Green Bay up 18
Oh, how we have been here before with left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee, abdomen). All last year there were teases he was close to returning, leading to "false upgrades." Turns out he didn't even start the playoffs. Still, quarterback Aaron Rodgers said he was "confident he'll be practicing this week and hopefully trending toward playing." Bakhtiari has practiced in a limited fashion, three weeks after an emergency appendectomy. When he's healthy, he's as good as any tackle in the league. This could be the quarterback putting pressure on his lineman, but the timing is right for an appendectomy recovery. This week against Minnesota will essentially be the Packers' playoff game. Right tackle Yosh Nijman (shoulder) is questionable, with Royce Newman replacing him after the first quarter in last week's win over Miami. If Bakhtiari returns, rookie sensation Zach Tom could swap over to Nijman's place. Even with the uncertainty at right tackle, Bakhtiari's return represents an 18-spot upgrade in the rankings. That's how much the All-Pro tackle means to the Packers offense.
Las Vegas up 3
The headlines coming out of Las Vegas have to do with the benching of quarterback David Carr, but the line is getting healthier. The Raiders got starting left guard Alex Bars (knee) into the lineup against Pittsburgh. While the result wasn't what the team or its fans wanted, there were encouraging signs up front. Right guard Dylan Parham (third-round, Memphis) continues to be a difference-maker. He and Bars can get the party started in the run game. This group still ranks relatively low, 26th in the latest grades, and has a terrible matchup this week against San Francisco. But add a couple of pieces in the offseason; this group could be a riser in 2023 dynasty situations.
Arizona up 1
With all the injuries around the league (see below), it's sometimes hard to find upgrades this late in the season. And it has been a long time since Arizona has been anything but the lowest-rated line. But look out, you guys, it finally happened. Getting right tackle Kelvin Beachum (knee, ankle) and guard Max Garcia (shoulder) healthy was enough to get the offensive line out of last place. The group played decently in the close loss to Tampa Bay and has a relatively easy matchup this week at Atlanta. Again, this is an offense held back by quarterback issues, but their offensive line is no longer the worst. It's official. Let's see how long they can stay out of the basement, as Kelvin Beachum has been held out of practice this week. It should also be noted that neither team has anything to play for in terms of importance, but both have been playing hard down the stretch. Assuming the veteran plays, the Cards bounce up to 31st in the grades.
New Orleans down 3
Left guard Andrus Peat turned his ankle after only 13 snaps in last week's win over Cleveland. Peat has not practiced this week. With Calvin Throckmorton filling in for Cesar Ruiz at right guard, utility backup Josh Andrews replaced Peat. The starters in the model are treated like a college class with grade inflation, with most grades ranging from A+ to C+. It's exceedingly rare that the model grades starters as C or below, but Josh Andrews starting at Philadelphia qualifies as an emergency situation. In other news, All-Pro right tackle Ryan Ramczyk has been held out of practice with an illness. That could be a situation to watch, but he remains in the model. The Saints grade out 7th without Peat but would fall to the high 20s without Ramczyk.
Philadelphia down 10
Right tackle Lane Johnson (groin) was forced from last week's loss against Dallas, and Jack Driscoll replaced him. Johnson's injury is relatively serious and will require surgery in the offseason. Still, the team hopes Johnson can return in the playoffs, and he has told the press that he will not get this surgery until after the playoffs. When Johnson missed time last year, the team swapped Jordan Mailata over to the right side, allowing former first-rounder Andre Dillard to get reps at left tackle. The team could do this again, or they could stick with Driscoll. Either way, it adds up to about a 10-slot drop in the rankings. The former number one line falls to 11th before hosting a feisty Saints' defense.
