NFL Power Rankings Week 6: In The Trenches, Ranking All 32 Offensive Lines
In baseball, it's said that championships are won on pitching and defense.
In the National Football League they are won in the trenches. Control the line of scrimmage and you control the game. Control the game and you ultimately control your destiny.
If there is one position in the NFL that gets the least amount of glory, it would have to be the offensive line.
About the only time the camera focuses on an offensive lineman is right after his number is called by the referee and the team is walking backwards.
These guys protect and block for the highest-profile players in the game. The success and failure depends on how well they do their job.
I've ranked the 32 offensive lines based on average yards per rushing attempt, the number of passing attempts per sack allowed and passing yards per attempt.
Granted, based on any of these statistics, the line may be at the mercy of the talent behind them.
No. 32: Carolina Panthers 0-5
The Carolina Panthers are one of two teams still without a win on the season.
The offensive line gives up a sack once every 8.8 times quarterback Matt Moore drops back to pass.
They are averaging only 3.86 yards per rushing attempt.
No. 31: St. Louis Rams 3-3
Yes, at 3-3 the Rams have won as many games this season as the last two seasons combined, and with at least one more victory, the most since 2006.
Yet, they are averaging only 3.6 yards per rushing attempt, and only 5.4 yards per passing attempt.
Surprisingly, their sacks allowed per game are actually higher this season, at 2.33 per game compared to 1.56 in 2009.
No. 30: Oakland Raiders 2-4
The Raiders are allowing an average of three sacks per game.
At 4.24 yards per rush, the Raiders are in the top half of the league, but their passing game is not doing as well.
Oakland is giving up a sack every 10.7 passing attempts, with only a 5.67 yards per pass attempt.
No. 29: Detroit Lions 1-5
With one more win, the Lions will not only match their win total of 2009, but for the entire last two seasons.
Detroit has only given up 11 sacks, allowing them to be ranked ahead of the Rams and Raiders.
The Lions' average of 1.83 is an improvement from 2009 when they allowed an average of 2.68 per game.
Right now, the Lions are only giving up a sack once every 23.5 pass attempts.
However, they are only averaging 3.54 rushing yards per attempt.
No. 28: Cleveland Browns 1-5
The Cleveland Browns are allowing two sacks per game in 2010, up slightly from their 2009 average of 1.87.
The Browns are in the middle of the pack for passing yards per attempt (6.42) and pass attempts per sack (16.2), but are averaging only 3.77 yards per rush.
No. 27: Buffalo Bills 0-5
The Buffalo Bills are the other team yet to win this year.
Their 4.84 yards per carry is the fifth best in the NFL.
Unfortunately, their 5.28 yards per passing attempt and 2.8 sacks per game are the among the worst in the league.
No. 26: Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-2
The Buccaneers have already matched last season's win total with three victories in five games.
Their average of 3.65 yards per rush is currently 27th in the league.
Tampa Bay is a little better in the passing game with 6.26 yards per attempt and one sack every 15.6 passing attempts.
No. 25: Arizona Cardinals 3-2
At 3-2, the Arizona Cardinals currently lead the NFC West.
The Kurt Warner era is officially over, and with consecutive playoff seasons in 2008 and 2009, the pressure will be on the offense to perform.
The passing game is not clicking for the Cardinals as they are near the bottom of the league with only 4.86 yards per passing attempt while allowing 3.8 sacks per game.
Incredibly, with an immobile Warner at quarterback in 2009, Arizona averaged only 1.62 sacks per game. This could be more the fault of quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Max Hall than the offensive line.
Allowing a sack every 8.26 passing attempts puts them 31st in the league with only the Chicago Bears worse in the NFL.
Their 4.46 yards per rushing attempt is currently ninth in the league.
No. 24: Seattle Seahawks 3-2
The Seahawks are co-leaders of the NFC West with the Arizona Cardinals.
Seattle is better at passing the ball than Arizona, with 6.19 yards per passing attempt, and allowing only 1.80 sacks per game.
The running game is not as good with a 3.61 average per rush, currently 29th in the league.
No. 23: Chicago Bears 4-2
If the Chicago Bears are going to keep their hold on the NFC North, they will need to do a better job protecting Jay Cutler.
The Bears are worst in the league, giving up 27 sacks, one every 6.48 passing attempts.
Something will have to give as the Bears are allowing 4.5 sacks per game. Compare that to last year when they averaged 2.18 per game and 35 for the season.
When they run the ball the results are only a little better. Their 3.96 yards per rushing attempt is 21st in the league.
No. 22: Jacksonville Jaguars 3-3
The Jacksonville Jaguars are 27th in the league with 5.83 yards per attempt passing, while giving up an average of 2.3 sacks per game, an improvement over 2009 when they gave up 2.75 sacks per game.
Their 4.26 yards per rush puts them just above the midpoint at 13th in the league.
So far this season the Jaguars have run the ball more often than passing it, 190 to 171.
No. 21: Minnesota Vikings 2-3
The Vikings are one loss away from matching their regular season total of 2009.
