They are the men on the front line, the men who engage in the war. They are the boys who protect you, crush defenders for you, but a question that has plagued me for sometime is, who has the best big men, the best offensive lineman. This is quite a hard question as each offensive line has to face different defensive lines, making it hard to determine from inflated stats and games where an the offensive line was pretty much facing a JV High School D-line. Watching a lot of football games I have concluded with some help from friends that these teams have the top offensive lines. To make the top five offensive line list, the unit needed to be able to run block as well as pass block. Generally if your line gave up over 30 sacks, they were thrown out of the list (exceptions apply), and rushed for under 1500 yards.
#1 Offensive Line
Cleveland Browns- This may seem like a surprise pick, but if you look at their stats and watch how they played, this group was outstanding! With Joe Thomas anchoring down the line at LT, the rest of the big men played their part allowing only 19 sacks and crushed defenders and opened holes for a running game that gained over 1800 yards. When I first saw this offensive line I figured it was another feeble attempt by Cleveland to actually win some games, but as the season progressed their line started to open holes for Jamal Lewis, who resurrected his career with this offensive line. I was extremely surprised to see how few sacks the line gave up as well, allowing 19, the second fewest in the league. The pass protection was no doubt helped by Joe Thomas who hadnt given up a sack until week 15, the rest of the offensive line was boosted by his play and they continued their dominance throughout the season.
#2 Offensive Line
Green Bay Packers- This may be one of the most underappreciated units in the entire league. The Packers O-line is continually bashed because of the Packers lack of a running game. But stats and tape do not lie, the Packers offensive line allowed a tiny 19 sacks this season, down from 24 sacks last season, and allowed the old man to step up and trash defenses as he poured over 4,000 yards passing on this season. What I was surprised to see for most of the season was that Favre was not under pressure a lot of the time, in fact he was usually able to stand in the pocket under blitzes and everything and make some clean passes. They only reason they are not in that top spot is the lack of a rushing game for the first half of the season, although it did get a lot better it wasnt enough to earn the top spot.
#3 Offensive Line
New England Patriots- These guys get overshadowed by the sucess of Brady, Moss, and the whole 16-0, but the big men up front for the Pats did a great job all season. Although Rushing for more yards than the Packers, they failed to put up as good of pass protection as the Packers did. They would be in the #2 spot but I feel their right side of the line is a little weak to be considered the best or second best, especially with Neal hurt for a lot of the season. With the lack of a running game for a lot of the season, they reminded me a little of the Packers, but I noticed Brady, towards the end of the season, was under constant pressure and being hit a lot more. That is why they are at the #3 spot this year.
#4 Offensive Line
Indianapolis Colts- They did very well this year despite having half of their line injured for most of the year. Allowing 23 sacks and rushing for over 1700 yards, they proved to be powerful with or without some of the starters. Unfortunatley Manning was under more pressure than I had ever seen him, especially in the Chargers game where he threw for 6 interceptions. That is the Primary reason they dont make it into the top 3. I have always thought the Colt line "holds" a bit more than everyone else, but that really didnt effect their position, if healthy they would be the #1 O-line.
#5 Offensive Line
Buffalo Bills- Another surprising pick but I think they deserve it, they allowed only 26 sacks while rushing for 1800 yards. What isnt told in the statistics is that they did all of that while having to have a rookie RB in the backfield and a tandum of inexperienced QB's. That just makes what they did all the more inspiring, they made holes for the rookie RB that Mike Golic could have run through and gave Losman and Edwards enough time for them to get comfortable in the pocket and begin to develop their skills as we saw later in the season when both QB's looked more poised and confident. This O-Line may be one of the unsung tales of the 2007 season.