The World Series is finally over, which means more time for football. There is a great deal of #offensiveline news this week, so let's get after it!
New Orleans plus 9.
Left tackle Terron Armstead did play week 8 against the Seahawks, as did left guard Andrus Peat. Getting both starters back in their intended positions is a boost to cohesion. It should be noted that Armstead is playing in pain, and told reporters that his knee likely wouldn't be right until the offseason. Still, even a hurt Armstead is the best of all the Saints' options. With their left tackle back in the lineup, the Saints' again grade out as a top-tier unit.
Pittsburgh plus 9.
The Steelers are likely getting back their starting right tackle Marcus Gilbert, and his return to practice was a huge boost to the lineup. Chris Hubbard had been decent in Gilbert's place, but he's more naturally a guard and had been playing out of position. The team has missed Gilbert, and perhaps it is no coincidence they went 0-2 without their starting right tackle. With "big Gil" back in the lineup, to protect "Big Ben" as he likely returns at quarterback at Baltimore, the Steelers' line rejoins the top-tier.
Denver plus 11.
This upgrade to the Broncos' offensive line is primarily due to a grade increase to starting center Matt Paradis. Some sources are calling Paradis the best center in the league right now. Whether that's true or not is yet to be determined, but clearly, he's underrated by most casual onlookers. The proof is in the pudding as the Broncos' rushing attack shows no sign of slowing, despite replacing starting running backs nearly every week. Paradis should be on pace for a Pro Bowl selection, and the Broncos' line continues to cohere together and climb the rankings. They currently sit at 14th, just outside the top tier.
Kansas City plus 11.
Starting left guard Parker Ehinger is expected to go to the injured-reserve list this week after sustaining an ACL injury to his right knee in last Sunday's game against Indianapolis. Zach Fulton replaced him in the game and is the next man up in the lineup. So, why are the Chiefs' being upgraded? The first reason is because Fulton is a veteran former starter who grades out similarly to Ehinger in our model. But the main reason is because starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz has recovered from his ankle injury. Schwartz participated in practice this week and is likely to be in the lineup this weekend against Jacksonville.
New York (A) plus 7.
Going into their crucial divisional contest at Miami this weekend, the Jets' offensive line is still without starting center Nick Mangold. Mangold is out of his walking boot, which is good news, but it's not clear that he will play this week. Nonetheless, the line gets a boost due to the return of Breno Giacomini from the PUP list. Giacomini has been the starting right tackle for two seasons but his back was not healthy enough until this week for him to play. Giacomini rotated with Ben Ijalana last week but the line, even without Mangold, produced 171 yards rushing last week at Cleveland. Fans are down on this player due to his salary and perceived problems with penalties last season, but getting a starter back is always good news. After a brief stay in the low-tier, the Jets' offensive line again grade out as a mid-tier unit.
Washington minus 22.
The biggest downgrade of the week occurs in Washington, where starting left tackle Trent Williams was suspended four games for missing a drug test. Williams is a perennial All-Pro and it is a huge loss to be without this player for the heart of the schedule. In his place, Ty Nsekhe will likely get the start. Nsekhe is solid but no Williams. In other worrisome news, right tackle Morgan Moses left the contest in London last week with an ankle injury. The team is on a bye during week 9 so we will have time to revisit that situation in the future and make sure Moses is still in the lineup. Without their best lineman, and possibly the best player on the entire squad, Washington' offensive line drops from top-tier all the way to the low-tier.
Arizona minus 18.
Last week in this article, the Cardinals' line was upgraded. The last sentence in that upgrade paragraph said that the line would continue to be a strong unit "if they stay healthy." One week later, disaster has struck as starting left tackle Jared Veldheer was placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury. Veldheer tore his left triceps several seasons ago, this was his right triceps, so it was at least some good news in that it was the other arm. John Wetzel relieved Veldheer during the game and will likely start going forward. Wetzel is an interesting prospect who has done well at guard in place of Mike Iupati, but this is a huge ask for this player to step in at left tackle. Without Veldheer, the Cardinals' offensive line grade out as a low-tier option.
Chicago minus 5.
The two best players on the Bears' offensive line in Josh Sitton and Kyle Long missed the last contest against Minnesota. In their places, Eric Kush and Ted Larsen started, respectively. Kush and Larsen are actually decent vets, compared to others who are being pushed into service around the league. Going into the bye week, the model assumes that Sitton and Long will remain out. But this is a situation that bears further monitoring and it could very well be an upgrade for the Bears' offensive line going into Week 10 or whenever those key players return.
