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Offensive Line Rankings and Notes: Week 11

Updates on injuries and other offensive line related news, prior to week eleven of the regular season.

Week 10 was full of unexpected surprises. There's just a ton of line news, so let's get right to it:

Upgrades

Houston plus 2.

Oft injured left guard Xavier Su'a-Filo made his fourth career start this week in the win over the Bengals on Monday Night Football. Su'a-Filo is a small upgrade to Oday Aboushi, who had been starting in his place. The coaches had compliments for Su'a-Filo, who overcame a rough start to settle in and play well. If this player can develop it will be good news for the Houston Texans' offensive line. With the upgrade to personnel, the line checks in at 4th overall in the rankings.

Arizona plus 3.

Although we had previously downgraded this unit based on the injuries of starting center Lyle Sendlein, the former Longhorn toughed it out and played last week in the win over Seattle. Most will wonder what happened to Mike Iupati, who was taken off the field via ambulance last week. Iupati was diagnosed with a "bad stinger" and has already been cleared for Week 11. As such we are keeping him in the rankings, and assuming he will play. It should be noted that looking at the practice reports and trying to figure out who will play is one of the most difficult part of ranking these offensive lines on a week-to-week basis. We do our best, but it is an inexact science. With Sendlein back in the lineup (some would say he never left but so what) and Iupati looking like he will play, the Cardinals check in at 7th overall in the offensive line rankings. 11/20 Update: Jonathan Cooper has been ruled out for sunday's game. Ted Larsen will play in his place. They grade out roughly the same (Larsen has more experience, Cooper has more upside). There's no further changes to the rankings this week, will revisit the situation in Week 12.

Cincinnati plus 5.

The Bengals got some good news when starting right tackle Andre Smith rejoined the team at practice. Eric Winston had been doing a half decent job in his place, but his best football is clearly behind him. Winston had been compromised in several passing situations and is penalty prone. While not perfect, Smith is a far better player in both the run and the pass game. With a starter returning to the lineup, the Bengals' line is ranked 9th overall, a gain of 5 spots.

Chicago plus 3.

There is no specific personnel or injury reason to upgrade this unit. However based on their recent play, especially the work of center Matt Slauson, the Bears' offensive line is upgraded three spots to 17th overall in the rankings. This line is clearly coming together, and getting the job done as the season progresses.

Buffalo plus 3.

Another non personnel specific upgrade, the Bills' offensive line has done a real good job lately. Of special note has been the right side of John Miller and Seantrel Henderson, opening up huge holes in the running game for LeShon McCoy. Center Eric Wood has also been playing well and in general the line is really coming together. This is an upgrade based on improvements in cohesion and form. The Bills are 18th, up three slots from last week's rankings.

San Diego plus 3.

The Chargers received excellent news as their big ticket free agent addition, left guard Orlando Franklin returned to practice. Franklin appears to be on target to play this week at home against Kansas City. Getting Franklin back could be huge for Phillip Rivers, who has been hit hard this season without all his starting offensive linemen. There is no sign that left tackle King Dunlap will return this week, but the line is taking baby steps toward full health. This move puts Kenny Wiggins back on the bench (where he belongs), and the Chargers' line sees a small upgrade to 27th overall in the offensive line rankings, up three spots. 11/20 Update: D.J. Fluker suffered a concussion during practice. It is the third time this has happened, all of the injuries have occured in practice. Wiggins could take his spot in the lineup. This probably drops them a spot or two, will revisit the rankings in Week 12.

New England plus 2.

The Patriots received good news this week as Sebastian Vollmer, Tre Jackson and Marcus Cannon all returned to practice. All three should start, if healthy. The Patriots had been starting a hodge-podge line without these players, and while the offense clearly is producing, Tom Brady has been sacked more times through week 10  than his total sacks of last season. With these guys back in the lineup, the Patriots' line bumps up two spots to 30th overall. As this line plays together, it could build cohesion and rise further, as the season progresses.

Downgrades

Green Bay minus 2.

