Another exciting week is in the books and there’s quite a bit of offensive line news. There are upgrades, downgrades, and the ever-popular Week 6 match-ups of note. Let’s get after it.
Miami plus 17.
With a bye week to rest after their loss in London, the Dolphins got some good news as left tackle Branden Albert is likely to return in the contest against Tennessee. Albert had a lingering hamstring problem which he believes was related to last year’s knee surgery. However Albert has been practicing and has told beat writers he will play in Week 6. Despite the team’s recent problems, getting back a starting left tackle is a sure-fire way to get upgraded in the offensive line rankings. In other news, the new head coach Dan Campbell has been giving Billy Turner more reps in practice and the team could be looking at a lineup change at the guard position, where both Dallas Thomas and Jamil Douglas have struggled. The Dolphins are now ranked 13th, which is a seventeen slot upgrade from last week’s ranking.
Chicago plus 15.
Left tackle Jermon Bushrod has finally passed the concussion protocol and is going to return to the lineup this week at Detroit. As with the Miami news, getting back a starting left tackle is going to be a huge upgrade There are only so many of these types in the league and few teams have adequate backup left tackles. Charles Leno did decently in his place but he will return to the bench. In other news, rookie center Hroniss Grasu received praise for his debut performance in last week’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs. Grasu is likely to hold the position going forward, and this allows Matt Slauson to slide back to his natural left guard position. The Bears check in at 14th in the rankings, a fifteen slot upgrade since last week.
New Orleans plus 11.
This is another case of a team getting healthier. The Saints can expect both guard Jahri Evans and left tackle Terron Armstead to return for Thursday night. Armstead practiced on Tuesday and while the team could hold him out for another week, their season is slipping away and this divisional matchup against the Falcons is a big game for that team. Although Andrus Peat played well in Armstead’s place, they need the starter back as soon as possible. In other news, starting guard Tim Lelito is likely out with a shoulder injury, and the team will suffer a small let down with Senio Kelemete still in the lineup. Still, this is good news overall for the Saints, who rise eleven slots in the rankings, to reside at 4th overall.
Denver plus three.
The team expects left tackle Ty Sambrailo to return to lineup, this week at Cleveland. Without this player, the Broncos were forced to shuffle the lineup, moving Ryan Harris over from the right side and starting Michael Schofield. It’s better for cohesion and their ranking if all the starters return to their normal positions. With this player in the lineup, the Broncos check in at 15th overall, a three slot upgrade from last week.
New England minus five.
The Patriots received some bad news this week as starting left tackle Nate Solder was placed on injured reserve with a torn bicep. Marcus Cannon replaced Solder in the lineup and did decently in the game against the Cowboys. Still Cannon is more of a right tackle and the team could look at further changes to bolster the lineup. For example, they could move Sebastian Vollmer to the left side, or scour the trade possibilities around the league. It should be noted that Tom Brady is statistically the quickest quarterback in getting the ball out of his hands, and no matter how bad this offensive line gets, the passing game will still produce numbers. The running attack however is a different story. In other news, the team should be getting Ryan Wendell back from injury sooner rather than later, however it is not clear that Wendell will rejoin the starting lineup. The Patriots fall five slots to 30th overall in the latest offensive line rankings.
Tampa Bay minus eleven.
The Bucs’ offensive line is suffering from two key injuries: Left guard Logan Mankins left last week’s game and Kevin Pamphile replaced him. In addition, center Joe Hawley has been playing in place of starter Evan Smith for several weeks. Although the running attack looked good against the Jaguars, and this could be the start of something productive for the team, the personnel on the line is getting thin. The bye week comes a good point for this unit and be sure to check in next week to see if any starters return to the lineup. Without these players, the Buccaneers drop eleven slots to 28th overall in the latest offensive line rankings.
Detroit minus six.
The Lions have been missing their best lineman in Larry Warford for several games. However the team did draft a first round guard in Laken Tomlinson and the drop off should not have been this huge. The true reason for this downgrade to the low tier has been the penalties, committed too much and by nearly every player on the line. The line is just not helping this team right now. An example of this is center Travis Swanson rolling up Eric Ebron and injuring one of the offensive targets for quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Lions currently reside at 22nd overall, a six slot drop in the latest offensive line rankings.
San Diego minus one.
