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Offensive Line of the Week: Falcons unit boosts rushing attack

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. Following each batch of games, O'Hara will revisit the O-line performances of all the teams that played and ultimately select that week's top five units, headlined by 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 Week 2 and Week 2 alone. This is NOT a running O-line Power Rankings for 2018. This is NOT a projection into the future. The goal of this weekly column is to answer one simple question: Which five offensive lines stood out above the rest in last week's action?

Without further ado, the Week 2 winner is ...

Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta was an entirely different team in Week 2 -- in personnel and production -- than the one we saw in the league's season opener. With Devonta Freeman sidelined, not many would have thought the Falcons would rush for 170 yards against division-rival Carolina. Tevin Coleman, in just the seventh start of his young, four-year career, more than carried the load, recording 16 rushing attempts for 107 yards, breaking Carolina's 21-game streak of preventing a 100-plus-yard rusher. Even Matt Ryan got involved in the run game with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Those two plays helped the Falcons convert on all four of their trips to the red zone, a major turnaround from Week 1, when they converted just 20 percent of the time.

Atlanta's offensive line suffered a huge blow just 12 offensive snaps in, when left guard Andy Levitre exited with a triceps injury that landed him on IR on Monday. Add Levitre to the list of Falcons who are out for the season -- safety Keanu Neal and linebacker Deion Jones. Taking Levitre's place at left guard was Wes Schweitzer, who had a solid performance while playing the remaining 51 snaps. When considering the Falcons were without both Freeman and Levitre, it's remarkable that the offensive line didn't allow a single sack or quarterback hit to a very good Carolina defense. Left tackle Jake Matthews continues to prove his worth after signing a five-year, $75 million contract extension in the offseason. The left tackle didn't give up a single pressure on 33 pass blocks against the Panthers. In his 10th NFL season, Alex Mack is still one of the best reach blocking centers in the game. He had his hands full with Kawaan Short, yet didn't allow a single pressure.

If the offensive line shows out again next week against the Saints, who are still searching for their dynamic pass rush of yesteryear, the Falcons will be sitting pretty heading into two non-divisional contests.

The rest of the top five O-lines from Week 2

DALLAS COWBOYS: The Cowboys got back to running the ball and, in turn, got their first win of 2018. The offensive line helped the offense put up 298 total yards (138 rushing, 160 passing) and 20 points against the Giants -- the most the Cowboys have scored since Week 15 of 2017. Ezekiel Elliott played a major role with 17 carries for 78 yards and one touchdown, thanks to an O-line that was Pro Football Focus' third-best run-blocking unit in Week 2.

Leaning on the run game this time around, Dak Prescott bounced back from a poor Week 1 performance. The O-line didn't allow a sack or QB hit in 25 pass plays in the contest, helping the offense gain 6.0 yards per play.

DENVER BRONCOS: The Broncos improved to 2-0 thanks to a huge second-half effort that saw them score 20 points to seal a comeback victory over Oakland. Denver's run game is now on everyone's radar, due to undrafted rookie running back Phillip Lindsay. Of the team's 168 rush yards, Lindsay racked up 107 on 14 carries to become the first undrafted player in NFL history with at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first two games. Keep an eye on Denver's diamond in the rough. He didn't do it all on his own, though, as the O-line helped Lindsay average 7.6 yards per carry on the way to becoming Pro Football Focus' top-ranked run-blocking unit of the week.

In the pass game, the unit allowed three pressures and only one QB hit. Although Case Keenum was sacked one time, it was caused by a miscommunication in protection. Therefore, the offensive line didn't get docked for the sack by PFF. A solid day for the O-line didn't come without adversity. After only playing 32 snaps, right tackle Jared Veldheer exited with a concussion and was replaced by Billy Turner, who didn't allow a pressure in 35 snaps. One of Denver's most consistent players up front, Ronald Leary had another great performance by not allowing a single pressure. While the O-line was called for a pair of holding penalties, Matt Paradis, who was credited with one of those, continues to be one of the best run-blocking centers in the league.

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: The Chiefs rode the Patrick Mahomes train straight into the record books Sunday. The second-year quarterback had another huge day in the air with six (!) passing touchdowns, bringing his season total to 10. That's the most passing TDs in the first two games of a season in NFL history, edging Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Charley Johnson, who each posted nine in previous seasons. In addition to the air attack, Kansas City rushed for 127 yards, led by Kareem Hunt's 18 carries for 75 yards.

The offensive line allowed five total pressures and wasn't credited with a sack, but Mahomes did end up getting sacked once after running into center Mitch Morse. The unit needs to clean up the penalties -- three against the Steelers -- but looked good overall.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: The 49ers' offense received a tremendous boost from a run game that accounted for 190 of the unit's 346 total yards. The stellar rushing attack was led by Matt Breida's monster day (11 carries for 138 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown scamper). Believe it or not, the 49ers running back leads the NFL in rushing yards (184) and yards per rush (8.36) through Week 2.

Center Weston Richburg and rookie right tackle Mike McGlinchey -- both new pieces to the unit -- provided a boost in Sunday's big day on the ground. The unit did allow one sack and one QB hit to the Lions' defense, which kept the 49ers from overtaking the Falcons.

Follow Shaun O'Hara on Twitter @ShaunOHara60.

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