In The Trenches: Matchups for Week 17

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.

The recipe is to take Bitonti's offensive line rankings and compare them to Mosqueda's defensive front rankings.

The goal is to isolate and discuss the choicest matchups of the slate, through a "three-point stance" perspective.

All of the matchups are listed at the bottom of the article.

Let's get after it!


PIT +22

Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland- Sunday 1 PM ET

JM: If you have a struggling offensive line, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a nightmare. The Steelers temporarily derailing the Kansas City Chiefs' season was not a coincidence. With the way that DeShone Kizer holds onto the ball, there will be carnage. This team is still trying to lock up seeding. A full-effort Steelers team, with some sort of motivation to prove themselves with James Harrison gone, could be a nightmare.

About a month ago it was reported on twitter that Browns' left tackle Spencer Drango was tipping plays. Teams were keying on Drango's footwork and were able to diagnose the play just by focusing on Joe Thomas' replacement. The NFL is a tough league and there's always going to be a surivival of the fittest attitude. Right tackle Shon Coleman (a second year player out of Auburn) has been inconsistant, although not as bad as Drango. The guard play is solid,but the tackles make the offensive line a low-tier unit. The Browns will have their hands full this weekend facing a motivated Steelers' defensive front on the road. Kickoff temperature is forecast to be 16 degrees. 


SEA +22

Seattle @ Arizona - Sunday 4:25 PM ET 

JM: While the Seattle Seahawks defense hasn't been great this year, it hasn't been because of their defensive line. They lost Cliff Avril to a neck injury, but the additions of Sheldon Richardson and Dion Jordan, with Frank Clark coming off the bench to take over as a starting defensive end for Seattle, has helped them patch up their line of scrimmage unit. On the back end, they have had no such luck with depth. Michael Bennett, the end opposite of Clark, is still one of the best in the league.

BIT: Right guard Earl Watford returned to practice this week. Watford has been dealing with a high ankle sprain, and is listed as questionable. It is not clear if the team would start Watford, given the team's lack of playoff hope. Evan Boehm had been starting his place. Another injury replacement, left tackle Will Holden, has struggled in his two most recent starts. The Cardinals have given Holden help in the form of running backs and tight end chips, and as a result the offense would much rather run than pass the football. If the home team gets behind the Seahawks and is forced to pass, these replacement matchups are ripe to be exploited. 



MIN +21

Minnesota vs. Chicago - Sunday 1 PM ET

JM: According to Pro Football Reference, Sam Acho, Akiem Hicks and Lamarr Houston were the only line of scrimmage defenders for the Chicago Bears to play more than 50% of the team's defensive snaps last week. Acho, who has 11 starts under his belt, had not started even a half-season since 2012 up to this season. Houston was on the Texans a few weeks ago. While Hicks is a great 3-4 defensive end, to say injuries have hit the Bears hard this season, despite the fact that they've improved in record, is an understatement.

BIT: The Vikings' offensive line has dealt with two injuries this week. Left guard Nick Easton was placed on injured reserve with a broken leg. Later in the week, the team announced that they would rest center Pat Elfein's ailing shoulder for the post season. The projected starting line up for week 17 against Chicago is (from left to right): Riley Reiff - Jeremiah Sirles - Joe Berger - Mike Remmers - Rashod Hill. It's not great from a cohesion perspective but these are all versatile and strong players in their primes. This new look line should respond well at home against Chicago's ailing defensive front.  


Team                   Unit                  Rank   Team Unit                      Rank Favors Diff               NOTES                   
Minnesota offensive line 9 vs Chicago defensive front 30 OL MIN +21  
Seattle offensive line 8 @ Arizona defensive front 25 OL SEA +17  
New Orleans offensive line 11 @ Tampa Bay defensive front 27 OL NO +16  
Jacksonville offensive line 5 @ Tennessee defensive front 20 OL JAX +15  
Pittsburgh offensive line 2 vs Cleveland defensive front 17 OL PIT +15  
Philadelphia offensive line 7 vs Dallas defensive front 19 OL PHI +12  
Miami offensive line 18 vs Buffalo defensive front 29 OL MIA +11  
New England offensive line 15 vs New York (A) defensive front 26 OL NE +11  
Green Bay offensive line 23 @ Detroit defensive front 32 OL GB +9  
Atlanta offensive line 1 vs Carolina defensive front 10 OL ATL +9  
San Francisco offensive line 16 @ Los Angeles (N) defensive front 24 OL SF +8 LAR Starters (Donald) resting.
Carolina offensive line 4 @ Atlanta defensive front 9 OL CAR +5  
New York (A) offensive line 27 @ New England defensive front 31 OL NYJ +4  
Denver offensive line 17 vs Kansas City defensive front 21 OL DEN +4  
Buffalo offensive line 13 @ Miami defensive front 16 OL BUF +3  
New York (N) offensive line 11 vs Washington defensive front 13 OL NYG +2  
Los Angeles (A) offensive line 14 vs Oakland defensive front 15 OL LAC +1  


Team                   Unit                     Rank   Team                   Unit                  Rank Favors Diff          NOTES            
Pittsburgh defensive front 2 vs Cleveland offensive line 24 DEF PIT +22  
Seattle defensive front 6 @ Arizona offensive line 25 DEF SEA +19  
Denver defensive front 4 vs Kansas City offensive line 21 DEF DEN +17  
San Francisco defensive front 14 @ Los Angeles (N) offensive line 31 DEF SF +17 (Whitworth) resting 
Green Bay defensive front 18 @ Detroit offensive line 30 DEF GB +12  
Minnesota defensive front 7 vs Chicago offensive line 19 DEF MIN +12  
Baltimore defensive front 11 vs Cincinnati offensive line 22 DEF BAL +11  
Indianapolis defensive front 22 vs Houston offensive line 32 DEF IND +10  
New York (N) defensive front 12 vs Washington offensive line 20 DEF NYG +8  
Jacksonville defensive front 1 @ Tennessee offensive line 6 DEF JAX +5  
Los Angeles (A) defensive front 5 vs Oakland offensive line 10 DEF LAC +5  
Cincinnati defensive front 8 @ Baltimore offensive line 12 DEF CIN +4  
New Orleans defensive front 23 @ Tampa Bay offensive line 26 DEF NO +3  
Houston defensive front 28 @ Indianapolis offensive line 28 EVEN EVEN  
Philadelphia defensive front 3 vs Dallas offensive line 3 EVEN EVEN  


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

Looking for the Offensive Line Rankings? Click Here: Week 17 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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