Minnesota is currently eighth in the league with a 4.26 average per rushing attempt, but 25th with only 5.92 yards per pass attempt.
They are allowing a sack once every 11.5 times they pass the ball, 26th in the league.
Their 2.6 sacks per game is up from 2.1 in 2009. If Brett Favre continues to get pounded every week, look for his consecutive-start streak come to an end.
No. 20: San Francisco 49ers 1-5
San Francisco finally won its first game this week, and with the Carolina Panthers up next, a two-game winning streak is within the realm of possibility.
At 18.6 attempts per sack allowed, the 49ers are 12th best in protecting Alex Smith.
Their 2.0 sacks per game this season is 0.5 less sacks compared to 2009.
Yet, the 49ers' passing yards per attempt is only 6.09, putting them 22nd in the league, while their 4.02 yards per carry is only 18th.
No. 19: Denver Broncos 2-4
Denver has not had a winning season since 2006, and its last playoff appearance was 2005.
This is a season of polar opposites so far for the Broncos.
They are currently second in the league with a 7.55 yards per pass attempt, while dead last with only 2.68 yards per rush average.
The Broncos' 2.17 sacks per game is unchanged from 2009. With all the hype surrounding Tim Tebow, who scored on a quarterback draw last week, Kyle Orton has been the only quarterback to throw a pass this season, and he is getting sacked only once every 19 times he drops back to pass.
If the Broncos are to make the playoffs, they will need to find more production out of their running game.
No. 18: Cincinnati Bengals 2-3
The Cincinnati Bengals have only made the playoffs three times over the past 20 seasons.
At 2-3, they already have half as many losses as last season.
They are currently fourth best in the league allowing a sack only once every 27.7 attempts.
However the Bengals are currently 25th in the league with a 3.72 yards per rush average.
With the Ravens and Steelers above them in the division, consecutive playoff seasons will be difficult.
No. 17: Baltimore Ravens 4-2
The Baltimore Ravens are sixth in the league, right behind the Cincinnati Bengals, allowing only one sack per 25.7 attempts.
However, they are 31st in the league with an average of 3.47 yards per rushing attempt.
Baltimore has a balanced attack with 193 rushing attempts and 206 passes.
If they are to push the Steelers for the division, they will need to improve their rushing efficiency.
No. 16: Washington Redskins 3-3
The Washington Redskins' offensive line leads us into the top half of the rankings.
They are in the middle of the pack in all of the categories used for this ranking.
Currently they are 12th in the league with 6.81 passing yards per attempt, 17th with 4.06 yards per rush, and 19th with a sack every 15.36 passing attempts.
No. 15: Miami Dolphins 3-2
The Miami Dolphins are currently 10th in the league in pass attempts per sack at 19.67.
Their 1.8 sacks per game is an improvement from 2.12 in 2009.
They are averaging 6.56 yards per passing attempt, good for 15th in the league, but at only 3.91 yards per carry they are 22nd in the league.
No. 14: Atlanta Falcons 4-2
The Atlanta Falcons find themselves tied with the New Orleans Saints for first place in the NFC South at 4-2.
In Week 3, the Falcons defeated the Saints in the Superdome with a balanced attack of 215 yards passing and 202 yards rushing.
They are currently in the middle of the pack with 4.07 yards per rush, and 21st in the league with an average 6.10 yards per pass attempt.
Their 2.17 sacks per game is up slightly from 1.68 in 2009.
No. 13: San Diego Chargers 2-4
The Chargers have already lost more games this season than last.
They are allowing three sacks per game, almost twice their 1.62 average for 2009.
On the positive side, they are tops in the league with 8.58 yards per pass attempt.
When they run the ball, they are only 12th in the league with 4.34 yards per rushing attempt.
No. 12: Tennessee Titans 4-2
Tennessee is currently third in the league with 844 yards rushing, yet its 4.44 yards per carry puts it tenth in the NFL.
The Titans are running the ball 57.2 percent of the time.
This could be due to the fact they are 25th in the league in allowing a sack every 11.8 passing attempts, averaging two sacks per game.
With the injury to Vince Young this week, the Titans may want to hand the ball off to Chris Johnson even more to protect their quarterback.
No. 11: Pittsburgh Steelers 4-1
It's no surprise that the Pittsburgh Steelers have run the ball more often than they've passed it.
Without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the first four games, the Steelers only went 3-1 without him.
Currently 24th in the league, allowing a sack every 12.0 passing attempts, look for this to drop with Roethlisberger back.
Incredibly, Pittsburgh is fourth in the league with a 7.42 yards per passing attempt. While they are 15th with a 4.15 yards per rushing attempt.
At 4-1, the Steelers will only get tougher as defenses will have to give more attention to the passing game, which should open up the running game.
On To The Top 10—No. 10: Dallas Cowboys 1-4
How in the world can the Dallas Cowboys be anywhere near the top of any list or ranking?
Currently last in the NFC East, any hopes the Cowboys had of hosting the Super Bowl appear to be gone.
