In today's fantasy-obsessed football world, it's easy to overlook the contributions of one position group: offensive line. Well, NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara is here to fix that. Following each batch of games, O'Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all the teams that played and ultimately select that week's top five units, headlined by a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The rankings that you see below reflect O'Hara's pecking order for Week 15 and Week 15 alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for 2018. This is NOT a projection into the future. The goal of this weekly column is to answer one simple question: Which five offensive lines stood out above the rest in last week's action?
Without further ado, the Week 15 winner is ...
Oh, Henry 2.0!
For the second straight week, Tennessee used its physical run game to dominate the opponent, with a 17-0 road win over the Giants. The frigid, wet conditions in New Jersey were perfect for pounding the rock, as the Titans amassed 215 rushing yards -- thanks, in large part, to another monster outing by Derrick Henry (33 carries, 170 yards, two touchdowns). His 408 rushing yards over the last two weeks are the most in a two-game span in Titans/Oilers history, passing Earl Campbell's 405 yards in two games back in 1980. That's a remarkable feat, considering this franchise's history of good running backs, including Eddie George and Chris Johnson (a.k.a. CJ2K). Henry and Co. had the pleasure of running behind a unit that was crowned as the best run-blocking group of Week 15 by Pro Football Focus. Tennessee has averaged 239.5 rushing yards per game over the last two weeks -- a spectacular jump from the team's ground average over the first 12 games of the season (112.7).
Marcus Mariota had just 88 passing yards against the Giants, his second-lowest total of the season, but he didn't need to do much with the stellar ground attack showing out. It was so dominant that the Titans threw just seven passes in the second half (two in the fourth quarter) -- and two of those passes were screens, while another was a shovel pass. Still, offensive line was the sixth-best pass-blocking unit of the week, per PFF. The Tennessee front didn't give up a single sack or quarterback hit, yielding just two pressures -- the least amount of pressures this week by any unit.
One of the most notable aspects of the line's performance was Dennis Kelly's effort while starting at right tackle in place of Jack Conklin, who was put on IR last week. In his third start of the season, Kelly didn't allow a single pressure and was phenomenal in the run game. Center Ben Jones had an equally impressive performance in the pass and run games.
This is a scary offense for any D to face right now, at a time when most teams have to deal with injuries and bad weather. The Titans are just picking up steam.
The rest of the top O-lines from Week 15
Atlanta Falcons: Despite having guys at left guard, right guard and right tackle who didn't open this season as starters, the Falcons snapped a five-game skid by putting up a 40-burger for the first time in 2018. Atlanta piled up 435 total yards in the 40-14 beatdown of Arizona, including 215 yards on the ground. Tevin Coleman enjoyed quite a day running the football, with 11 carries for 145 yards (13.2 yards per carry) and a rushing TD. Matt Ryan was well-protected, as the offense averaged 6.7 yards per play behind an O-line that allowed just five pressures. The Cardinals had two sacks in the game, but neither was credited to Atlanta's offensive line, which hasn't allowed a sack or quarterback hit in two straight games. Ty Sambrailo has done well the last two weeks when filling in for right tackle Ryan Schraeder. Center Alex Mack didn't allow a pressure -- he and left guard Wes Schweitzer excelled in the run game.
Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore is playing smashmouth football, while controlling the line of scrimmage and the clock. The Bucs' defense has struggled against the run all year, and the Ravens took full advantage, amassing 242 rushing yards in a 20-12 win. Undrafted rookie Gus Edwards continued to impress with 19 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, while Lamar Jackson had 18 carries for 95 yards. The offensive line also excelled in pass protection, as Tampa Bay couldn't muster a single sack or quarterback hit. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley and left guard James Hurst didn't allow a single pressure. Meanwhile, rookie right tackle Orlando Brown Jr. has been steady all season, proving Ozzie Newsome still knows how to nail the draft. Brown has given up one quarterback hit and zero sacks this season.
Indianapolis Colts: The Colts make the list after an impressive 23-0 shutout of Dallas. They racked up 370 yards of offense -- with 178 yards on the ground -- and went 8-for-12 on third down. Marlon Mack led the way with 27 carries for 139 yards (both career highs) and two touchdowns behind PFF's third-best run-blocking O-line of the week. Indy's front was outstanding against the Cowboys' stout run defense, deftly handling Dallas' stunts and movements.
What kept the Colts' O-line from taking the cake this week? Three penalties and five pressures. Guards Quenton Nelson and Joe Haeg allowed a three pressures combined, but excelled in the run game alongside center Ryan Kelly. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo had his best game of the year, not giving up a single pressure against an imposing pass rush.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Fueled largely by an impressive performance from rookie running back Jaylen Samuels, Pittsburgh gashed the New England Patriots all game long and logged 376 yards of total offense. The Steelers, who ranked 29th in rushing and had one of the lowest run percentages in the NFL entering the game, totally shifted their philosophy and ran the ball a respectable 41 percent of the time against the Patriots. The offensive line was the fifth-best run-blocking unit in Week 15, per Pro Football Focus.
The unit was also named the PFF's second-best pass-blocking group of the week, not allowing a sack. Individually, left tackle Alejandro Villanueva struggled a bit and gave up four pressures, while LG Ramon Foster and C Maurkice Pouncey didn't allow a single pressure. Foster, who hasn't allowed a sack since Week 2, had his best game of the season by keeping Ben Roethlisberger clean on 38 pass plays. Pouncey hasn't allowed a sack since Week 1. RG David DeCastro had another solid performance run blocking and continues to shine as one of the best pulling linemen in the league.