The impact that winning the battle of the line of scrimmage has on a team's performance cannot be overstated. Over a decade of research I've done in measuring run blocking indicates that ball carriers are four to five times more productive on plays with good run blocking versus plays with bad run blocking. The passing game also displays a huge disparity, as quarterbacks are roughly three times as productive on a yards-per-dropback basis with a clean pass pocket as they are on dropbacks when pass rush pressure is impacting the pass pocket.
These elements can be even more impactful now that we have reached the divisional playoff round of the 2017 NFL campaign, so let's take a look at how the playoff remaining graded out in their blocking walls (a term that includes anyone who blocks on a play) and their defensive front sevens.
The details of the grading system used to gauge those unit groups performances can be found here, with the nutshell explanation being that it uses a variety of advanced blocking and defensive metrics to come up with an A through F grade for every platoon. And for the completists in the audience, here are the grades for all 32 teams this season.
Offensive blocking wall grades for the divisional round
2017 run-blocking grade: A
2017 pass-blocking grade: A-
2017 overall blocking grade: A
Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram rightfully get a lot of credit for being the first pair of running back teammates selected to the Pro Bowl in at least 42 years, but a lot of those kudos need to go to the New Orleans blocking wall that graded out as the best in the league this season. The elite blocking allowed the Saints to finish first in my good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) metric that measures per carry prowess on rushing plays with good blocking (8.9) as well as claim the top spot in my good-blocking productivity (GBP) metric that gauges overall rush game production (4.1).
The Saints' pass blocking was nearly as powerful, as New Orleans finished second in ESPN Stats & Information's pass pressure rate (PPR) metric that measures how often an offense allows pass rush pressure (20.1 percent).