Yet they are third in the league, allowing a sack only once every 29.57 pass attempts, and fifth in the league at 7.42 yards per pass attempt.
However, their average yards per rush is twentieth in the league at 3.96 yards.
Like last year, the Cowboys appear able to move the ball and protect Tony Romo.The problem is they just can't seem to score.
No 9: Green Bay Packers 3-3
The Green Bay Packers are only two losses away from their total in 2009.
Last season, Aaron Rodgers was sacked an average of 3.18 times per game for a total of 51 sacks allowed.
So far this season the numbers are better, but only slightly, with still 2.33 sacks per game.
Green Bay is currently 20th in the league giving up a sack every 14.36 attempts.
Where the Packers excel is with 4.56 yards per carry and 7.26 yards per pass attempt, good enough for seventh and eighth in the league respectively.
If the Cowboys ranking at No.10 did not show that statistics can be misleading, this certainly cements that fact.
No. 8: Indianapolis Colts 4-2
To no surprise, the Indianapolis Colts lead the league in allowing a sack only once every 42.33 times Peyton Manning drops back to pass.
Equally of no shock is that the Colts are third in the league with 7.42 yards per pass attempt.
What brings down the Colts' offensive line is their 3.69 yards per carry average, only 26th in the league.
No. 7: Philadelphia Eagles 4-2
The Eagles find themselves in the middle of a quarterback controversy.
Whether Kevin Kolb or Michael Vick is receiving the snap makes little difference as Philadelphia is currently second in the league with 5.04 yards each time they run the ball.
When they pass the ball, they drop only to sixth in the league with 7.34 yards per attempt.
The problem is they allow a sack every 10.05 pass attempts, 28th in the league.
This does not appear to be quarterback dependent, as Kolb has been sacked nine times and Vick 11.
No 6: New Orleans Saints 4-2
When you think of the New Orleans Saints, you think of the No. 1 scoring offense of 2009, and you might think this is a pass-happy team.
The truth is the Saints are 17th in the league in pass attempts. Still they pass the ball 60 percent of the time.
Their one sack every 28.88 pass attempts puts them fourth in the NFL, and their 7.01 yards per pass attempt is ninth.
Their 3.99 yards per rush is only 19th in the league.
The Top Five—No. 5: New York Jets 5-1
At 5-1, the New York Jets have the best record in the NFL.
The Jets led the league in rushing yards in 2009. This might be the reason LaDainian Tomlinson chose to sign with New York.
They are currently second in the NFL in rushing yards and third in the league at 4.95 yards per rush.
The Jets are ninth in the league, allowing one sack every 19.89 pass attempts, but only 26th with 5.87 yards per pass attempt.
The Jets are winning by running the ball 52 percent of the time and not putting too much pressure on Mark Sanchez.
Tied For No. 3: Kansas City Chiefs 3-2
If the Kansas City Chiefs can double their current win total, they will match the number of combined wins for 2008 and 2009.
For 2010 they made some changes to the offensive line that appear to be paying early dividends.
The Chiefs have increased their yards per rush from 4.4 in 2009 to 4.9 in 2010 and their yards per pass attempt from 5.9 to 6.1.
At the same time they have decreased the number of sacks per game from 2.81 in 2009 to 0.80 so far this season.
Their 4.87 yards per rush is fourth in the league.
Tied For No. 3: New York Giants 4-2
Like the Jets, the New York Giants are leading their division.
The Giants are consistent whether they run or pass the ball.
They are sixth in the league with a 4.67 yards per rushing attempt, and 11th in the league with 6.89 yards per passing attempt.
They are only allowing 1.83, down slightly form their 2.0 sacks per game in 2009.
No. 2: New England Patriots 4-1
If the New England Patriots are anything, they are consistent.
They are ranked in the top 10 for yards per carry, yards per passing attempt and attempts per sack.
The Patriots have a balanced attack averaging 4.43 yards per rushing attempt and 6.96 yards per passing attempt.
Their 1.6 sacks per game is actually an increase over 2009 when they averaged only 1.12.
No. 1: Deep in The Heart Of Texas—Houston Texans 4-2
The Houston Texans are second in the league in rushing yards, and the only team averaging over five yards per carry with 5.24 yards per rushing attempt. Arian Foster leads the league with 635 yards rushing.
The Texans are seventh in the league with 7.28 yards per passing attempt.
However, they are averaging 2.5 sacks per game, almost one full sack higher than 2009 when they allowed only 1.56 per game.
As they seek their first playoff berth, the season may already be considered a success with their season-opening victory over the Indianapolis Colts, only the second time they have beaten them in 17 games.
Defensive coordinators have been known to say "cut off the head, and the body will die," in referring to taking out the quarterback.
It's the offensive line's job to prevent this from happening, while opening the holes that allow their running backs to sprint to glory. And in the end, if they do their job well enough, there could be a championship waiting for them.
If you actually stuck it out to this last sentence of this last slide, then you have the intestinal fortitude of an offensive lineman!