Raheel Ramzanali: How good does your offensive line have to be to win the Super Bowl?

The Texans offensive line was bad last year. This year one website says it is the worst. Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Working in sports radio in the month of July is a blast because we get to repeat storylines and talk NFL without seeing any of our questions answered for another two months. One storyline that is hot right now is the Texans O-line. Pro Football Focus was not high on them and had them ranked 32nd as a unit. On paper, this O-line is not good, but man, when Deshaun and the offense were rolling, we weren’t questioning the line as much as we are now. So, is it possible to win with a below average line in the NFL?

Using the adjusted run and pass rankings from Football Outsiders, I looked at where the final four teams ranked in both run and pass. You can see the breakdown of what Football Outsiders uses to measure O-line play here. Note: after talking to several NFL writers and “gurus,” these rankings were the best to use since they only accounted for the regular season and looked at key indicators and not human grades.

2013 (Run/Pass)

  • San Francisco 29/22

  • Seattle 9/32

  • New England 1/9

  • Denver 8/1


  • Indianapolis 16/7

  • New England 5/2

  • Green Bay 8/13

  • Seattle 4/24


  • Arizona 3/5

  • Carolina 12/21

  • New England 2/18

  • Denver 17/13


  • Pittsburgh 3/4

  • New England 9/6

  • Green Bay 19/11

  • Atlanta 10/23


  • Minnesota 19/6

  • Philadelphia 22/12

  • Jacksonville 13/5

  • New England 1/13

Here are some key takeaways for me:

  • The average run ranking for the eventual champion was 12.4 and the average pass ranking was 13. Basically, you have to be slightly better than average in both the run and pass to win it all.

  • The best pass protection line out of the four only won it all once, New England in 2014.

  • The best run line out of the four never won it all in the last five years.

  • Seattle was the only team with a pass protection score less than 13 to win it all and that team did it with defense.

  • The only constant in the last five years is that New England will be in the final four and the will more than likely have a top 10 unit both run and pass.

This column is by no means an attack on offensive linemen and their importance, but rather a look at how having a just above average O-line doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. Texans fans, don’t let the constant badgering of your unit by sports radio hosts change your prediction of the Texans winning it all.


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Yordan Alvarez provided the offense to back up more stellar pitching by the Astros as they took ALCS game 6 to advance to the 2021 World Series. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of this series in Houston then falling behind in the series 2-1 by dropping the first of three games in Boston, the Astros took over the ALCS in Games 4 and 5, sending them back to their home crowd with a chance to finish things off in Game 6 at Minute Maid Park. After another stellar performance by their pitching staff and more timely hitting, they would accomplish that mission, winning the series and moving on to the 2021 World Series.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 0

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston wins 4-2

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Losing Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Houston strikes first to start tightly-contested Game 6

After a scoreless top of the first inning by Boston's offense, the Astros capitalized on a chance to be first to score in the bottom of the frame. Alex Bregman started the two-out rally, reaching base on a single against Nathan Eovaldi for the first hit of the night. Yordan Alvarez followed, delivering his sixth RBI of the series with a double to put Houston on top 1-0.

That did not spark further immediate scoring, as the one-run score held while both starting pitchers provided solid outings for their team. For Eovaldi, he was able to limit Houston to just that single run through four frames. He returned in the bottom of the fifth, facing two batters, allowing a single, and getting a strikeout to end his night.

Garcia impresses in big start

For the home team, they were recipients of another expectation-exceeding performance from one of their young arms. Only anticipated to go a handful of innings, Luis Garcia worked efficiently and effectively against Boston, keeping them scoreless and hitless through five innings. He continued in the sixth, getting two more outs before allowing a two-out triple, ending his night as Phil Maton would enter to strand the tying run. Garcia's final line: 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 76 P.

With both teams dipping into their bullpens, the Astros took advantage of Boston's as Yordan Alvarez's dominance went on display once again. He led the inning off with a triple, then scored on a double-play ball to extend Houston's lead to 2-0. Kendall Graveman took over on the mound in the top of the seventh and worked himself into a big moment. He gave up a one-out walk, followed by a single, which put runners on the corners for Boston. He continued to struggle with the zone, falling behind the next batter 3-1, but was able to battle back to get the strikeout paired with a terrific throw by Martin Maldonado to cut down the runner from first trying to steal second, ending the inning and maintaining the two-run advantage.

Astros headed to the World Series

Ryne Stake was Houston's next reliever, and he put Houston three outs away by getting a 1-2-3 eighth. With Ryan Pressly warming, he watched and hoped that his offense could give him some more insurance to work with when he went to the mound in the top of the ninth. His wish would be granted, as after getting two on base, Kyle Tucker would put a major exclamation point on the night's offense, hitting a three-run opposite-field homer to the Crawford Boxes to push the lead to 5-0.

Pressly, now with the five-run lead, came on to try and start the celebration by getting the final three outs. Against the tougher part of Boston's order, he would get a 1-2-3 inning, giving the Astros the American League pennant, which along with those won in 2017 and 2019, puts them back in the World Series for the third time in five years.

Up Next: The Astros will have three days off before The Fall Classic kicks off. While Game 1 will be on Tuesday, October 26th, nothing else has yet been determined as Houston awaits to see which of the Dodgers and Braves will advance out of the NL, which will also dictate if the Astros will host or travel to World Series Game 1.

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