In The Trenches: Matchups for Week 13

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

Welcome back to another week "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! 

Offensive Lines to Trust

 

SF +23

San Francisco @ Chicago - Sunday 1 PM ET 

JM: The Chicago Bears were in an interesting spot to enter the season. Their pass-rusher 3-4 defensive end Cornelius Washington left for the Detroit Lions during free agency, but a trio of pass-rushers in Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young showed promise. At the moment, both Floyd and Young are on the injured reserve list. 2015 second-round pick Eddie Goldman has been a solid nose tackle coming off of a injury season in 2016, but he's not going to be mistaken for Linval Joseph anytime soon. 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard has been functional, but not a difference-maker. At the moment, it's Akiem Hicks, McPhee and "other" in the box for Chicago.

BIT: This ranking is based on the assumption that right tackle Trent Brown will be ready for the game this weekend.  Brown was late scratch for last week's game. When healthy Brown is one of the largest and best pass protecting right tackles in the sport. Brown has been dealing with a shoulder injury and was fitted for a harness. Brown was officially listed as limited at Wednesday and Thursday's practices. The placement of last week's rookie spot starter Erik Magnussen on injured reserve without signing a lineman to replace bodes well for Brown's availability. Look for the power running attack of the 49ers to get on track this week at Chicago.

TEN +22

Tennessee vs. Houston - Sunday 1 PM ET 

JM: Since Week 6, when J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus were put on the injured reserve list, here's how many tackles Houston Texans have had at or behind the line of scrimmage:
 
13: Jadeveon Clowney (EDGE)
8: Brennan Scarlett (EDGE)
7: D.J. Reader (DT)
5: Lamarr Houston (since waived and now a Chicago Bear)
 
Houston, after the loss of John Simon in free agency, were in a tough spot at the line of scrimmage. Clowney and Watt were flexible defensive ends who could play the C- or B-gap, while Mercilus was a flexible linebacker who could stunt or lineup anywhere. It was not odd for Mercilus to line up over center, while Simon filled in where ever he needed to be as the fourth pass-rusher in the defense. Then the "glue guy" in Simon left. Then the Flexibility of Watt and Mercilus were lost. At the time of Houston's signing, Scarlett was the team's top pass-rusher opposite of Clowney. Currently, Scarlett, a former undrafted free agent signing, has two sacks in his NFL career.
 
Outside of Clowney, and an underrated nose tackle in D.J. Reader, a Day 3 sophomore, there isn't someone you have to go out or your way to scheme against when you're getting ready to play the Texans.

BIT: Left tackle Taylor Lewan will have his hands full against defensive end Jadaveon Clowney this week. Clowney has been red hot of late but Lewan is no slouch. Lewan is a former top-ten pick from Michigan who wears the team captain's patch. That should be a fun matchup to watch on third and long. But Tennesee will hope to stay out of those situations by keeping their offense "on schedule." This week the Titans' offensive line should find running room at the line of scrimmage against an undermanned Texans' defensive front. 
 

Defensive Fronts to Trust

DEN +25

Denver @ Miami - Sunday 1 PM ET

JM: At the start of the season, the Denver Broncos were able to open up with back-to-back wins in elevation. Since their Week 2 home win, they've only won a single game. They are not a good team, but it's not because of their defensive front. Von Miller is still an All-World pass-rusher. Shane Ray returning from injury was a major shift. Shaquil Barrett is one of the most underrated outside linebackers in the sport. Derek Wolfe is great and Domata Peko Sr might have had the best game of his career against the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago. Young draft picks like 2017 second-rounder DeMarcus Walker and 2016 second-rounder Adam Gotsis look to takeover the line in the near future, along with the gem find of Shelby Harris. You're going to hear about these guys for a while, not matter how bad John Elway's quarterback decisions are.

BIT: The Miami offensive line is in rough shape, down at least three starters for their home clash against Denver. Only left tackle Laremy Tunsil and center Mike Pouncey remain from the ideal lineup at the start of the season. Right tackle Ju'Wuan James was placed on injured reserve three weeks ago, leaving journeyman Sam Young to start. Young has size and experience but lacks anchor and can be pushed around and out leveraged. Von Miller is his assignment this weekend. Jesse Davis, a converted defensive lineman, will likely start for Jermon Bushrod at right guard. Davis has youth and upside but is still very raw. Ted Larsen has been overmatched at left guard for Anthony Steen. Tunsil and Pouncey are good players but the Denver defensive front should be able to feast. 

LAC +22

Los Angeles (A) vs. Cleveland - Sunday 1 PM ET

JM: There are only two teams who have two pass-rushers who have more than eight sacks this season: the Jacksonville Jaguars (Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue) and the Los Angeles Chargers (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III.) Those two defensive ends not only try to mask for the linebacker-level talent that the Chargers have, but they also have contributed in the explosion of cornerback Casey Hayward over the last two seasons. Chris McCain, the team's third defensive end, may be the mold for 240-pound pass-rushers in a 4-3 defense moving forward. While he's not a star, he's a unique, successful player with a body that is being produced often at the college level. He may be one of the stepping stones to the "tweener" defensive end movement.

