Arizona up 7
Center Rodney Hudson has returned to health, activated off the Covid list this week. Hudson has missed five games this season, and the Cardinals have only won two of those. His impact on the offense is demonstrated in the key passing stats of quarterback Kyler Murray. When Hudson's out, the Cardinals simply aren't as good. Hudson's arrival is timely, and this group ranks sixth just prior to this week's key NFC road matchup against a tough Dallas defensive front.
LA Chargers up 14
Center Corey Linsley and backup Senio Kelemete both passed Covid protocols this week. While having Kelemete could be useful (Michael Schofield played 100% of snaps at RG last week, and struggled at times against Houston), the real reason for the upgrade is Linsley, who grades out as an All Pro. Although right tackles Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins are both on the Covid list, the return of Linsley still boosts the Chargers' offensive line to seventh in the current rankings.
Buffalo up 9
Left tackle Dion Dawkins returned to health just prior to the divisional game against New England. The coaches had planned to keep Dawkins on the bench, starting Spencer Brown at left tackle, but after left guard Ike Boettger was carted off, Dawkins was called to action and played a nearly flawless game. With Jon Feliciano activated from the Covid list this week, and Ryan Bates playing well in relief last week, the Bills' offensive line grades eighth before facing a vulnerable Atlanta defensive front.
Cleveland up 16
Left tackle Jedrick Wills returns after two weeks away from the team. Wills' return allows Joel Bitonio to move back to his natural left guard position. This upgrade depends on J.C. Tretter clearing Covid protocols by Monday Night Football at Pittsburgh. Tretter is included in the ranks, but should he not be able to play, Nick Harris would get another start at center. At right tackle, Jack Conklin has long been on season-ending injured reserve, but Blake Hance or James Hudson are capable options. It's not an ideal lineup, but in the patchwork world of NFL week 17, it's good enough for ninth in the rankings.
Washington up 12
Right guard Brandon Scherff and center Tyler Larsen have cleared the Covid list this week and are practicing without restrictions. Larsen (the second-string center behind Chase Roullier) is a notable upgrade from Keith Ismael, the fourth-string option. The real upgrade is at right guard, where Scherff has elite impact, especially in the running game. Right tackle Sam Cosmi was placed on the Covid list, but with swing tackle Cornelius Lucas returning to health, Cosmi's absence shouldn't be an issue. With other teams getting hit hard (see below) this all adds up to a sizable upgrade. The Football Team's offensive line ranks 11th before trying to play spoiler against Philadelphia.
Seattle up 10
Right tackle Brandon Shell has returned to health, sending Jake Curhan to the bench. While Curhan is an interesting prospect, Shell is another underrated "glue-guy" player and the numbers of quarterback Russell Wilson correlate to his availability. Seattle's offensive line faces an active Detroit defensive front at home this weekend, but they grade 12th in the latest rankings.
Tennessee up 11
Left tackle Taylor Lewan and left guard Rodger Saffold both returned to health this week. Although Dillon Radunz held his own at left tackle in place of Lewan against Nick Bosa on Thursday Night Football, Lewan is the captain and leader of the offense. Rodger Saffold return is convenient as right guard Nate Davis (who played 100% of snaps vs SF) and Kendall Lamm were placed on the Covid list this weekend. Aaron Brewer, who has been starting for Saffold, will do a capable job in place of Davis at right guard. Tennessee's offensive line ranks 18th before hosting an underrated Miami defensive front this weekend.
Indianapolis down 8
Last week against Arizona, the Colts' offensive line was without four of five starters. This week, it's not quite as bleak, as left guard Quenton Nelson and right Mark Glowinski have returned to health. In addition, center Ryan Kelly returned to the team after mourning the passing of his child. The interior will be active this week against Las Vegas, but the tackles are iffy. Eric Fisher was forced from last week's game after only 29% of snaps. Fisher has not practiced this week and is listed with three injuries on the report (knee - shoulder - toe). Right tackle Braden Smith is still on the Reserve/COVID-19 list but he could theoretically pass protocol before this weekend. The rankings assume Matt Pryor would play for Braden Smith and Julien Davenport plays for Fisher. Without their starting tackles, this Colts' offensive line grades 15th.
