The New England Patriots offensive line knew they were going to have their hands full after the bye week. They were greeted by the Seattle Seahawks, and after a week against the San Francisco 49ers, they entered a stretch with the New York Jets, Los Angeles Rams, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, and then the Jets again.
For those keeping track, the Ravens, Seahawks, and Broncos are arguably the three best defenses in the NFL. The Jets and the Rams probably have the best defensive lines in the league. And halfway into the stretch, the Patriots offensive line can take pride in doing a great job.
According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Patriots right guard Shaq Mason was perfect in pass protection and was the team’s best run blocker against the Rams and has been “one of the team's most consistent linemen this season, earning above-average overall grades in 6 of his past 7 games.”
Mason played at a high level during the 2015 playoffs, but he took some time to return to form after dealing with a hand injury to start 2016. PFF ranks Mason as the 19th best pass blocking guard in the NFL, a vast improvement from his bottom 10 ranking in 2015.
PFF also had left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Marcus Cannon down for a combined 1 pressure all game, and both rank in the top 20 of PFF’s offensive tackle pass blocking rankings. Cannon is PFF’s #1 run blocking right tackle, while Solder ranks #5 for left tackles.
The Ravens and Broncos are going to present major tests for the offensive line back-to-back weeks. If the Patriots can take care of business against these fierce defensive fronts, then Tom Brady and the offense should be confident about their ability to thrive in the playoffs.