Top 5 lines through the first half of the season:
The Giants belong in the conversation for the top spot, but based on 2008 performance alone, the Titans are the best offensive line in the NFL. The offense ranks fourth in rushing (149.1 YPG), although having the two-headed monster of rookie Chris Johnson and LenDale White at running back also helps boost those numbers. The Titans' offensive line has allowed the fewest sacks in the league (4), and although it appears the team runs on every down, the offense is averaging over 28 passing attempts per game. Overall, the Titans line is excellent across the board, with veteran center Kevin Mawae leading the way.
Up Next: at Chicago. The Bears are back to their consistent ways on defense, allowing just 81.8 rushing YPG, which is the Titans' strength on offense. The running game may struggle to produce the way it has, however, the opportunities are there and the offensive philosophy will not change, no matter who the opponent.
New York Giants
The Giants' offensive line, which has been together for the past three seasons, came into 2008 vastly underrated. Building off of a Super Bowl win, the line continues to have the approach of "the sum of its parts is greater than any one piece," as the unit boasts talent at each position, but without a true superstar. The Giants' offense ranks second in rushing offense (162.6 YPG), behind only Atlanta, while the line has been very good in pass protection, allowing 10 sacks on the season -- ranking fifth in the NFL.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs are a factor in the NFC South every year and they're right there again, sitting at 6-3, just a game behind the Panthers in the loss column. Coach Jon Gruden has opened up the offense, and the passing game continues to lead the offense on a weekly basis (sometimes due to issues running the ball). The offense ranks ninth in rushing offense (115.9 YPG), but has just five rushing scores this season. Pass protection has been excellent, as the Bucs average the most passing attempts per game (38.7) and the line has allowed just 10 sacks through nine games.
Up Next: The Bucs have a bye in Week 10
No offensive line has outperformed preseason expectations more than the Falcons. With all of the offseason changes, expectations were low for the line, as well as the team in general, heading into 2008. The result? So far, the Falcons lead the NFL in rushing offense, averaging 163.4 YPG. Pass protection, which has long been a major trouble spot for the unit, has been significantly improved, as the unit has allowed 12 sacks in eight games. Rookie left tackle Sam Baker has played well, despite battling concussion and back injuries over the past few weeks. Although running back Michael Turner and quarterback Matt Ryan get the majority of the attention for the team's improvement, the offensive line should not be lost in the equation when it comes time to hand out credit for the team's turnaround.
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Up Next: vs. New Orleans. The Saints' defense ranks near the middle in key defensive categories, and this is a matchup that, at least on paper, would favor the Falcons' offensive line. Playing at home, look for the offense to continue to roll, having success both on the ground, and through the air, in a potentially high scoring game.
At first glance, it appears the Broncos' offensive line is ranked high based solely on its success in pass protection, but that is not the case. The Denver offense, which only averages 105.3 rushing YPG, has been efficient running the ball, averaging 4.4 YPC and ranking eighth in the NFL. The line's real success has been in pass protection, as the unit has allowed only six sacks in eight games which is the second fewest in the NFL. Coach Mike Shanahan, a fantasy player's worst nightmare, continues to rotate the stable of running backs, limiting the fantasy value of the team's running options thus far.
Up Next: at Cleveland (Thursday night). The Browns' defense allows a ton on the ground (148.0 YPG), and have a minimal pass rush (13 sacks). The Broncos' offensive line has a good matchup, but it remains to be seen if any of the Denver running backs will actually separate from the pack and become a viable weekly fantasy option, which is currently not the case.