The Detroit Lions continue to gain positive national attention. On Tuesday, the collective team ranked in the top six of every national power ranking we track, with some analysts feeling bold enough to say the Lions are “firmly planted” as Super Bowl contenders.
While there are plenty of positive things to ascertain from every victory, one group that often flies under the radar in post-game accolades is the heart and soul of this team: the offensive line.
Most analysts and fans know that the offensive line is the core foundation that this team is built on, but it’s their elite level of play is what allows the Lions to be so creative and efficient on offense.
If you haven’t paid attention to offensive line rankings this year, let’s do a quick recap. The Philadelphia Eagles are widely considered to have the best line in the NFL, but after them, the debate for No. 2 has been up for debate... until this season.
This season, the Lions not only returned their starting five offensive linemen healthy for the first time in two seasons, but they also added starter-level depth. And when it came time for pre-season rankings, it was the Lions that were landing as the second-best offensive line in the league more often than not. Some of the publications that listed the Lions that high include PFF, FTN Fantasy (the new home of DVOA), Establish the Run’s Brandon Thorn (widely considered one of the best OL gurus around), and The 33rd team (ranking made by former NFL OL Ross Tucker), to name a few.
Each week, PFF updates their rankings, and while the Lions offensive line dipped a bit early in the season, they never fell out of the top five, and for the last two weeks, they’ve settled back in at No. 2 overall, behind only the Eagles. Not only have they taken a firm grip on their spot, but after this past game, but they were also recognized by PFF as the top offensive line in the NFL in Week 5.
“The Lions’ offensive line had another nice outing in their win over the Panthers, with their starting five linemen combining to allow six pressures,” PFF’s Gordon McGuinness noted. “Center Frank Ragnow and right tackle Penei Sewell each surrendered zero pressures. Detroit had a strong day running the ball, with 3.2 of the offense’s 5.3 yards-per-carry average coming before contact.”
In addition to the entire unit earning that recognition, Sewell and Graham Glasgow were singled out as being the best players in the NFL at their positions this week.
If you’ve been paying attention to PFF’s overall grades each week, these individual recognitions shouldn’t be overly surprising, as several Lions players are currently ranked in the top 10 at their positions. On the offensive line, Sewell (sixth-best offensive tackle), Ragnow (second-best center), Glasgow (second-best guard), and even previously injured Halapoulivaati Vaitai (fourth-best guard) all finished with top-level grades. Taylor Decker (38th) and Jonah Jackson (28th) may not currently be in the top 10 but their scores have still been above the average mark for PFF with very respectable grades.
If the Lions offensive line continues to dominate as the season rolls on, this is going to be a really fun season for Lions fans.