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 ...
New England Patriots
The Patriots had a historic day at Gillette Stadium, with Tom Brady capturing his NFL-record 201st career victory (Brady needed just 264 games to pass Peyton Manning, who didn't reach 200 wins until his 293rd game) -- and he has the offensive line to thank for not ruining the moment for him at home. The dominant victory gave New England its 14th consecutive season with at least 10 wins (the second-longest streak in NFL history, behind the 49ers' mark of 16 straight). Despite the outcome, this had all the markings of a trap game going in, with the Los Angeles Rams coming to town after getting blown out in New Orleans in Week 12, while the Patriots lost star tight end Rob Gronkowskito season-ending surgery last week. Facing Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald -- the league-leader in quarterback hits -- could have been a recipe for disaster for the offensive line. But the O-line controlled the line of scrimmage and protected Brady, who made a lot of quick throws and screen passes. The Patriots finished with 402 yards of total offense, with their 39-year-old quarterback having a steady day (269 passing yards and a touchdown).
Brady was kept upright all day, with the line allowing zero sacks and just one quarterback hit -- by none other than Donald, who had 24 QB hits coming into Sunday's contest. Rookie left guard Joe Thuney had his ups and downs, which is expected when you're playing across from Donald, but he played well. Right guard Shaq Mason had one of his best games as a pro, while tackles Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon continued their solid seasons. We've seen this group -- which also includes center David Andrews -- improve immensely from last season, but we also saw Brady take time into his own hands, getting rid of the ball in an average of 2.09 seconds (the fastest of any QB in Week 13, according to Pro Football Focus).
The Patriots have found a balanced attack with LeGarrette Blount in the backfield, as the team rushed for 133 yards against the Rams. Blount, who is having a phenomenal season, added 88 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries Sunday. He is 43 yards shy of notching his second-career 1,000-yard rushing season (the first was his rookie season in 2010).
Other notable O-line units of Week 13
Oakland Raiders: The Oakland Raiders continued to be the best pass-blocking offensive line in the NFL this season with their Sunday performance against the Bills, who had the second-most sacks in the league (33) coming in. The Lorenzo Alexander-led defensive front was shut out by the Raiders, who didn't give up a sack or QB hit. The O-line -- LT Donald Penn, LG Kelechi Osemele, C Rodney Hudson, RG Gabe Jackson and RT Austin Howard -- was PFF's No. 1-ranked pass-blocking unit in Week 13. Derek Carr kept himself in the MVP conversation with 260 yards and two touchdowns and added his sixth fourth-quarter comeback this season when he and the Raiders scored 29 unanswered points to claim the 38-24 victory.
The Raiders finished with 399 offensive yards, with 139 coming on the ground. Latavius Murray racked up 82 yards on 20 carries, while Jalen Richard chipped in 53 yards on nine attempts. Paving the way on the line, Penn and Osemele had another dominant game on the left side to coincide with their sweet cleats. Hudson also put up a notable performance for the 10-2 Raiders.
Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens put on a clinic against the Dolphins. What was expected to be a competitive game turned one-sided early, and the Ravens finished with 496 yards of total offense -- 303 of which came in the first half alone. Though quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball 47 times, the offensive line didn't give up a single sack and allowed only one QB hit. Flacco racked up 381 passing yards and four touchdowns as the Ravens were perfect on four attempts in the red zone. Baltimore had 110 rushing yards with Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West splitting most of the carries. On the line, Marshal Yanda continues to cement himself as one of -- if not the -- best guard in the NFL. Our final shout-out goes to right tackle Ricky Wagner for his work against Cameron Wake.
Green Bay Packers: The Packers' offensive line continues to fly under the radar because of the up-and-down season the 6-6 team is having, but this unit is near the top of the charts every week. Even in the snow, Aaron Rodgers tossed dime after dime and finished with 209 passing yards and two touchdowns and a passer rating of 108.9. One sack -- given up by left tackle David Bakhtiari -- kept the Packers from winning this week's award. Lane Taylor contributed with a spectacular game; he was PFF's highest-graded left guard in Week 13. The O-line allowed zero QB hits and only four hurries against the Texans, which is remarkable considering Rodgers held onto the ball for an average of 3.64 seconds. If the O-line keeps this play up, no team is going to want to face the Pack in the playoffs.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks had their best offensive game of the season and totally dismantled the Panthers on Sunday night, posting their first 40-point regular-season game since Week 11 of 2013. Seattle racked up 534 yards of total offense, with 240 yards coming in the run game. Thomas Rawls made a huge impact, with 106 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. As much as the O-line has struggled this season, it helped the Seahawks' run game earn an impressive 87 yards before contact.
Seattle, which had center Justin Britt back in the lineup, was knocked out of contention for the award this week because there were three sacks, two of which were attributed to the O-line. There weren't any other QB hits in the game, a huge improvement from earlier in the season. Russell Wilson completed 26 of 36 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown, helping the 8-3-1 Seahawks continue their December dominance. With the win, the Seahawks improved to 16-3 in December since 2012.