Dallas Cowboys (Previous Rank: 1) – It wasn’t exactly a clinic, but the Cowboys offensive line played well and was crucial in Cooper Rush’s ability to play over his head and throw for 300+ and lead a game-winning TD drive. Despite having a backup QB in the game, and maybe because the Vikings were focused on stopping the run, Dallas ran 50 pass plays, and rush had 40 pass attempts. He entered the game having only thrown three regular season passes, so that’s quite the jump for a player making his first start in primetime. But the reason the Cowboys could feel so comfortable letting Rush throw it is that they have an elite offensive line. The Cowboys o-line allows pressure just 15.8% of pass plays (best in the NFL) and has only allowed three sacks as a unit. Two of the three sacks from Sunday night were charged to RBs and the other to backup tackle Ty Nsekhe, who was in at LT after Smith went out with an ankle injury. When the Cowboys offensive line is at full strength, they have proven to be the best in the NFL. Smith’s status for next week’s game is still uncertain, but Dallas just got back La’el Collins, so they should be ok if they must play without him in the short term.
Los Angeles Rams (Previous Rank: 4) – The Rams o-line had a dominant performance this past week. Yes, it was against the Texans, but allowing two pressures in a full NFL game is impressive regardless of who the opponent is. In an earlier version of these rankings during the first few weeks of the season, I foolishly claimed the Rams probably don’t have a pro-bowler and are mostly getting it done with collective great play instead of any elite players. Well, they’re making me look foolish because Whitworth is now top five among tackles in PA% and Havenstein is top 10. Both have a chance to make it, and Whitworth is looking like a shortlist candidate for the all-pro team. It's truly remarkable that he can still play the toughest o-line position at nearly 40 at such a high level.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Previous Rank: 2) – Leonard Fournette and the Bucs running game had gotten hot, but the Saints cooled them off. Fournette and Jones combined for 39 yards on 11 carries, and if not for a 24-yard run by Bernard, TB probably finishes with 50 rushing yards on less than 4 YPC. However, they came to play in pass pro as usual only allowing eight pressures at a rate slightly above 17% for the game. Jensen struggled allowing three pressures from the C position, but everyone else was fine. This is still an elite group that will make their living in pass pro, but when they run-block at a high level, this unit is as good as any in the NFL.
San Francisco 49ers (Previous Rank: 6) – The 49ers offensive line was great in their win vs. the Bears. They nearly rushed for 150 yards on 5.6 YPC and only allowed three pressures. The 49ers have risen to 3rd in PA% and are tied for the fewest allowed sacks with three. Trent Williams missed a game the previous week but returned to the lineup and was dominant in the run game. He’s been dominant all year and has a strong case for best offensive lineman of 2021 so far. Mack is quietly making a case for best pass-blocking center, and Tomlinson has been consistent all year and this group’s second-best player. The best news for the 49ers from this game had to be McGlinchey seems to have shaken off his pass-pro problems from prior to the bye week. He had allowed eight pressures in weeks four and five but only two in their last two games. Right now, the 49ers have four guys upfront playing well and at their best, can challenge the three groups ahead of them.
Cleveland Browns (Previous Rank: 3) – The injury bug is starting to impact the Brown o-line. Conklin was back in the lineup this week after missing two games and only lasted 21 snaps before dislocating his elbow. With Wills struggling most of the year trying to play hobbled, the Browns o-line will now take a serious hit with Conklin expected to be out for weeks. The Browns allowed 11 pressures in their loss vs. the Steelers, and nine came from Wills and Blake Hance, the man who replaced Conklin. Until Wills starts to look more like he did last year or Conklin returns, this is no longer a top-five o-line. However, their interior group is still the best in the NFL so don’t expect a huge drop-off from this unit, especially in the run game.