The Packers' offensive line is banged up. Left tackle David Bakhtiari left the game last week against Detroit, and Don Barclay replaced him in the lineup. Bakhtiari is practicing and will likely play this week, but the line has other problems as both T.J. Lang and Bryan Bulaga are playing hurt. It is not clear if any of these players are going to actually miss the game but that won't stop a downgrade based on performance. Although the lineup doesn't change very much in Green Bay, clearly the line's effectiveness is being hampered by injury. The line has been exposed in the passing attack and quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been taking a ton of hits. With several starters playing hurt, the Packers' line drops two spots to 5th overall.

Baltimore minus 1.

The starting center Jeremy Zuttah has been placed on injured reserve with a partially torn pectoral muscle. The team had given some thought to having Zuttah play through the injury, but decided instead to have him undergo surgery this week. In his place, John Urschel will get the start, with Ryan Jensen backing him up. Fans will remember Urschel's struggles with the shotgun snap the last time he got this chance, but he has assured the beat writers that he has been working on it and the team doesn't seem concerned with having this player start. Urschel is an extremely smart player and shouldn't have a problem with the blocking schemes.  Without their starter, the Ravens' line falls one spot, to 8th overall in the offensive line rankings.

New Orleans minus 6.

The Saints' line is another unit which is banged up, as the left side of Tim Lelito (shoulder) and Terron Armstead (knee) are clearly playing in pain. Once the game against Washington was out of reach, Andrus Peat finished the game in place of Armstead. Armstead has been hampered by a knee injury and the injury is starting to effect his play. The Saints have other options for example Peat and Senio Kelemete for Lelito, and that makes the unit better off than other teams, who don't have such talented backups. However with the starters playing hurt, the Saints' line is downgraded to 10th overall, a six slot drop.  

Philadelphia minus 11.

Left tackle Jason Peters has missed the last two games, and did not practice on Wednesday. I have to take responsibility for not downgrading this unit sooner. Peters had been in and out of practice and comments from the coaching staff seemed to indicate that this player would be in the lineup. However, after missing his second game with a back injury, it is time to err on the side of caution and seriously downgrade the Eagles' offensive line. They are simply not the same unit without Peters, and the proof was in the pudding, as quarterback Sam Bradford got injured last week against the Dolphins. Without Peters, Lane Johnson actually does a decent job shifting to the left side, and this could be a preview of what life will look like once the team moves on from their All-Pro left tackle. However Dennis Kelly is not starter quality and even besides the tackles, the offensive line in general has been underperforming. Head Coach Chip Kelly has been starting players like Matt Tobin and Andrew Gardner, and these guys didn't actually earn their positions and it's not clear if they would be starters on other teams. The line has been shoddy and penalty prone and this downgrade was long overdue. The Eagles' line currently sits at 20th overall, an eleven slot downgrade. 11/20 Update: Peters practiced on Wednesday and Thursday in a limited fashion but was held out Friday. It's possible he suffered a setback. This is somewhat of a guess but still feel comfortable leaving him out of the lineup for this week. Even if he does play, he clearly is not 100%. His back problems are shaping up to be a season long issue.

St Louis minus 1.

One of the few bright spots of the Rams' offensive line, Jamon Brown, is out for the season with a fractured leg. In his place steps either Andrew Donnal or Cody Wichmann. It will likely be Donnal but neither are good options. The team signed Eric Kush and Brian Folkerts (both centers) and could be looking at hustling one or both players into the lineup, as starting center Tim Barnes has been pretty bad this season. Right tackle Rob Havenstein was initially labelled week-to-week with a calf injury but he did practice on Wednesday. It doesn't really matter as the Rams' line already rank among the league's worst, with or without Havenstein. In light of recent news, the Rams' line is downgraded again to the lowest spot in the rankings, 32nd overall.

Week 11 Match-Up's of Note.

TRUST:

  • 12th KC O-Line @ 31st SD defensive front seven (+19).
  • 9th CIN O-Line @ 28th AZ defensive front seven (+19).
  • 3rd OAK O-Line @ 13th DET defensive front seven (+10).

FADE:

  • 32nd STL O-Line @ 7th BAL defensive front seven (-25).
  • 27th SD O-Line vs. 3rd KC defensive front seven (-24).
  • 23rd SF O-Line @ 1st SEA defensive front seven (-22).
  • 18th BUF O-Line @ 2nd NE defensive front seven (-16).

