Offensive line play making and breaking teams already

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OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 17: Marshawn Lynch
OAKLAND, CA – SEPTEMBER 17: Marshawn Lynch /

Oakland Raiders

GM Reggie McKenzie has done a fantastic job building this elite unit, largely through free agency. It’s three key members; Rodney Hudson, Donald Penn and Kelechi Osemele, all went to the Pro Bowl in 2016 and have begun on a note similar this year.

Pro Football Focus ranked this the 7th best offensive line going into the season. They are certainly living up to that billing, and more, having given up just five quarterback hits through two games.

2016 saw this line allow a mere 18 sacks all season, the least in the NFL. Thus far, Derek Carr has two sacks on him, highlighting the exceptional pass protection he gets from this group.

The left side of the line, featuring Penn and Osemele, particular excels in this aspect of the game.

On the right, Marshall Newhouse is one of only three tackles who have not given up a pressure having blocked 50 plus passing plays.

Carr is completing 75% of his throws and is yet to throw a pick in 2017. The fourth year pro has rarely thrown under duress, consistently having a clean pocket from which to operate.

With extra time and space, Carr has been able to throw down field more often as routes have more time to develop and receivers can get open. This, along with outstanding run blocking, allows the offense to operate at full tilt and not develop a reliance upon either facet.

These factors make it no shock that the Raiders boast a top five rushing attack and rank fourth in total offense in 2017. Of course Carr, Marshawn Lynch and Amari Cooper have big parts to play in this statistical excellence.

But, without outstanding protection, there is no doubt they’re not as effective.

Oakland ranks second in the league in yards per play with 6.5. This confirms the all round effectiveness of their offense, something that can only happen with excellence from your line.

So with standout offensive line play, and a healthy Carr, it would be no surprise to see Oakland making a deep playoff run.