Minnesota down 7
Right guard Oli Udoh has been added to the Covid list this week. Dakota Dozier is in line to make his first start after missing two months with Covid Pneumonia. Dozier was once a starter but with Mason Cole on the injured reserve and Rashod Hill also on the Covid list, the Vikings' depth is being tested. Look for Green Bay's very good defensive front to target the guard position this weekend at home. The Vikings' offensive line grades at 16th in the current rankings.
Detroit down 3
Right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai has been added to the Covid protocols this week and his availability for the game at Seattle is in doubt. Vaitai has not been a great player for the Lions franchise, and this is another opportunity for Tommy Kraemer, who has a knack for making the most of these spot starts. Still, it's a modest downgrade to 17th in the most recent rankings.
Jacksonville down 10
This week, three Jaguars' starters have been added to the Covid list: Left tackle Cam Robinson, left guard Andrew Norwell and center Brandon Linder. With last week's starting right guard Will Richardson to injured reserve with a broken finger, it is not entirely clear who will start this weekend's difficult matchup at New England. Tyler Shatley would start at center, and Walker Little could take Robinson's left tackle spot, with K.C. McDermott filling in for Norwell. It's possible one (or more of the starters) clear protocol by Saturday, but the clock is ticking. Without these key players, the Jaguars' offensive line grades 20th overall.
LA Rams down 15
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was a late scratch last week and this forced David Edwards to tackle, and Coleman Shelton to left guard to start the game against Minnesota. However, Brian Allen was hurt after only 23% of snaps, moving Shelton to C, Edwards to LG, and Alaric Jackson to left tackle for the final 71% of snaps. Jackson held up well in the win but with Joe Noteboom returning from the Covid list, he probably won't be needed at Baltimore. Whitworth is not included in the ranks, and without him, they grade 21st. This line will bounce back up the rankings when Whitworth clears protocols.
Pittsburgh down 9
Rookie center Kendrick Green had a terrible game last week, allowing a strip-sack, then leaving the game with an injury. JC Hassenauer replaced Green, and with BJ Finney also off the injured reserve, Green could be given this week off against Cleveland. Rookie mistakes happen, but it's tough for coaches to stomach these mistakes this late in the campaign. With the uncertainty at center, Pittrburgh drops to 25th in the current rankings.
NY Giants down 1
With right tackle Nate Solder on the Covid list and Matt Peart out for the season with an ACL he tore last week, Korey Cunningham played 88% of snaps last week. With Cunningham added to the Covid list this week, Isaiah Wilson could get his first NFL action with the Giants. The team hopes Solder plays, but if he doesn't, the Chicago pass rush could feast on the raw Wilson. The Giants' offensive line ranks 29th, limping down the stretch.
NY Jets down 4
Starting center Connor McGovern has been placed on the injured reserve this week with a knee injury he suffered in the fourth quarter of last week's win over Jacksonville. Dan Feeney, who started the game for Alijah Vera-Tucker (Covid), will likely play center for the last two contests. With Vera-Tucker and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff in the Covid protocol, Conor McDermott and Greg Van Roten were the starting guards. The Jets' offensive line ranks 30th before facing a very difficult Tampa Bay defensive front seven.
BAL - The practice period has expired for RT Ja'Wuan James, and James cannot join the team this season.
CAR - LT Cam Erving (Calf - not in ranks) will likely remain on the bench for Brady Christensen. Dennis Daley and Pat Elflein activated from C list. Sam Tecklenburg started last week vs TBB but Tecklenburg is on the Covid list.
DAL - Tackle Terence Steele scored an awesome big guy TD last week.
DEN - Center Lloyd Cushenberry missed last week's game on the Covid list (Austin Schlottmann started). Cushenberry has passed protocol and is in the rankings this week.
HOU - G Cole Toner played 100% of snaps last week against LAC but was placed on IR this week. Lane Taylor is active from the Covid list and could take Toner's place. With LT Tytus Howard also on the Covid list, Geron Christian will likely get another start.