Carolina minus 12.
Starting center Ryan Kalil left last week's game with a shoulder injury and his status for the "homecoming" game at Los Angeles is in doubt. Kalil grew up in that town and played his college ball at USC. He obviously wants to play in this game very badly, but the team might not let him risk it, and instead give Gino Gradkowski the start. In related news, starting left tackle Michael Oher remains in the concussion protocol but he was seen at the stadium laughing and smiling, so he might be rejoining the lineup soon. Side note, this is a murky situation and exactly why writing this article on a Thursday is very difficult. We could easily see both of those players in the lineup (and the Panthers' line would shoot up the rankings) or we could see neither. This week we are erring on the side of caution and projecting that Remmers and Gradkowski get the start. But monitor the situation closely for gameday inactive lists about an hour before kickoff.
Minnesota minus 1.
The main reason for this downgrade is that highly paid left guard Alex Boone is in the league's concussion protocol and his status for this weekend's game against Detroit is unclear. In his place, Zac Kerin would normally get the start, but he missed Wednesday and Thursday's practice with an injury. The bottom is really falling out of the Vikings' offensive line this season, and after a bunch of injuries, they are currently in the conversation for worst in the league.
IND - 3 of top 6 linemen miss practice.
Jack Mewhort (tricep), Joe Reitz (concussion) and Denzelle Good (knee) all missed Wednesday's practice and could miss the game this weekend at Green Bay. They are a low-tier line without those players, and maybe a mid-tier line with all three of them. The rankings currently assume that Good will start but the other two will not. They might be ranked lower than they should be this week. Again, remember to check the inactives list on Sunday.
GB - C J.C. Tretter hurt but likely to play.
Starting center J.C. Tretter's leg was rolled up against Atlanta. Tests after the game revealed a mild MCL sprain. Tretter could still play but Corey Linsley would replace Tretter if he can't go. Both players grade out similarly. In related news, T.J. lang still fighting a hip injury but playing through it.
DET - RT Reily Reiff playing sick.
Riley Reiff missed Wednesday's practice due to illness. He played with it against Texans but had to be benched for a few series.
PHI - LG Barbre hurt, Wisniewski to replace.
Left guard Allen Barbre suffered a hamstring strain during last week's contest at Dallas. He is called "week to week" by the coaching staff. Stefen Wisniewski will likely get the start this week against New York (N). These players grade out similarly, hence no change to the rankings.
CIN - RT Ogbuehi's leash is getting shorter.
Right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi was replaced by Eric Winston for two series during last weeks' tie in London. Ogbuehi remains the starter but this situation bears further observation.
Week 9 Matchups of Note
- 1st DAL offensive line @ 32nd CLE defensive front seven (+31)
- 9th GB offensive line vs. 30th IND defensive front seven (+21)
- 5th NO offensive line @ 25th SF defensive front seven (+20)
- 11th BAL offensive line @ 28th PIT defensive front seven (+17)
- 18th TEN offensive line @ 31st SD defensive front seven (+13)
- 23rd LA offensive line vs. 1st CAR defensive front seven (-22)
- 31st MIN offensive line @ 12th DET defensive front seven (-19)
- 22nd JAX offensive line @ 10th KC defensive front seven (-12)
- 32nd SEA offensive line vs. 20th BUF offensive line (-12)
Week 9 Offensive Line Rankings
|5||NO||14||9||30.65||A-||B+||A||Armstead & Peat return.|
|14||DEN||25||11||29.23||B||B||B||Paradis playing great.|
|17||KC||28||11||28.9||B-||B||B-||Schwartz in, Ehinger out.|
|24||WAS||2||-22||28.15||C-||C||C-||Williams suspended 4 games.|
|26||AZ||8||-18||28.08||C-||C||D+||Veldheer to IR.|
|27||IND||26||-1||27.83||C-||C||D+||Mewhort, Reitz still out.|
|29||CHI||24||-5||26.9||D+||C||D+||Sitton and Long out.|
|31||MIN||30||-1||26.1||D+||C-||D+||Boone likely out.|
Week 9 Defensive Front Seven Rankings
|10||Kansas City||Houston at practice.|
|15||New York (A)|
|17||New York (N)|
|19||New Orleans||Rankins at practice.|
|26||Dallas||McClain sus. 2 gms.|
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.
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