The silver lining of being one of the worst lines in football is that there isn’t far to fall when the bad news continues. The Chargers' line, which has been absolutely decimated by injury this season, added another to the list as Chris Hairston (who was starting at left tackle for King Dunlap) exited Monday Night Football with an ankle injury. Without this player the team shuffled Joe Barksdale over to left tackle and put Kenny Wiggins at right tackle. Chris Watt has been playing left guard in the place of Orlando Franklin and Trevor Robinson has been starting at center for Watt. Can’t keep track? Join the club. The Chargers check in at 31st in the latest offensive line rankings.
St. Louis minus one.
UPDATE 10/15: Saffold was placed on season ending injured reserve.
Already second to last in the offensive line rankings, the Rams drop that final spot to dead last with the news that veteran Rodger Saffold has suffered a shoulder injury and is out indefinitely. Saffold has a history of problems with that joint and although the team hasn’t made any remarks one way or the other, there’s a chance this could be a season ending injury. Saffold is one of the few veteran players on the Rams' line and his loss will be tough to overcome. A street free agent two weeks ago, Garrett Reynolds replaces Saffold in the lineup.
Week 6 Match-ups Of Note
POSITIVE MATCHUPS TO TRUST:
- 4th NO O-Line vs. 27th ATL defensive front seven (+23).
- 9th PHI O-Line vs. 26th NYG defensive front seven (+17).
- 2nd CLE O-Line vs. 17th DEN defensive front seven (+15).
- 6th HOU O-Line @ 20th JAX defensive front seven (+14).
- 10th AZ O-Line @ 24th PIT defensive front seven (+14).
NEGATIVE MATCHUPS TO FADE:
- 27th IND O-Line vs. 2nd NE defensive front seven (-25).
- 26th MIN O-Line vs. 3rd KC defensive front seven (-23).
- 29th SEA O-Line vs. 11th CAR defensive front seven (-18).
- 20th CAR O-Line @ 1st SEA defensive front seven (-19)
- 24th TEN O-Line vs. 7th MIA defensive front seven (-17).
A look back on Week 5 Match-ups Of Note:
The predictions were 7-4 last week, bringing the yearly total to 35 good and 21 bad. If we take out the first two weeks, when this model was finding its sea legs, so to speak, the predictions were 26 good and only 11 bad in the last three weeks. The ratio has been about 2:1, we hope to get it to about 3:1 as the year continues.
DAL - La'el Collins to LG.
The Cowboys have elevated Collins to the starting lineup, over Ronald Leary. The writing had been on the wall with this change since the team acquired Collins after the draft. There’s no change at this time to the Cowboys’ ranking, who remain 1 overall.
GB - TJ Lang knee injury.
Starting guard TJ Lang has a knee injury. It is not clear if he will miss any time. If he does, Josh Walker would replace Lang and that would be a downgrade. However Lang is tough and I’m betting he guts it out and plays this weekend against the Chargers.
PHI - Signed Tanner Hawkinson from the 49ers’ taxi squad.
The Eagles picked up tackle depth behind the nicked up Lane Johnson, when they poached Tanner Hawkinson from the 49ers’ practice squad. Fun fact, Hawkinson’s nickname is “Ricky Bobby” after the Will Farrell character in Talladega Nights. Julian Vandervelde was waived to make room.
SF - looking for Devey replacements. Kilgore almost back.
The Niners line could be auditioning replacements for right guard Jordan Devey, with Trent Brown looking like the leading alternative. Daniel Kilgore is almost back to full speed, and he could also be in the mix to start, upon his return to full health.
TEN - Taylor Lewan playing with upper body injury
Lewan left last week’s game with what was at the time called an arm injury, but is now being called a stinger. This injury will likely linger and could be the type that requires surgery after the season. Lewan will likely play hurt and there’s no downgrade to the Titans’ line 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 6 Offensive Line Rankings
|TOP TIER||1||DAL||1||0||32.9||A+||A+||A||Collins to LG.|
|4||NO||11||7||31.15||A-||A-||B+||Armstead, Evans return|
|LOW TIER||22||DET||16||-6||28.1||B-||B-||B-||Warford out, penalties.|
|28||TB||17||-11||27.53||D+||D+||D+||Mankins, Smith out.|
|30||NE||25||-5||26.85||D||D||D-||Solder on IR.|
Week 6 Defensive Front Seven Rankings
|5||New York (A)|
|12||Detroit||Levy possibly out for year.|
|17||Denver||Ware out a at least 2 weeks.|
|26||New York (N)|