Houston down 3
In sports, there's a phenomenon known as "Announcer's Jinx." Famous examples include mentioning a no-hitter in baseball or noting that the kicker has hit a certain number in a row before he clanks one off the post. It was just last week I was singing the praises of the new-look Texans' lineup, giving them the cover picture. And while they did play well in their second win of the season, an upset over Tennessee, left guard Tytus Howard was forced from the game with a concussion after only seven snaps. Howard's replacement, Jimmy Morrissey, also left the game with a concussion after playing most of the contest. Both players have not practiced this week. Veteran Justin McCray took the final 14 snaps last week, and it will be either him or struggling rookie Kenyon Green this weekend against the Jaguars. To add to the confusion, Green has been limited in practice with an ankle injury, and McCray has been limited with a hamstring. In other news, Charlie Heck played well at right tackle, which could be his home long-term. But the uncertainty at left guard drops the Texans' line to 16th in the latest rankings.
Buffalo down 5
With Mitch Morse still out with a concussion, Ryan Bates started at center last week against Chicago. Bates (knee) was forced from the game before half-time and went to the locker room early. The coaches moved Greg Van Roten to center and recently activated Ike Boettger saw his first action of the season at right guard. Early in the third quarter, Bates returned. The Bills play the Bengals on Monday Night Football this week, and the extra day means Bates will likely get the start. But he will be playing injured, and it's certainly feasible, if not likely, that Boettiger could see the field again. This is still a good group on the strength of the tackles, but the uncertainty at the center and right guard positions drop them a few spots. The Bills' offensive line grades 17th this week.
Cincinnati down 16
Right tackle La'el Collins only made it through 19 snaps last week before tearing his ACL and MCL in his knee. Collins faces a lengthy rehab and is officially out for the season. In his place, Hakeem Adeniji stepped in. This is a tough loss for any team as Collins has been playing exceptionally well before his injury. But Adeniji started in last year's Super Bowl, albeit at guard, and the prospect has improved over the three years he's been in the league. This Monday against Buffalo will be Adeniji's 15th career start, which is a far above-average action rate compared to most 6th-round picks. It's still a tough drop, from 7th overall to 23rd, but there's some reason to believe the offense can keep functioning despite the change.
Seattle down 2
Rookie right tackle Abraham Lucas was forced from last week's game in the second quarter with a knee injury and has not practiced this week. Head coach Pete Carroll has called it a patellar tendon issue. Lucas has been excellent as a third-round pick from nearby Washington State, starting all 15 games the Seahawks have played this season. Stone Forsythe replaced Lucas and tallied 59 percent of snaps against Kansas City. Compared to Lucas, who plays like a savvy veteran, Forsythe is a raw prospect, and this weekend against the Jets will be only his second career start. While there is a chance Lucas could make a miraculous recovery by this weekend, a patellar tendon problem sounds kind of serious. I'm no Doctor Jene (who beat me in the finals of the FBG IDP Dynasty league last week, congrats, dude), but it's rare to play with that particular injury. Thus, Lucas is held out of the model. The Seahawks offensive line drops to 27th in the latest rankings.
Tennessee down 4
Right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere was forced from last week's game against Houston with an ankle injury and has been ruled out for Thursday Night against Dallas. Le'Raven Clark played 54 percent of the snaps and will get the start. Still without right guard Nate Davis (replaced by Jordan Roos) and center Ben Jones (replaced by Corey Levin), the Titans' line is extremely short-handed this week. They also have the unfortunate indignity of being graded as the worst line in football, or at least, the most injury-riddled. The Titans' grade is 32nd. To fans of the team, may their stay at the bottom be brief.
ATL - LG Elijah Wilkinson (calf) played 100 percent of the snaps vs BAL but has not practiced this week. Chuma Edoga (knee) also didn't practice. If both can't go, it might be Colby Gossett time again.
CHI - LG Cody Whitehair (knee) has been limited in practice but is still in the model. RG Teven Jenkins (neck) practiced in full which is good news, as the Larry Borom/Dieter Elselen rotation struggled in his place.
CLE - LT Jedrick Wills (back) did not practice but played 100 percent against NOS and is still in the model.
DAL - RT Tyron Smith played 100 percent of RT snaps last week, leaving Jason Peters on the bench as the swing lineman.
