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 13 and Week 13 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 13 winner is ...
1) Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys flexed their muscles in a desperate effort to keep their season alive by getting running back Alfred Morris going early and often on Thursday. There has been much chatter about Dallas' offensive struggles without Ezekiel Elliott -- consider that since Week 10, when Elliott's six-game suspension started, the Cowboys have averaged 125.5 fewer yards per game than they did with Elliott in the lineup. Of course, a lot of those troubles coincided with the temporary loss of left tackle Tyron Smith, who missed Weeks 10 and 11 with back and groin injuries -- those were Dallas' two least-productive games in terms of total offensive yardage this season. Against Washington on Thursday, in a game the Cowboys had to win, they pounded the ball and relied on strong performances by their perennial Pro Bowlers on the line -- Smith, center Travis Frederick and right guard Zack Martin. Dallas' yardage total (275) might seem rather pedestrian, but the team's rushing total (182 yards) reflects a ground attack that controlled the game and wore down Washington's defense, with 114 of those rushing yards coming in the second half. Morris had his biggest game as a Cowboy (and the fourth biggest game of his career, in terms of rushing yardage) with 27 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown (including 89 yards in the second half). Left guard Jonathan Cooper gave up the Cowboys' only sack of the game (he was credited with a pair of QB hits), but this group was Pro Football Focus' top-ranked run-blocking unit of the week -- notably, 50 of Morris' rushing yards came before contact, per PFF.
The rest of the top five O-lines from Week 13
2) Baltimore Ravens: Given the injuries this team has endured this season, including to six-time Pro Bowl lineman Marshal Yanda, John Harbaugh should be considered for Coach of the Year. I would challenge anyone to name the starting five offensive linemen for the Ravens right now. Anonymous though it may seem, the group -- left tackle Ronnie Stanley, left guard James Hurst, center Ryan Jensen, right guard Matt Skura and right tackle Austin Howard -- contributed to a Baltimore offense that notched season highs in yards (370) and points (44) in Sunday's win over the Lions, including 24 points in the fourth quarter. The Ravens also had 101 yards on the ground, with Alex Collins putting up 75 yards (at a clip of 5.0 per carry) and two touchdowns. The offensive line did not allow a sack in the game and gave up just one QB hit, an impressive feat for the top-ranked pass-blocking unit of the week, per PFF.
3) Tennessee Titans: The Titansthrottled the Texans' defense behind their two-headed monster at running back, with Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray together driving a rushing attack that accumulated 198 yards on the ground. Henry (109 yards) put up an eye-popping per-carry mark of 9.9 yards, thanks to his 75-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter, while Murray (66 yards) averaged 6.0 yards per carry. The offensive line was not credited with a single sack or QB hit and allowed just three total pressures. Left guard Quinton Spain and right tackle Jack Conklin had really solid games, but the line was also responsible for four penalties, which held this group back from being this week's winner.
4) Los Angeles Rams: The Ramstook down the Cardinals behind another solid, balanced performance. Los Angeles' yardage total (303) and rushing total (90 yards) are low by this team's standards, but the Rams were exceptional in pass-blocking. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth gave up the Rams' lone sack of the game, to Chandler Jones, and the unit only allowed one other QB hit during the contest. Right tackle Rob Havenstein and left guard Roger Saffold both played really well
5) San Francisco 49ers: The Jimmy G era has begun -- and it looks like the Niners found GOLD! In Jimmy Garoppolo's first start for San Francisco, the offense already looked much more efficient. Against the Bears, the 49ers racked up 388 yards and 23 first downs, converting 10 of 18 third-down chances (55.6 percent). They also dominated in time of possession, winning that battle by a margin of 17-plus minutes. San Francisco produced 110 yards on the ground, with 54 from Carlos Hyde and 45 from Matt Breida. Only one sack (credited to Brandon Fusco) and two hits (credited to Trent Brown) were attributed to the offensive line. The future suddenly looks bright for this offense, with the line ranking second in pass-blocking and fifth in run-blocking, per PFF.