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 6 and Week 6 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 6 winner is ...
1) Pittsburgh Steelers
Going up against the undefeated Chiefs in Kansas City, the Steelers needed a bounceback performance -- and that's exactly what they got. One week after getting blown off Heinz Field 30-9 by the Jaguars, Pittsburgh's offense racked up 439 total yards and dominated time of possession (36:39 to 23:21) in a 19-13 win. Ben Roethlisberger, who threw a career-high five interceptions in the embarrassing loss to Jacksonville, completed 17 of his 25 passes for 252 yards and one touchdown (against one interception) vs. K.C. But the real offensive workhorse was Big Ben's backfield mate, Le'Veon Bell. The Steelers' star back went from 15 carries for 47 yards (3.1 yards per carry) against the Jags to 32 carries for a whopping 179 yards (5.6 ypc) on Sunday. Bell's second 100-yard game of the season was the first such effort yielded to an opposing back by the 2017 Chiefs.
While Ben and Bell received all the "Killer B" headlines, Pittsburgh's big boys up front deserve a healthy share of the credit. According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers' O-line ranked first in run-blocking and third in pass-blocking. Roethlisberger was sacked once on Pittsburgh's opening drive in a somewhat odd play: On third-and-3, Chiefs OLB Dee Ford kind of used Bell's chip block to spring him around left tackle Alejandro Villanueva and right into Big Ben. After that, though, Pittsburgh's franchise QB was kept clean, as K.C. only managed two pressures.
Pittsburgh also showed off its depth up front in this game. B.J. Finney got the start for Ramon Foster, who was out with a back injury, and acquitted himself well. Then, when right tackle Marcus Gilbert aggravated a hamstring injury, Chris Hubbard filled in just fine. It's great for continuity and overall success when you can consistently toss out the same five guys along the offensive line, but these kinds of contributions off the bench are invaluable.
The rest of the top five O-lines from Week 6
2) New Orleans Saints: Welcome back, Terron Armstead! Drew Brees' blind-side protector missed the first five games of the season following offseason shoulder surgery, but he returned to action in the Saints' 52-38 win over the Lions. This really solidified the pocket for Brees, who led the Saints on scoring drives in four of their first five possessions. Despite the overall wackiness of this game, New Orleans didn't allow a single sack, while yielding just one QB hit.
And actually, the Saints piled up more yards rushing (193) than passing (186). That's right: New Orleans ran wild in the game after trading away Adrian Peterson. Who'd a thunk it? Mark Ingram recorded his first 100-yard effort of the season (25 carries for 114 yards and two touchdowns), while enticing rookie Alvin Kamara added 75 yards on just 10 totes.
3) Arizona Cardinals: The big story of the week -- which I briefly touched on just above -- was Adrian Peterson's relocation to the desert. There was optimism that a change of scenery could benefit the four-time first-team All-Pro, but I don't think anybody thought he'd perform this well. In four games with the Saints, Peterson managed just 81 yards rushing. On Sunday, he had 84 in the first half. By the end of the game -- a 38-33 win over Tampa Bay -- "All Day" had 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Not a bad debut, eh?
When you get that kind of ground production, the offensive line is clearly doing its job. The Cardinals' group has been much-maligned in recent years, but it deserves kudos for its effort on Sunday. And I'd like to spotlight one player in particular: left tackle D.J. Humphries. Sidelined by a knee injury since Week 1, the third-year player really made his presence felt. He was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded run-blocker in Week 6.
Thanks to Arizona's stout effort up front, Carson Palmer also got it going in the aerial attack, completing 18 of his 22 passes for 283 yards and three scores (against one pick). Palmer was sacked twice, but one of them was really on him for holding the ball too long. Beyond that, the QB wasn't touched. That's quite remarkable, because Palmer had really taken a beating over the first five games of the season.
4) Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins sleepwalked through the first half in Atlanta, falling behind 17-0, but came alive after the break, scoring 20 unanswered points and stealing a stunning road win. Miami was led by Jay Ajayi, who ran for 130 yards on 26 carries (5 yards per carry). While the hard-charging back certainly earned some tough yards on his own, the Dolphins' offensive line deserves credit for the ground production.
And when Jay Cutler dropped back to pass, the line was even more impressive. Miami yielded just four total pressures -- without a single sack or QB hit -- allowing Cutler to get it going in the second half with two TD passes. This is even more impressive when you consider that stud center Mike Pouncey missed the final 30 minutes of the game after suffering a concussion at the end of the second quarter.
5) New England Patriots:Tom Brady was sacked 16 times over the first five games of the season. In Sunday's tight win over the rival Jets? The franchise signal caller wasn't sacked a single time, as New England's offensive line only allowed one QB hit and four total pressures en route to being crowned as PFF's top pass-blocking unit in Week 6. This allowed Brady to add another accomplishment to his absurd resume: winningest regular-season quarterback in NFL history.
Furthermore, the Patriots added 118 yards on the ground on 25 rushes -- that's a healthy 4.7 yards a pop.