In today's fantasy-obsessed football world, it's easy to overlook the contributions of one position group: offensive line. Well, NFL Network analyst and former Pro Bowl center Shaun O'Hara is here to fix that, focusing on this neglected area of game evaluation and handing out a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The rankings that you see below reflect O'Hara's pecking order for Championship Sunday and Championship Sunday alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for the 2018 season. This is NOT a projection into the future. The goal of this weekly column is to answer one simple question: Which offensive line stood out above the rest in last week's action?
Without further ado, the Championship Sunday winner is ...
New England Patriots
The Patriots' offensive line has been one of the most consistent and best run-blocking units this season -- a HUGE reason for the team's postseason success. That said, it's not surprising in the least that New England will play in Super Bowl LIII -- its fourth Super Bowl in five years -- after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime of Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots took control of the line of scrimmage from the get-go and manhandled the Chiefs up front. New England's first drive lasted more than eight minutes to set the tone, and the Pats continued to control the clock as they had the ball for 44 minutes to Kansas City's 21. The Chiefs' defense was clearly gassed in overtime as a result of New England's dominant performance all night on third down (13 for 19), which ultimately led to the lopsided time of possession. The Patriots ran a whopping 94 offensive plays in the win -- the most plays by one team in a game this season and most in a playoff game since 1986 Wild Card Round, when the Cleveland Browns ran 96 offensive plays. K.C. managed just half that, with 47.
The Patriots amassed 524 yards of total offense -- the most by any team this postseason -- with 176 yards rushing and 348 passing. Tom Brady padded his playoff career totals Sunday in both fourth-quarter comebacks (nine) and game-winning drives (12) -- each figure paces the NFL in the Super Bowl era. It wasn't all Brady, though. Running back Sony Michel continued his fine debut season with two touchdowns and 113 rushing yards. He now holds the record for most postseason rushing touchdowns by a rookie in a single postseason (five) during the Super Bowl era.
I can't say enough about New England's offensive line, which didn't allow a sack and only yielded one quarterback hit. Left tackle Trent Brown was excellent in pass protection and only gave up one hurry on nearly 50 pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Left guard Joe Thuney had arguably the toughest task of the group in going against sack artist Chris Jones, but Thuney got the job done, allowing just one hurry. Jones was a non-factor in the contest, as he didn't record a single sack or quarterback hit. Meanwhile, right guard Shaq Mason had the best performance of the Patriots' unit, putting on display the run-blocking ability that has made him one of the very best guards in the NFL.
Aside from an untimely and critical penalty that negated a game-altering interception, Chiefs OLB Dee Ford was invisible in this game, failing to record a single statistic despite playing in 81 snaps. Like the rest of Kansas City's pass rush, Justin Houston was also non-factor with two tackles on 95 snaps.
New England's offensive line deserves a ton of credit for completely overwhelming K.C.'s defense and playing extremely well on the road in one of the loudest stadiums in sports.