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In The Trenches: Matchups for Preseason Week 3

Written by Matt Bitonti and Justis Mosqueda. Comparing offensive and defensive lines to find the best matchups for the week. 

Welcome to the first attempt at "In The Trenches." 

Every week we will take Bitonti's offensive line rankings and compare them to Mosqueda's defensive front rankings, and combine the two with the goal of isolating and discussing the choicest matchups.  All of the matchups are listed at the bottom of the article. 

Let's get after it! 

Best Matchups Of The Week  

BUF @ BAL

BAL 23rd ranked offensive line @ BUF 1st ranked defensive front (BUF +22) 

JM: Jerry Hughes looks like a full-blown superstar again in his first year back in a 4-3 defense. He's a legitimate threat to record double-digit sacks season and threaten Baltimore's offense this week. Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus are the league's most underrated defensive tackle duo, while 2016 first-round pick Shaq Lawson and preseason standout Eddie Yarbrough continue to battle for the starting end spot opposite of Hughes. Three blue chip defensive linemen beat one blue chip offensive lineman every time.

BIT: The Baltimore offensive line has been snake bit by injuries this preseason. For this week's game, they could be without the services of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who has missed practice for a week with an unspecified injury. Center Jeremy Zuttah rejoined the team through free agency and it will be interesting to see how (and how much) he plays. Zuttah's arrival should send Vlad Ducasse back to the bench. Right guard Marshal Yanda is a stud but this week the Raven's offensive line will have their hands full with the Bills' defensive front. 

NYJ @ NYG (neutral site - shared stadium)

NYJ 31st ranked offensive line @ NYG 6th ranked defensive front (NYG +25) 

JM: Oliver Vernon covered Cleveland Browns running back Duke Johnson on a deep route last week for a pass deflection. If you pay attention to the Giants' defensive line, you'll see something amazing every week. The defensive end duo of Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul is one of the best and highest-paid in the NFL. Damon "Snacks" Harrison is a space-eating nose tackle who lead defensive tackles in tackles last season. Jay Bromley, a 2014 third-round pick, finally gets his chance to shine with Jonathan Hankins leaving town for the Indianapolis Colts. Just one week after head coach Todd Bowles said that quarterback Christian Hackenberg couldn't be evaluated due to poor offensive line play, the New York Jets have to face that Giants fearsome foursome. 

BIT: The Jets' offensive line has been inconsistant this preseason. Left guard James Carpenter has played well but right guard Brian Winters has been terrible so far this preseason. The guards are the strength of this unit as left tackle Kelvin Beachum still looks rusty and right tackle is a competition between Brent Qvale and Brandon Shell. Shell should win the job but he's still raw technically.  At center, Wesley Johnson is holding off Jonotthan Harrison, but neither have been great. The quarterback uncertainty has hurt this unit. They are a low-tier line who will likely be in trouble against the Giants' fearsome defensive front.   

CLE @ TB

CLE  3rd OL @ TB 26th DF (CLE +23)

JM: Tampa's interior defensive line of Gerald McCoy and Chris Baker is solid, but they both play the same position, and the rest of the starters on the line are questionable. The Buccaneers also installed a 3-4 defense for the first time under this administration according to Pewter Report. That "base" 4-3 defense keeps Robert Ayers and Baker, two of the team's four highest-paid defensive linemen, off of the field. The Buccaneers have both invested in their defensive line and need to improve their defensive line, and the dance it will take to accomplish this move is worth a Matt Leinart college credit. Mixing and matching 4-3 ends and 3-4 outside linebackers vs. Cleveland's weak right tackle slot may be the team's only chance at a sack against the Browns.

BIT: The Browns' offensive line has been resting star tackle Joe Thomas, and it wouldn't be surprising if the ten year vet was protected for another preseason game. left guard Joel Bitonio has also been out with a knee injury. Right tackle Shon Coleman is an interesting young starter but in his second year he is still learning. But assuming the left side plays, the Cleveland line is one of the league's best, and they should find success against the undermanned Tampa Bay defensive front. 

OAK @ DAL 

25th OAK DL @ DAL 1st OL (DAL +24)

JM: While Bruce Irvin plays on and off the ball, he doesn't rush the passer on every down line a defensive lineman does. This is one reason why Khalil Mack's life is so hard. Last year, he recorded 11 sacks, and the Oakland Raiders were still 32nd in sack percentage. One man does not make a unit. Mario Edwards and Jihad Ward are two top-45 picks who were supposed to help Mack out. In three combined seasons, they have just two sacks between them. You can make the case that Eddie Vanderdoes, a third-round rookie nose tackle, is the team's second-best lineman at the moment. Dallas has four potential Pro Bowlers on their offensive line. Expect the worst.

