NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara selects offensive line units to watch heading into the week, breaking down what's on the line for each group, potential matchups and other significant factors. Following each week's games, O'Hara will select a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.
Consider this a playoff game for a Titans team that's gridlocked with Houston and Indianapolis at the top of the AFC South heading into Week 14. The good news for the Titans is they're coming off a bye and could be facing (if Trevor Siemian can't go) a rookie quarterback who threw for an embarrassing 104 yards last week. Tennessee boasts the league's third-best rushing attack and will face a Broncos defense that ranks 28th against the run, giving up 122.8 rushing yards per game. Tennessee's DeMarco Murray is second in the NFL in rushing with 1,043 yards and has been a huge part of the team's success. The Titans rank first in the NFL in points per game (30.9) since Week 6 and have scored a touchdown on 29 of 40 red-zone drives this season (an NFL-best 72.5 percent).
Throwing the ball is going to be a challenge for Tennessee, as it faces the No Fly Zone. Denver ranks first in pass defense, allowing 192.7 yards per game and a passer rating of 68.6. The pass blocking will be imperative, as Denver leads the NFL in sacks (36) and QB hits (95). The defensive front is led by Von Miller and Derek Wolfe, who combine for 19 sacks. But the Titans have held their own in pass protection, ranking fifth in sacks allowed (18) and recording four games where they didn't allow a sack. This is a major improvement from 2015, when the Titans gave up an NFL-high 54 sacks.
One of the biggest assets is rookie Jack Conklin, who is the highest-graded right tackle by Pro Football Focus. He's played well despite giving up two sacks vs. the Colts and struggling against Joey Bosa early in the year (allowed one QB hit and five hurries). He'll have his hands full this week when he lines up across from Miller, who is second in the league in QB hits with 23. Another highlight on this offensive line is Taylor Lewan. He's been one of the best left tackles this season -- giving up just one sack -- when he's not committing dumb penalties (he has 12 this season).
New England Patriots
In a game full of storylines, there's some good news and some bad news. The bad news for the Patriots is the Ravens are coming to town with the league's top-ranked defense. The good is Tom Brady is 6-0 in his career at home against teams with the No. 1 defense. More bad news is Brady has struggled against Baltimore more than any other team in his career. In 10 games (including playoffs) vs. the Ravens, Brady has a 12:11 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 76.6 passer rating -- his lowest passer rating against any opponent. However, there's more good news for the Patriots, as Brady has cemented himself in the MVP conversation once again. He ranks first in completion percentage (68.9) and TD-to-INT ratio (19:1) and sits in second in passing yards per game (308.8) and passer rating (113.1). And since Brady's return in Week 5, the Patriots have the second-best scoring offense (29.8).
The Patriots have the NFL's best first-quarter point differential (+65). LeGarrette Blount and the run game have been an instrumental part of the offense, especially without Rob Gronkowski. Blount leads the NFL with 13 rushing TDs, yet Baltimore has allowed just four rushing TDs this season (fewest in the NFL) and has held opponents under 65 yards rushing in eight of the team's last 10 games. Jumping out to an early lead will be crucial for the Patriots in this game, so they can put the pressure on the Ravens' offense.
Speaking of pressure, Nate Solder will wear the hard hat in this game, as he will be challenged by Terrell Suggs. Solder is PFF's eighth-best left tackle, although he's given up five sacks and a pair of QB hits. Suggs has notched eight sacks and 15 QB hits this season. The other matchup to watch is the Patriots interior O-line (Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney and David Andrews) vs. Timmy Jernigan. The Ravens defensive tackle is quite an active and disruptive interior D-lineman, as he leads the team in tackles for loss with nine and is second in sacks (five) and QB hits (10).
The Seahawks are coming off season highs in points (40) and total yards (534) against Carolina. While Seattle's offense has struggled this season, it is averaging 173 rushing yards per game in the last three weeks (at a clip of 6.4 yards per carry). The Seahawks look for Thomas Rawls to have another 100-yard rushing performance against a Packers defense that has struggled. Green Bay allowed 42.8 rushing yards per game through Week 5 (first in the NFL), but since have given up 118 rushing yards per game (23rd in the league).
Guards Mark Glowinski and Germain Ifedi will have their hands full with Mike Daniels, who has seven tackles for loss, eight sacks and 33 QB disruptions. Seattle tackles George Fant and Bradley Sowell will have one less threat to worry about: Packers OLB Nick Perry (eight sacks, one INT) will sit out with a hand injury this week, putting more pressure on Julius Peppers. With Perry out, there's a chance Clay Matthews could see more time as an edge rusher.
Coming off a big win over the Giants last week, Pittsburgh will keep trying to overtake the Ravens in the AFC North. And while the Steelers have experienced offensive ups and downs this season, they are on a hot streak in the run game with three straight 100-yard games. Le'Veon Bell is averaging 164.8 scrimmage yards over his last four games, and among all players with at least 20 career games, only Hall of Famer Jim Brown has averaged more scrimmage yards per game than Bell (Brown at 125.5, Bell at 124.6). This season, the Steelers are 6-1 when they rush for at least 100 yards.
Buffalo is vulnerable, coming off a tough road loss to Oakland -- a game where the Bills allowed 139 rushing yards. In pass protection, the Steelers have done a great job protecting Ben Roethlisberger and rank second in the league in sacks allowed (16). But Buffalo's defensive line (33 sacks this season) is certainly hungry after getting shut out in Oakland. Another thing playing in the Steelers' favor is the Bills are giving up more points at home (26.6 points per game) than on the road (20.1).
Atlanta comes into Los Angeles with the No. 1-ranked scoring offense and it doesn't look like the Rams will be a huge challenge, considering they have the worst scoring offense in the league. Defensively though, the Rams are stout and rank 10th overall. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald leads the league in quarterback hits with 25, and the person tasked with limiting him Sunday is left guard Andy Levitre.