PHI - Backups getting healthy as Andre Dillard and Le'Raven Clark have both been removed from the Covid List. Right tackle Lane Johnson also scored an awesome big guy TD last week.
NOS - RT Jordan Mills has recovered from the Covid list (Caleb Benenoch started RT at MNF). LT Terron Armstead (knee - not in ranks) is not practicing and RT Ryan Ramczyk is still on the Covid list.
|6||Arizona||7||31.9||A||A-||A+||5.0||C Rodney Hudson returns to lineup.|
|7||LA Chargers||14||31.4||A-||B+||A-||4.6||C Corey Linsley returned to health, RT Storm Norton and Trey Pipkins on Covid list, RT starter unclear for Week 17.|
|8||Buffalo||9||31.3||A-||A||B+||5.0||LT Dion Dawkins returned to health, LG Ike Boettger to IR, Jon Feliciano or Ryan Bates to replace.|
|9||Cleveland||16||31.3||A-||A||B+||4.8||LT Jedrick Wills returned to health, Assuming C J.C. Tretter clears Covid list by MNF (still in ranks, Nick Harris would replace).|
|10||Dallas||-2||31.3||A-||A||B+||5.0||LT Tyron Smith (ankle - not in ranks), Terrence Steele replaced.|
|11||Washington||12||31.0||A-||A||B+||5.0||RG Brandon Scherff and C Tyler Larsen returned to health. RT Sam Cosmi (Covid - not in ranks), Cornelius Lucas to replace.|
|12||Seattle||10||30.9||B+||A-||B||5.0||RT Brandon Shell returned to health.|
|15||Indianapolis||-8||30.8||B||B||B||4.6||RG Mark Glowinski, C Ryan Kelly, and LG Quenton Nelson return to lineup. LT Eric Fisher (mult. Injuries - not in ranks) and RT Braden Smith (Covid - not in ranks) could miss Week 17. Julien Davenport and Matt Pryor would replace.|
|16||Minnesota||-7||30.7||B||B+||B-||4.8||RG Oli Udoh (Covid - not in ranks), Wyatt Davis to replace.|
|17||Detroit||-3||30.4||B-||C+||B||5.0||RG Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Covid - not in ranks), Tommy Kraemer to replace.|
|18||Tennessee||11||30.3||B-||B||C+||5.0||LG Rodger Saffold and LT Taylor Lewan return to health, Nate David (Covid - not in ranks), Aaron Brewer to replace.|
|20||Jacksonville||-10||29.9||C+||B-||C||3.6||LT Cam Robinson, LG Andrew Norwell, and C Brandon Linder on Covid List.|
|21||LA Rams||-15||29.9||C+||C+||C+||4.8||LT Andrew Whitworth (Covid - not in ranks), LT Joe Noteboom returned to health. C Brian Allen (knee - not in ranks), Coleman Shelton to replace.|
|25||Pittsburgh||-9||29.6||C+||C+||C+||5.0||C Kendrick Green could be benched, C JC Hessenauer or BJ Finney would replace.|
|27||Chicago||0||29.3||C||C+||C-||5.0||LT Jason Peters (ankle - not in ranks), RT Larry Borom and Elijah Wilkinson return to health.|
|29||NY Giants||-1||28.9||C-||C||D+||4.6||RT Nate Solder (Covid - not in ranks), Matt Peart (ACL - not in ranks) and Korey Cunningham (Covid - not in ranks). Isaiah Wilson to replace|
|30||NY Jets||-4||28.7||C-||C||D+||5.0||LG Alijah Vera-Tucker (Covid - not in ranks) and RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (Covid - not in ranks). C Connor McGovern (knee - injured reserve), Dan Feeney to replace.|
|31||New Orleans||0||28.5||D+||C-||D||4.8||LT Terron Armstead (knee, shoulder - not in ranks) and RT Ryan Ramczyk (knee - not in ranks) still unavailable (James Hurst and Jordan Mills to replace).|
|32||Houston||0||28.3||D+||C-||D||4.8||LG Lane Taylor returned to health, LG Cole Toner to IR. LT Tytus Howard (Covid - not in ranks), Geron Christian to replace.|