Kansas City Chiefs (Previous Rank: 10) – The Chiefs offense is struggling by their standards, and this offensive line is unfairly taking the blame by some in the media. I maintain that the Chiefs offensive line has arguably played better than any other position group on the entire team in 2021 and played well on Monday night. The Chiefs currently rank 8th in PA%, are top 10 in both run and pass block win rate, and they lead the league in average rush yards before contact at 3.7. Their playing so well upfront, they were perfectly content to trade away a quality offensive lineman in Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff who just got put on the active roster because they knew he wouldn’t be able to play. This offense’s biggest problem is turnovers and Andy Reid’s unwillingness to run the ball despite having one of the better run-blocking o-lines in the NFL.
New England Patriots (Previous Rank: 9) – The Patriots had another good outing on the offensive line and it correlated to a huge upset victory over the Chargers on the road. They only allowed six pressures, and while the run game wasn’t spectacular, consistent solid blocking up front allowed the patriots to stick with the run game and use it to their advantage with sheer volume as their backs rushed for 131 yards on 35 carries. It’s not a coincidence that the Patriots look like a different team since week five because that is about the time things starting to get better for the Patriots upfront. Coming into the year, the belief was the Patriots offensive line would be the strength of the offense and could allow their QB and mediocre skill player group to play above their heads.
Los Angeles Chargers (Previous Rank: 8) – Even with Storm Norton playing like one of the worst tackles in the NFL, the Chargers still have a top 10 o-line right now. Norton allowed 8 pressures and was a disaster in their loss to the Patriots and Schofield had some troubles in pass pro as well allowing three pressures himself. The other three guys only allowed two combined and have become the bedrock of this unit. Linsley is making another all-pro campaign at the center position, Slater has a case for best rookie, and Feiler has a case for bounce-back player of the year after being discarded by Pittsburgh. The best thing about the Chargers is that they can get it done in both phases of the game. They’ve been a good run-blocking group all year and have only allowed the 2nd fewest TFL on run plays with three. They’ve also picked it up in pass pro and have moved into the top 10 in PA%.
Philadelphia Eagles (Previous Rank: 11) – Considering the Eagles lost both of their starting guards for the year, it’s remarkable how they’ve been able to still play at a high level most of the year. The Eagles are a flawed team overall, but this o-line has allowed them to be competitive against good teams and beat up on really bad ones as they did on Sunday in their 44-6 thumping of the Lions. They were so dominant in the run game that they had 45 run snaps to 20 pass snaps. Even in blowouts, that’s a rare run-to-pass ratio in today’s NFL.
Arizona Cardinals (Previous Rank: 7) – The Cardinals o-line had arguably their worst game of the season (one could also make a case for the Vikings game), and it came at the worst time. They allowed 10 pressures at a rate of 25% for the game and now Arizona has dropped out of the top five in PA%. A lot of the pressure came from the left side as Humphries and Pugh allowed seven combined. They were also playing a third-string center with both Hudson and Garcia out. The Packers were missing many key players, and this was a golden opportunity for Arizona to put some distance between themselves and one of the teams that are challenging them for the one seed. However, they came up short, and this offensive line was one of the reasons why.
Indianapolis Colts (Previous Rank: 13) – Finally, Braden Smith was back in the lineup for the Colts, and he played well in his first action since week 1 only allowing one pressure. On the other hand, Nelson has been back two games and hasn’t looked like his normal self so far. It’s too early to make too much out of it at the moment, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Eric Fisher looked good again this week, and Ryan Kelly is starting to play better. The only problem for the Colts is the RG position. Glowinski and Reed have both struggled most of the year when asked to play.
New Orleans Saints (Previous Rank: 14) – Here comes the Saints offensive line. They look like a different unit with Armstead and McCoy back in the lineup. Also, James Hurst got the start at LG. He did a good job filling in for Armstead at LT and could give them better play than the injured Andrus Peat was giving them most of the year. The Saints only allowed seven pressures in their upset victory over the Bucs, and most notable was the performance of Ryan Ramczyk, who had his best pass pro game of the year allowing no pressures. If their defense and this offensive line continue to play at a high level, the Saints might be able to overcome the loss of Jameis and still make the playoffs.
