Power Ranking the Best Offensive Lines Remaining in the NFL Divisional Round

Marques Eversoll@MJEversollAnalyst IJanuary 8, 2013

Power Ranking the Best Offensive Lines Remaining in the NFL Divisional Round

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    Part of the recipe for a good football team is having a solid offensive line. Good offensive football teams need their quarterback upright and the ground game moving forward.

    Most of the teams remaining in the playoffs have terrific offensive lines. One could make an argument that all eight teams have an above-average offensive line.

    As far as a starting five goes, the San Francisco 49ers probably have the deepest line in football. Joe Staley and Anthony Davis are talented players on the outside, while Mike Iupati and Alex Boone control the interior on either side of center Jonathan Goodwin. It's probably the best unit in football.

    Let's take a look at how all eight playoff offensive lines stack up in these postseason power rankings.

8. Green Bay Packers (NFC No. 3 Seed)

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    With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers will always be one of the most dangerous teams in the playoffs. The only problem for Green Bay is that the offensive line isn’t much better than average.

    Right guard Josh Sitton is among the better guards in the NFL, and T.J. Lang is an emerging player at left guard as well. But at center, Jeff Saturday was benched for Evan Dietrich-Smith, leaving the Packers inexperienced in the middle of the line.

    But still, the Packers protected Rodgers just enough to earn 11 wins in the regular season and win the NFC North. This is a talented team, capable of winning another Super Bowl if the offensive line protects the quarterback.

7. Atlanta Falcons (NFC No. 1 Seed)

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    Atlanta is the No. 1 seed in the NFL for a reason. They have a deep and talented offense, and the defense is much improved under Mike Nolan. But most good teams are strong up front, and the Falcons are no exception.

    The Falcons have a pair of talented tackles in Tyson Clabo and Sam Baker. And with Todd McClure anchoring the line at center, Atlanta is able to run the ball as well as protect Matt Ryan.

    Atlanta faces a tough test against the Seattle Seahawks this week. Seattle will be without defensive end Chris Clemons, so the Falcons' offensive line could dominate in the run game as Bruce Irvin will be Clemons' replacement.

6. Denver Broncos (AFC No. 1 Seed)

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    Peyton Manning has instantly made the Denver Broncos one of the best teams in football. But last season, the Broncos made the playoffs with a very different offensive system with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

    The success the Broncos have had when utilizing multiple different systems shows truly how talented the offensive line is. Ryan Clady is one of the best pass-protecting left tackles in football, allowing Manning plenty of time to find receivers down the field.

    Football Outsiders ranks the Broncos as the No. 12 offensive line in football. This team has nothing to worry about up front.

5. Houston Texans (AFC No. 3 Seed)

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    In the beginning of the season, the Houston Texans were the most balanced team in football. The running game was working, the passing game was hot, and teams weren’t scoring on the defense.

    Since then, the Packers, as well as the Patriots, have torched the Texans’ secondary. But the offense is still capable of beating teams on the ground or through the air. The offensive line certainly isn’t the problem.

    Three Texans—Duane Brown, Wade Smith and Chris Myers—cracked the AFC Pro Bowl roster on the offensive line. The offensive line is one of the main assets to this 12-4 Texans team.

4. Baltimore Ravens (AFC No. 4 Seed)

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    The Ravens are heavy underdogs this week against the Denver Broncos. But if Baltimore is able to get past the Broncos, its offensive line will be a big reason why

    Ravens running back Ray Rice fumbled twice on Sunday against the Colts, but that’s uncharacteristic for him. If he’s running hard, the Ravens are a dangerous and balanced offense. Offensive guard Marshal Yanda is one of the best interior lineman in the league, anchoring a solid offensive line across the front five.

    Joe Flacco hasn’t been playing up to same level he was playing at in September, but the Ravens still have the pieces in place to upset the Broncos. It will just take a nearly flawless game from Baltimore on both sides of the ball.

3. New England Patriots (AFC No. 2 Seed)

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    Whenever a quarterback like Tom Brady is under center, he’s bound to get the majority of the credit for his team’s success. But the offensive line in New England deserves some recognition for been among the most consistent in football.

    Football Outsiders has the Patriots’ offensive line as the fourth-best unit in the NFL.

    New England has the most consistent offense in football with Brady at quarterback, and Stevan Ridley has been a pleasant surprise in the backfield. Behind a steady offensive line, it's easy to see why the Patriots are the No. 1 scoring team in football.

2. Seattle Seahawks (NFC No. 5 Seed)

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    Seattle boasts a capable passing game and a power run game. And the success of the offensive line is a big reason for their success.

    The best of the bunch in Seattle is center Max Unger, according to Pro Football Focus. Left tackle Russell Okung made the Pro Bowl this season for the Seahawks. Football Outsiders ranks the Seahawks’ offensive line third in the league, behind the 49ers and Giants.

    The Atlanta Falcons aren’t known for their ability to get after the passer, so Seattle should negate any reliable pass rush on Sunday. The Seahawks may be the hottest team in football, and the offensive line is the engine that makes Seattle’s train move.

1. San Francisco 49ers (NFC No.2 Seed)

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    The 49ers are a strong running team, and they’re capable of stretching the field with the passing game. Both of these things aren’t possible without a dominant offensive line.

    San Francisco has perhaps the best offensive line in the NFL. Football Outsiders graded the 49ers’ line as No. 1 in the NFL throughout the regular season, just ahead of the New York Giants.

    Left tackle Joe Staley anchors the offensive line and ranks as the top-rated offensive tackle in football, according to Pro Football Focus. Right tackle Anthony Davis grades out as the No. 11 tackle in football. 

    In fact, all five of San Francisco’s starting offensive linemen grade out in the top 11 at their respective positions, according to Pro Football Focus. They’ll face a tough test in Clay Matthews this week, but this San Francisco offensive line is tough.