BIT: Left tackle Joe Thomas went on injured reserve about a month ago, ripping the heart out of this offensive line. Spencer Drango has been seeing out the string at for the winless Browns. Drango might be a decent option at guard or as a spot swing tackle but he is clearly out of his depth at left tackle. Drango has been exposed over the last two weeks against Jacksonville (3 sacks) and Cincinnati (2 sacks). On the right side, Shon Coleman had a fine start to the year but recently has been victimized by both pass rushers and penalty flags. In defense of the Browns' line, their youthful quarterback is holding the ball and breaking the pocket. The line has a decent interior players but both tackles have become a huge issue. The matchup is terrible this week for the Browns as Melvin Ingram III has been in beast mode form while Joey Bosa makes an always welcome return trip to Ohio, the state where he played his college ball. 

Offensive Line Matchups

Team                   Unit                   Rank   Team                         Unit                     Rank Favors Diff           NOTES                                        
San Francisco offensive line 7 @ Chicago defensive front 30 OL SF +23  Assuming RT Brown plays. 
Tennessee offensive line 5 vs Houston defensive front 27 OL TEN +22  
Washington offensive line 4 @ Dallas defensive front 22 OL WAS +18  
Los Angeles (N) offensive line 9 @ Arizona defensive front 26 OL LAR +17  
Baltimore offensive line 16 vs Detroit defensive front 32 OL BAL +16  
Dallas offensive line 1 vs Washington defensive front 15 OL DAL +14  
Buffalo offensive line 17 vs New England defensive front 31 OL BUF +14  
Carolina offensive line 11 @ New Orleans defensive front 25 OL CAR +14  
Oakland offensive line 3 vs New York (N) defensive front 12 OL OAK +9  
Atlanta offensive line 2 vs Minnesota defensive front 8 OL ATL +6  
Jacksonville offensive line 19 vs Indianapolis defensive front 24 OL JAX +5  
Green Bay offensive line 24 vs Tampa Bay defensive front 29 OL GB +5  
Chicago offensive line 13 vs San Francisco defensive front 17 OL CHI +4  
Pittsburgh offensive line 6 @ Cincinnati defensive front 9 OL PIT +3  
Minnesota offensive line 8 @ Atlanta defensive front 10 OL MIN +2  
New England offensive line 21 @ Buffalo defensive front 23 OL NE +2  

Defensive Front Matchups 

Team                   Unit                     Rank   Team                        Unit                   Rank Favors Diff          NOTES
Jacksonville defensive front 1 vs Indianapolis offensive line 29 DEF JAX +28  
Denver defensive front 5 @ Miami offensive line 30 DEF DEN +25  
Pittsburgh defensive front 2 @ Cincinnati offensive line 27 DEF PIT +25  
Los Angeles (A) defensive front 6 vs Cleveland offensive line 28 DEF LAC +22  
Oakland defensive front 18 vs New York (N) offensive line 32 DEF OAK +14  
New York (A) defensive front 13 vs Kansas City offensive line 22 DEF NYJ +9  
Seattle defensive front 3 vs Philadelphia offensive line 12 DEF SEA +9  
Carolina defensive front 7 @ New Orleans offensive line 15 DEF CAR +8  
Kansas City defensive front 16 @ New York (A) offensive line 23 DEF KC +7  
Miami defensive front 19 vs Denver offensive line 25 DEF MIA +6  
Philadelphia defensive front 4 @ Seattle offensive line 10 DEF PHI +6  
Green Bay defensive front 21 vs Tampa Bay offensive line 26 DEF GB +5  
Los Angeles (N) defensive front 14 @ Arizona offensive line 18 DEF LAR +4  
Baltimore defensive front 11 vs Detroit offensive line 14 DEF BAL +3  
Tennessee defensive front 28 vs Houston offensive line 31 DEF TEN +3  
Cleveland defensive front 20 @ Los Angeles (A) offensive line 20 EVEN EVEN  

Full Defensive Front Rankings

RANK TEAM                       
1 Jacksonville
2 Pittsburgh
3 Seattle
4 Philadelphia
5 Denver
6 Los Angeles (A) 
7 Carolina
8 Minnesota
9 Cincinnati
10 Atlanta
11 Baltimore
12 New York (N)
13 New York (A)
14 Los Angeles (N) 
15 Washington
16 Kansas City
17 San Francisco
18 Oakland
19 Miami
20 Cleveland
21 Green Bay
22 Dallas
23 Buffalo
24 Indianapolis
25 New Orleans
26 Arizona
27 Houston
28 Tennessee
29 Tampa Bay
30 Chicago
31 New England
32 Detroit

Looking for the Offensive Line Rankings? Click Here: Week 13 Offensive Line news and full rankings

If you have a question about a player, team or matchup not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact us via Twitter.



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