Washington Football Team (Previous Rank: 5) – Washington is another team whose o-line injuries are beginning to catch up with them. WSH was looking like a top-five o-line a few weeks ago, but injuries to two starters (Schreff and Cosmi) have weakened this unit, and on Sunday, their starting center, Chase Roullier left the game with a fractured fibula and is now on IR. Flowers also left the game late with a leg injury. That’s now four starters who have gotten hurt. When healthy this was one of the best lines in the NFL. But right now, with all of these injuries, it’s hard to rank this group at the moment.
Tennessee Titans (Previous Rank: 12) – The Titans have been a mid-tier o-line most of the season, and had performance of that caliber in their OT win vs. the colts. The good news is Taylor Lewan played, didn’t get hurt, and played very well. However, that and the excitement of an overtime victory over a division rival quickly wore off after the bad news that Derrick Henry will miss significant time with a foot injury. This offensive line is going to be put to test in the coming weeks as teams will no longer fear their run game and look to be more aggressive in rushing the passer. Play-action will also be less effective. On paper, the Titans are a middle-of-the-pack offensive line, and without Henry, it remains to be seen if that’ll be enough to keep the Titans afloat in the AFC.
Baltimore Ravens (Previous Rank: 15) – Bye Week
Buffalo Bills (Previous Rank: 20) – The Bills offensive line only allowed two pressures on 52 pass snaps which is simply remarkable, even against the Dolphins. This group has shown improvement since early in the season, but now they must overcome injuries. Darryl Williams was moved back to RT with Spencer Brown out with a back injury, and Ike Boettger was at LG which kicked Feliciano to RG. However, Feliciano now has a calf injury that will cause him to be week-to-week. If Brown and Feliciano are out next week, the Bills might be forced to play Cody Ford at RG, and that isn’t good for anyone.
Green Bay Packers (Previous Rank: 19) – The Packers were up against it on TNF facing an undefeated team capable of putting up a bunch of points while they were without three receivers, including Davante Adams. However, they overcame that and won a tough hard fought game thanks to their excellent rushing attack. The Packers rushed for over 150 yards and seemingly were able to pick up important first downs using the run whenever they were in a tight spot. The Packers o-line played a large role in that. There were definitely runs in which Dillion made yards where it looked like nothing was there, but overall this group had a solid game run blocking, and were good enough in pass pro to get it done.
New York Jets (Previous Rank: 17) – The Jets offensive line had already been playing well, but their deadline trade for Duvernay-Tardiff to strengthen their interior will only make this group better. Most likely he was brought in to take over at RG for Van Roten, but ironically enough, he had his best game of the year on Sunday. Fant went down with an ankle injury, but it doesn’t appear to be too serious, and he could still play in their next game. Edoga was solid in relief for him. Vera-Tucker’s struggles in pass pro are a little concerning, but he’s been a very good run blocker this year and has the tools to get better with more experience as a pass blocker.
Cincinnati Bengals (Previous Rank: 16) – The Bengals might regret giving up a game vs. the Jets when all is said and done at the end of the year, but the o-line showed up for this game. However, the play of Trey Hopkins was a problem. He struggled in all aspects allowing three pressures, a sack, and two TFL. They got big games from their best three guys in Spain, Williams, and Reiff. Williams allowed no pressures and may have had his best game of the year, and Reiff was just as good only allowing one pressure. The Bengals remain a shaky run-blocking team, but they’ve consistently protected Burrow all year and currently rank 7th in PA%.
Pittsburgh Steelers (Previous Rank: 23) – Don’t look now, but the Steelers have a competent offensive line. They’ve held up in pass pro all year, but now they’ve even started to run block effectively. While there’s no standout player that’s playing great on this unit, Turner has played well of late, and so has Dotson. Green has one of the lower PA% among centers, and Okorafor is top 15 among tackles in PA%. The only player playing poorly at the moment for the Steelers is Dan Moore.
Chicago Bears (Previous Rank: 18) – The Bears o-line struggled in their loss to the 49ers. They allowed 13 pressures, two sacks, three TFL, and were penalized five times. Peters probably had the worst game of the group after putting together back-to-back strong efforts in previous weeks. He allowed five pressures, a sack, and a TFL. They really missed Germain Ifedi at RT. He’s been their second-best pass blocker, and with Wilkinson on the covid list as well, Larry Borom got his first start of the year and had some struggles. The problem with this offensive line is still consistency. At their best this season, they’ve looked like a top third o-line and at their worst a bottom third group.