DEN - LT Calvin Anderson (ankle) missed Week 16 and has not practiced this week. LT Cameron Fleming replaced him. While Anderson has more upside, there's little change between these two grades in the model. And by some fluke of the rankings (other teams getting hurt), the Broncos' line is actually up three spots.
DET - G Logan Stenberg (illness) did not practice, and G Kayode Awosika (ankle) was limited. Both would be alternatives at RG for Evan Brown.
JAX - RG Brandon Scherff (abdomen, ankle) is limited in practice this week. Scherff missed four snaps last week against the Jets, and Blake Hance saw a few reps in his place.
KCC - RT Andrew Wylie (hip) played 100 percent of the snaps vs SEA, and appears to be fully healthy. With Philadelphia falling, KCC is the new number-one line.
LAR - C Brian Allen (calf) has not practiced and is likely another week away. LT Ty Nsekhe (illness) was also held out of practice. Nsekhe played 94 percent of snaps last week against Denver, with A.J. Arcuri getting into the game during garbage time.
MIA - LT Terron Armstead continues to astound, being the first player I've ever seen playing with four different injuries: toe, pectoral, knee, and hip. Still, he played 100 percent of the snaps last week against GBP and remains in the model. LT Eric Fisher (calf) also isn't practicing, which leaves Greg Little as the swing option. Liam Eichenberg is still lurking but has not been added to the roster yet.
MIN - C Garrett Bradbury (back) continues to miss time. Could Austin Schlottmann be the long-term answer in Minnesota? LG Ezra Cleveland (shoulder) has been limited, but he played 100 percent of the snaps last week against NYG.
NEP - RT Yodny Cajuste (illness) has not practiced this week. RT Conor McDermott continues to start.
NYG - LG Shane Lemieux (toe) was officially added to the reserve list. The team signed Wyatt Davis off waivers to take his spot on the roster. LG Nick Gates and Ben Bredeson have been splitting reps at the spot.
TBB - Swing tackle Josh Wells (knee) was added to the injured reserve. LT Donovan Smith (foot) was limited in practice, as was RT Tristan Wirfs (ankle). Both are included in the model. If Smith can't go, presumably, Brandon Walton would see time, and the team would drop to the late teens in the rankings. In other-other news, C Ryan Jensen was wearing pads at practice and is in the 21-day window for the team to evaluate adding him back to the roster.
WAS - The team signed Wes Martin for depth. Saahdiq Charles (concussion) has not practiced. Andrew Norwell (shoulder) played 100 percent of last week's snaps but was limited in practice. In positive news, Sam Cosmi floated between RG and RT last week and looked good at both spots.
|5||Green Bay||23||18||33.88||A||A-||A+||5.0||LT David Bakhtiari returned to practice.|
|7||New Orleans||4||-3||33.53||A-||A-||A-||4.4||LG Andrus Peat (ankle) left Week 16, Josh Andrews replaced.|
|11||Philadelphia||1||-10||33.18||A-||A||B+||4.8||RT Lane Johnson (groin) out, Jack Driscoll or Shuffle Jordan Mailata and Andre Dillard to replace.|
|17||Buffalo||12||-5||32.28||B||B+||B-||4.4||RG Ryan Bates playing injured, Ike Boettger replaced.|
|23||Cincinnati||7||-16||31.43||B-||B||C+||4.8||RT Lael Collins (knee) out for season, Hakeem Adeniji replaced.|
|26||Las Vegas||29||3||30.38||C+||C+||C+||5.0||LG Alex Bars and RG Dylan Parham returned Week 16.|
|27||Seattle||25||-2||30.10||C+||C||B-||4.6||RT Abraham Lucas (knee) forced from Week 16, Stone Forsythe replaced.|
|31||Arizona||32||1||29.55||C||C+||C-||4.8||Kelvin Beachum (knee), Max Garcia (shoulder) and Billy Price (knee) all played 100 percent Week 16.|
|32||Tennessee||28||-4||28.40||C-||C||D+||4.4||RT Nicholas Petit-Frere (ankle) out for TNF, LeRaven Clark replaced.|
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