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 the Divisional Round and the Divisional Round 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 Divisional Round winner is ...
Los Angeles Rams
A well-deserved winner this week, the Rams' offensive line completely controlled and dismantled a Cowboys team that boasted the highest-ranked defense remaining in the playoffs in terms of both scoring (sixth) and yards (seventh). Los Angeles' offense amassed 459 total yards, including a whopping 273 rushing yards, which is the most in a playoff game in Rams franchise history. The offensive line paved the way for two 100-yard rushers, with Todd Gurley gaining 115 yards and a rushing touchdown on 16 carries and C.J. Anderson rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 23 attempts. Anderson has been on a tear since signing with the team in Week 16, and the Rams are punishing the rest of the league with a ground attack that has averaged 232.3 rush yards per game since adding him.
The O-line deserves a ton of credit, considering 99 of the Rams' 273 rush yards were before contact, according to Pro Football Focus. Gurley and Anderson excelled against the Cowboys when running between the tackles, with Los Angeles averaging 6.3 yards per rush between the tackles. Guards Austin Blythe and Rodger Saffold were exceptional in the run game and helped set the edge for this rushing attack. Blythe and Saffold were instrumental in helping Gurley and Anderson get downhill and were good at the second level.
In addition to dominating in the run game, the Rams' offensive line allowed just two pressures, led by tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein, who didn't give up a pressure all game. This pair has really showed out the last month, with Whitworth not allowing a pressure in the last three games and Havenstein not giving up a sack in the last five. Lastly, center Jon Sullivan deserves kudos for having one of his best outings of the season by not allowing a pressure.
Runner-up O-line from Divisional Round
New England Patriots: It's astonishing that people allowed themselves to get duped into thinking the Patriots weren't one of the best football teams this year. Come on! We've learned not to doubt Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, and if you hadn't prior to Sunday's dominant win over the Chargers, you know now. The Patriots' offensive line has been one of the most consistent groups of the 2018 season, and Sunday was no different. The unit kept a Chargers' defense that completely shut down Lamar Jackson in check all game long, allowing Brady and Co. to amass 498 yards of total offense, including 155 yards on the ground, and convert five of seven red-zone trips. Brady had all day in the pocket and threw for 343 yards and one touchdown. His offensive line was phenomenal in pass protection, eliminating Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa and keeping Brady sack- and hit-free on 44 dropbacks.
Giving up five total pressures, the O-line excelled in both pass pro and in the run game. Center David Andrews didn't allow a pressure, while right tackle Marcus Cannon gave up one pressure and left tackle Trent Brown made Bosa a non-factor. In the run game, Brown, left guard Joe Thuney and tight end Rob Gronkowski created a complete avalanche on their side of the line of scrimmage on numerous occasions, paving the way for Sony Michel. The rookie running back had a historic performance as he became the first player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards and three touchdowns in one half of a postseason game. He finished with 129 rushing yards on 24 carries.