line was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked run-blocking unit of the week.
Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons have had impressive back-to-back wins over last year's Super Bowl representatives. They were the second-best run-blocking unit of the week, paving the way for 122 yards on the ground against the Broncos. Devonta Freeman had 23 carries for 88 yards and a TD, while Tevin Coleman averaged 5.2 yards per carry. But the real damage came from the RBs in the passing game, as the pair combined for 167 receiving yards and a score. Coleman was the first 100-yard receiver vs. the Broncos' D this season.
The O-line played well in a rowdy environment against a previously undefeated Broncos team, but it did give up two sacks. One came on Ryan Schraeder on a brilliant inside spin move by Von Miller, and the other was attributed to Matt Ryan. The Falcons' offense was the first to put up 20 or more points on Denver's defense this season and averaged 6 yards per play.
Tennessee Titans: The Titans rushed for 235 yards against the Dolphins, marking their fourth straight game with 100-plus rushing yards. They tallied 166 rushing yards in the first half, and quarterback Marcus Mariota totaled 60 yards on the ground in the game, more than the entire Dolphins team (51 yards). The Titans' O-line didn't give up a sack or QB hit, but it did allow eight hurries. Left tackle Taylor Lewan continues to play at an elite level (when he's not getting foolish penalties), and guards Josh Kline and Quinton Spain played well. And while rookie Jack Conklin struggled a few times in the passing game, he continues to improve each week.