Atlanta Falcons (Previous Rank: 21) – The Falcons struggled on offense vs. a good Panthers team, and the o-line played their role in those struggles. Matthews allowed a season high four pressures and had his worst game of the year. Lindstorm wasn’t great, and Jalen Mayfield continues to struggle. The good news is Hennessry, who’s mostly struggled this season, played his best game of the year. He’s put together back-to-back games without allowing a pressure and has started to move up in PA% after being near the bottom most of the year. Matthews won’t have many games like this, and while Lindstorm wasn’t bad, he’s capable of playing better.
Denver Broncos (Previous Rank: 26) – The Broncos o-line had a solid outing in their win over WSH. Bolles, Glasgow, and Massie all had good games. They only allowed one pressure between the two of them. However, Risner and Cushenberry struggled as they allowed six pressures combined. The Broncos interior pass-blocking has been an issue all year.
Seattle Seahawks (Previous Rank: 22) – The Seahawks o-line is allowing a lot of sacks. They allowed three more vs. the Jags. Duane Brown is tied for most sacks allowed in the NFL, and the Seattle line has allowed the fifth-most sacks. They also aren’t run blocking very well either. The good news for Seattle is Ethan Pocic is back in the lineup at center, and Kyle Fuller is back on the bench.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Previous Rank: 24) – The Jags don’t have a good offensive line, but Andrew Norwell is having a great year at least. He’s now first among guards in PA%.
Minnesota Vikings (Previous Rank: 25) – Kirk Cousins is getting beat up in the media for another Nat TV game loss, but the Vikings offensive line didn’t help matters much. They allowed 15 pressures at a rate of 34.1%. That’s higher than the Dolphins 33.3 PA% on the season which is the worst in the league. They can take some solace in the fact they ran-block well.
Detroit Lions (Previous Rank: 27) – The Lions lost again to make it 0-8. At this point, isn’t even worth it for Taylor Decker to ever come back? Then again, if Nelson is going to keep playing poorly, maybe it is worth it. He allowed six pressures and now leads the NFL with 34 allowed pressures. Right now, the Lions have to be thinking about the future, and the good news is Penei Sewell is trending in the right direction. He only allowed one pressure and has allowed five pressures in the last three games after allowing 11 in weeks four and five.
Las Vegas Raiders (Previous Rank: 29) – Bye Week
Carolina Panthers (Previous Rank: 28) – On the surface, one might see the Panthers allowed seven pressures (their first single-digit pressures allowed game since week two) and think they had a good game in pass pro. However, the Panthers only had 29 pass snaps, so their PA% for the game was 24%, which is about league average. So in a sense, that’s better than a lot of their past performances but still not great. It’s clear the Panthers coaching staff don’t trust Darnold or this o-line enough to throw any more than they have to right now.
New York Giants (Previous Rank: 30) – By their low standards, the Giants o-line had a good game on Monday night. However, it seems like no offensive line has had a bad game vs. the Chiefs yet. NY allowed 10 pressures and two sacks, so the pass pro wasn’t perfect, but Solder and Skura were solid, and Price was good. Hernandez was their biggest problem as he allowed four pressures. The Giants are quietly 16th in PA%.
Houston Texans (Previous Rank: 31) – The Texans o-line got dismantled by the Rams as expected. They allowed 16 pressures at a rate just under 35%. At this point, all they can do is wait for the return of Tunsil and Cannon.
Miami Dolphins (Previous Rank: 32) – Things are really bad when Austin Jackson, who entered the week allowing the most pressures in the NFL, has a game in which he allowed no pressures, and your o-line still allowed more pressures than any other o-line during the week. Almost all the damage came from the tackle positions as Eichenberg (6) and Davis (8) combined to allow 14 of the 17 allowed pressures. Eichenberg also allowed two sacks and is tied for most sacks allowed in the NFL. I honestly don’t know how the Dolphins can get an accurate account of how good Tua is behind this offensive line.