BIT: The Cowboys' offensive line is the best in football, and the reason is the invididual talent at nearly every position. The three All-Pro's (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and Zack Martin) are dominators. La'el Collins has been smashing people since his move to right tackle,  and even the so called "weak link" at left guard, Jonathan Cooper, is a former top-10 draft pick with rare physical gifts. The Cowboys' line isn't just good, it's historically good. There aren't going to be lines that score this highly in the model every season. 

LAC @ LAR

LAC 26th offensive line @ LAR 3rd defensive front (LAR +23)

JM: There's some volatility here. Aaron Donald is a world-beater defensive tackle who is a holdout, which may last through the first two and half months of the regular season. Pass-rusher Robert Quinn took a personal leave earlier in the summer, returned and then has missed games due to "maintenance." You can make the case that both are top 10 defenders in the NFL when they're "on." The Rams' matchup with the cross-town Chargers will hinge on their availability. 

BIT: The Chargers' offensive line has some interesting players. Left tackle Russell Okung was named captain by his teammates and left guard Matt Slauson is rock solid. They lost right guard Forrest Lamp for the year but Kenny Wiggins is an experienced backup. There's nothing terrible about the Chargers' offensive line, but neither is there anything amazing. They do not have the rare talent on the level of Aaron Donald, and it's probably a good thing he's holding out. Still the Chargers' offensive line should come up short against the talented Rams' defensive front. 

FULL MATCHUPS 

 

Thursday

MIA @ PHI

MIA 21st ranked offensive line @ PHI 2nd ranked defensive front (PHI +19)
MIA 20th ranked defensive front @ PHI 10th ranked offensive line (PHI +10)

CAR @ JAX

CAR 15th ranked offensive line @ 22nd JAX ranked defensive front (CAR +7)
CAR 15th ranked defensive front @ 27th JAX ranked offensive line(CAR +12)

Friday

NE @ DET

NE 14th ranked offensive line @ DET 30th ranked defensive front (NE +16)
NE 28th ranked defensive front @ DET 16th ranked offensive line (DET +12)

KC @ SEA

KC 18th ranked offensive line @ SEA 4th ranked defensive front (SEA +16)
KC 14th ranked defensive front @ SEA 29th ranked offensive line (KC +15)

Saturday

ARZ @ ATL

ATL 5th ranked offensive line @ ARZ 16th ranked defensive front (ATL +11)
ARZ 11th ranked offensive line @ ATL 14th ranked defensive front (ARZ +3)

BUF @ BAL

BAL 23rd ranked offensive line @ BUF 1st ranked defensive front (BUF +22)
BAL 4th ranked defensive front @ BUF 6th ranked offensive line (BAL +2)

NYJ @ NYG (neutral site - shared stadium)

NYJ 31st ranked offensive line @ NYG 6th ranked defensive front (NYG +25)
NYJ 21st ranked defensive front @ NYG 7th ranked offensive line (NYG +14)

IND @ PIT

IND 25th ranked offensive line @ PIT 12th ranked defensive front (PIT +13)
IND 19th ranked defensive front @ PIT 4th ranked offensive line (PIT +15)

CLE @ TB

CLE 3rd ranked offensive line @ TB 26th ranked defensive front (CLE +23)
CLE 29th ranked defensive front @ TB 24th ranked offensive line (TB +5)

OAK @ DAL

OAK 22nd ranked offensive line @ DAL 31st ranked defensive front (OAK +9)
OAK 25th ranked defensive front @ DAL 1st ranked offensive line (DAL +24)

LAC @ LAR

LAC 26th ranked offensive line @ LAR 3rd ranked defensive front (LAR +23)
LAC 11th ranked defensive front @ LAR 17th ranked offensive line (LAC +6)

HOU @ NO

HOU 28th ranked offensive line @ NO 32nd ranked defensive front (HOU +4)
HOU 7th ranked defensive front @ NO 13th ranked offensive line (HOU +5)

GB @ DEN

GB 19th ranked offensive line @ DEN 24th ranked defensive front (GB +5)
GB 10th ranked defensive front @ DEN 20th ranked offensive line (GB +10)

Sunday

CHI @ TEN

CHI 12th ranked offensive line @ TEN 18th ranked defensive front (CHI +6)
CHI 8th ranked defensive front @ TEN 8th ranked offensive line (EVEN)

CIN @ WAS

CIN 32nd ranked offensive line @ WAS 27th ranked defensive front (WAS +5)
CIN 17th ranked defensive front @ WAS 2nd ranked offensive line (WAS +15)

SF @ MIN

SF 9th ranked offensive line @ MIN 9th ranked defensive front (EVEN)
SF 23rd ranked defensive front @ MIN 30th ranked offensive line (SF +7)