A look back on Week 10 Match-up's of Note.

Last week's predictions went 3-6 (ouch), bringing the tally to 56 good predictions and 44 bad ones on the year.  The standards for what makes a good prediction and a bad one are very tight, and there were several near misses (less than 10 yards) that would have made the record more like 5-4 or 6-3. Let's hope for better luck this week.

Other News

SEA - C Patrick Lewis in for Drew Nowak

Nowak has been injured. Neither player grade out that well, so there is no change to the Seattle ranking at this time.

TB - RG Ali Marpet cleared for drills

Ali Marpet has been practicing but it is not entirely clear that he will play this weekend against Philadelphia. The verbiage that he was "only" cleared for drills means the team is likely taking a cautious approach. Marpet remans out of the rankings for now.

NYG - Justin Pugh late scratch with an illness

In his place, John Jerry started vs NE. Weston Richburg also left the game with an ankle injury. The Giants hosted several interior linemen for tryouts, including Donald Thomas, formerly of the Colts.  The team is on their bye week, so there is no change the rankings at this time.

 As usual, if you have a question about a team not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact me via twitter or in the Shark Pool. 

Week 11 Offensive Line Rankings

  Rank Team Old Diff Score Grade Run Pass Notes                       
TOP TIER 1 DAL 1 0 32.9 A+ A+ A  
2 CLE 2 0 31.6 A A A-  
3 OAK 5 2 30.78 A- A- B+  
4 HOU 6 2 30.73 A- A- B+ Su'a-Filo starting. 
5 GB 3 -2 30.6 A A A Several starters playing hurt. 
6 NYJ 8 2 30.6 B+ B+ B  
7 AZ 10 3 30.45 B+ B+ B Sendlein in lineup. 
8 BAL 7 -1 30.28 B+ B+ B+ Zuttah to IR. 
9 CIN 14 5 30.15 B+ B+ B A. Smith practicing. 
10 NO 4 -6 29.9 B B- B+ Armstead & Lelito playing hurt. 
11 WAS 13 2 29.78 B B+ B  
MID TIER 12 KC 11 -1 29.65 B B- B+  
13 MIA 12 -1 29.55 B B B+  
14 JAX 15 1 29.15 B- B- B  
15 CAR 16 1 29.1 B- B B-  
16 TB 17 1 28.9 B- B B-  
17 CHI 20 3 28.9 B- B- B- Upgrade to cohesion. 
18 BUF 21 3 28.65 C C C- Upgrade to cohesion. 
19 TEN 18 -1 28.6 C C- C  
20 PHI 9 -11 28.48 C C C- Peters not practicing. 
21 DET 19 -2 28.48 C C- C  
LOW TIER 22 DEN 22 0 28.23 C C C-  
23 SF 23 0 28.23 C C C-  
24 NYG 24 0 28.1 C- C- C  
25 IND 27 2 28.1 C- C- C  
26 ATL 25 -1 28.05 C- C C-  
27 SD 30 3 27.65 C- D D O. Franklin practicing.
28 MIN 26 -2 27.6 C- C C-  
29 SEA 28 -1 27.53 C- C- D+  
30 NE 32 2 27.1 C- C- D+ Vollmer & Cannon back. 
31 PIT 29 -2 26.9 D D D  
32 STL 31 -1 26.23 D- D D- Brown to IR. 

Week 11 Defensive Front Seven Rankings

RANK TEAM                      NOTES                 
1 Seattle  
2 New England  
3 Kansas City  
4 Buffalo  
5 Philadelphia  
6 New York (A)  
7 Baltimore  
8 Miami  
9 St. Louis  
10 Houston  
11 Minnesota  
12 Carolina  
13 Detroit  
14 Denver  
15 Washington  
16 Tampa Bay  
17 Dallas  
18 Cincinnati  
19 Green Bay  
20 San Francisco  
21 Cleveland  
22 Tennessee  
23 Pittsburgh  
24 Oakland  
25 Jacksonville Marks to IR. 
26 New York (N)  
27 Atlanta  
28 Arizona  
29 Indianapolis  
30 Chicago  
31 San Diego  
32 New Orleans