Some say the trenches are where the game is won and lost. If you believe that statement to be true, then this article is for you. Week 14 in the NFL, it's offensive line time. Let's get after it!
Washington plus 17.
The big upgrade this week comes as left tackle Trent Williams finished his four-game suspension and will be back in the lineup this weekend against Philadelphia. Williams had been dealing with various nagging injuries and while he was not happy to miss time, the month off has Williams feeling refreshed and healthier than he's been all season. It's not all sun and roses for the Washington offensive line, as center Spencer Long is in the concussion protocol (John Sullivan replaced him during last week's game) and left guard Shawn Lauvao is dealing with a groin injury. It is not certain that either starter will be in the lineup this week. Still, even if both players miss time, the Washington offensive line still rejoins the top tier with the return of their All-Pro left tackle.
Green Bay plus 10.
Good news out of Green Bay as right guard T.J. Lang (foot) and starting center J.C. Tretter (knee sprain) have returned to practice in a limited fashion. Lang has missed several games and he told reporters that his injury was actually a broken foot. Tretter has been out over a month with an MCL sprain and the five-week recovery period seems about right for his rehab. While their returns are not totally confirmed, Lang and Tretter look to be on track to rejoin the starting lineup this weekend against Seattle. Having these players in the lineup boosts the Packers' line to the top-tier once again.
Minnesota plus 3.
Starting center Joe Berger has been in the league's concussion protocol after missing last week's game against Dallas. Nick Easton did a decent job in relief of Berger, but he appeared to make a crucial snap-count mistake on what would have been the team's game-tying 2-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. Meanwhile, Berger practiced in a limited fashion on Tuesday but was missing on Wednesday. He is not officially out of the protocol, and this is a tough call to make early in the week. Still, signs point to Berger returning to health before this weekend's contest against Jacksonville. Either way the Vikings' offensive line remains a low-tier option.
Atlanta minus 5.
Left tackle Jake Matthews suffered a sprained knee during the contest last week against Kansas City. Tom Compton replaced Matthews during the game and Matthews has not been seen at practice since. This is another tough call to make early in the week but it feels like Matthews will be held out of the Rams contest and Compton could get the start. While Matthews has been outstanding this year, especially as a pass blocker, Compton can fill in for a week without much of a drop-off. Without Matthews, the drop in the rankings represents only a minor downgrade to what is still a top-tier offensive line.
Tampa Bay minus 7.
Although right tackle Demar Dotson played all of last week's game without incident, he was placed in the league's concussion protocol on Wednesday. Due to the late discovery of the injury, it appears doubtful that Dotson will be able to return to health in time for this weekend's contest at home against New Orleans. In Dotson's place, Gosder Cherilus will likely get the start. At one time, Cherilus (a former first round pick) graded out as a solid starter. However, those days appear to be long gone as Cherlius has struggled last season, and in limited action this season. Assuming Cherilus' current form is similar, the Tampa Bay offensive line drops several spots from the mid-tier to the low-tier, at least until Dotson returns to health.
New York (A) minus 15.
One week after elevating this unit due to the return of center Nick Mangold, the Jets' offensive line again is demoted, as Mangold will be put on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. Apparently, the ankle injury wasn't fully healed and the injury will require surgery in the offseason. Mangold's future will the team is in doubt, as he is 33 and can be cut next spring without cap penalty. Wesley Johnson takes Mangold's place in the lineup. With the team lacking their starting left tackle (Ryan Clady) and now their starting center, they drop to the bottom of the rankings.
OAK - RG Osemele limited in practice.
Despite being listed as questionable, Osemele is likely to play Thursday at Kansas City.
JAX - C Linder fighting an ankle injury.
Brandon Linder has missed two days of practice this week, but the rankings assume he will tape it up and play this weekend.
BUF - LT Glenn held out of practice again.
Glenn has been playing through a back injury all season and this day off is not unusual for him.
MIA - C Pouncey still injured but LT Albert gutting it out.
While there is still no sign of Mike Pouncey (Anthony Steen continues to start), left tackle Branden Albert has been pushing through a painful wrist injury and is unlikely to miss time.
Week 14 Matchups of Note
- 3rd PIT offensive line @ 19th BUF defensive front seven (+16)
- 16th CIN offensive line @ 32nd CLE defensive front seven (+16)
- 9th IND offensive line vs. 24th HOU defensive front seven (+15)
- 1st DAL offensive line @ 16th NYG defensive front seven (+15)
- 26th AZ offensive line @ 9th MIA defensive front seven (-17)
- 28th CHI offensive line @ 12th DET defensive front seven (-16)
- 22nd JAX offensive line vs. 6th MIN defensive front seven (-16)
Week 14 Offensive Line Rankings
|6||ATL||2||-4||30.05||A-||A-||A-||Matthews likely out.|
|7||WAS||24||17||29.78||B+||A-||B||Williams returns from susp.|
|8||GB||18||10||29.6||B+||B+||B+||Lang and Tretter likely return.|
|27||TB||20||-7||27.9||C-||C-||C-||Dotson likely out.|
|29||MIN||32||3||27.85||D+||C-||D||Berger likely returns.|
|31||NYJ||16||-15||27.23||D+||D+||D+||Mangold to IR.|
Week 14 Defensive Front Seven Rankings
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.