In The Trenches: Matchups for Week 2

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 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! 

Offensive Line Matchups To Trust

OAK 3rd offensive line home vs. NYJ 25th defensive front (OAK +22)

New York (A) @ Oakland
Sunday 4:05 pm Et

JM: The Buffalo Bills, who are allegedly “tanking,” just beat the New York Jets by multiple scores in the season opener. After a horrible preseason, quarterback Tyrod Taylor averaged eight yards a pass, without his projected #1 receiver entering the summer, while the Bills also ran for 190 yards.

The Jets still don't have much of a pass-rush, though Leonard Williams is one of the best young linemen in the league. Muhammad Wilkerson still has a lot of quit on him if he doesn't win on his first two or three steps, but Josh Martin could be a run-stopping outside linebacker to watch. One good player and two potentially one-sided players do not make a good unit, though. Derek Carr may come out of this game with a clean jersey.

BIT: The Raiders' offensive line has looked outstanding since Left tackle Donald Penn returned to the lineup. News sources have Penn and the team nearing a two-year contract extension. Center Rodney Hudson had one of Geoff Schwartz "Disrespectful Blocks of the Week" against the Titans defensive front. The Jets inside linebackers filled up the stat sheet last week but many of the tackles were way downfield. Guards Gabe Jackson and Kelechi Osemele get to the second level as well as any duo  in the league, look for the Raiders' offense to put up video game numbers at home against the New York Jets.  

New England 10th offensive line @ New Orleans 26th defensive front (NE +16)

New England @ New Orleans
Sunday 1 pm Et

JM: The New Orleans Saints were only able to sack Sam Bradford one time in 33 dropbacks, despite the fact that he was playing in front of five new starters on the line. He had a career game, posting a 143 passer rating. Rookie second-rounder Dalvin Cook ran for 127 yards against the Saints, too.

Sheldon Rankins is a rising defensive tackle, and Cam Jordan is one of the best ends in the league, but that does the Saints no good when he's dropping in coverage in exotic play calls. That's about as deep as New Orleans' line goes. If the Saints lose this game, they'll be 0-2. Only 8 percent of 0-2 teams have made the playoffs since 2009. This line literally might end New Orleans' season in a six-day span.

BIT: As we all know, the Patriots lost last week on Thursday night. They will have ten days to ruminate before facing a vulnerable Saints' defensive front. It was lost in the Kareem Hunt hype train but Mike Gillislee did have three touchdowns behind the Patriots' offensive line. The right side of Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon are road-graders and the rushing attack appears to be a viable option this season.  With Joe Thuney at left guard and the right side dealing, this Patriots' line has more of an attitude than in previous years.  


Pittsburgh 3rd defensive front @ Minnesota 25th offensive line (PIT +22)

Minnesota @ Pittsburgh
Sunday 1 pm ET

JM: There were worries that the recently-extended Stephon Tuitt may have been lost for the year due to an injury, but it appears that there may be a chance for both he and outside linebacker Bud Dupree to make it through a healthy 60 minutes in Week 2. If they join Javon Hargrave, a rising star, T.J. Watt, who had a two-sack and one-interception debut, and Cam Heyward, one of the quietly-dominant linemen in the NFL, there may not be any offensive lines that can keep up.

When James Harrison may be the sixth-best line of scrimmage defender on your team, you've done a great job building your team.

BIT:  The Vikings climbed seven slots this week after their performance against the New Orleans Saints at home on Monday Night Football. (Scroll to the bottom for the link to the full offensive line article for week 2). While they truly weren't as bad as the model predicted, the Saints were a below average front and the team should have a very different test on the road, outside, on grass, at Pittburgh. Right tackle Mike Remmers looked vulnerable in the preseason, look for the Steelers' defensive front to attack his side of the line whenever possible.

Chicago 9th defensive front vs. Tampa Bay 23rd offensive line (CHI +14)

Chicago @ Tampa Bay
Sunday 1 pm ET

JM: In the last couple of weeks, the world has learned about Akiem Hicks. Hicks is one of the best linemen in the sport, but just after a year and change after coming to Chicago on the cheap, he signed a “surprising” extension right before the season. He then “surprisingly” dominated Atlanta's offensive line.

This shouldn't have been a surprise. He's been great for over a year. That probably means that Leonard Floyd, and his Gumby pass-rushing style, and Eddie Goldman, a rising star who was injured last year, get discovered this week in Tampa Bay's season opener. Quietly, the Bears have one of the best front sevens in football, though they'll have to replace starting inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman this season after losing starting inside linebacker Danny Trevathan for seven games in 2015.

BIT:  With the hurricane bye in week 1, we don't have film on the Buccaneers. It's a mixed group,  good news and bad news with Tampa Bay offensive line this season.  While still raw, Ali Marpet at center brings a rare bulk to the position. Donovan Smith is a decent pass blocker at left tackle but his run blocking needs work. Demar Dotson at right tackle has an opposite skill set and could be in an age-related decline. The matchup to watch is Akiem Hicks against right guard J.R. Sweezy. Sweezy missed all of the last season with a back injury. While he looked decent in preseason, the regular season will be the final obstacle to Sweezy's physical rehabilitation. 

Offensive Line Matchups

Team                 Unit                   Rank   Team                   Unit                      Rank Diff           
Oakland offensive line 3 vs New York (A) defensive front 25 OAK +22
Arizona offensive line 13 @ Indianapolis defensive front 31 ARZ +18
New England offensive line 10 @ New Orleans defensive front 26 NE +16
New York (N) offensive line 14 vs Detroit defensive front 30 NYG +16
Dallas offensive line 1 @ Denver defensive front 12 DAL +11
Baltimore offensive line 22 vs Cleveland defensive front 32 BAL +10
Philadelphia offensive line 9 @ Kansas City defensive front 19 PHI +10
Denver offensive line 19 vs Dallas defensive front 29 DEN +10
Buffalo offensive line 7 @ Carolina defensive front 16 BUF +9
Atlanta offensive line 6 vs Green Bay defensive front 11 ATL +5
Detroit offensive line 16 @ New York (N) defensive front 20 DET +4
Washington offensive line 5 @ Los Angeles (N) defensive front 7 WAS +2
Jacksonville offensive line 26 vs Tennessee defensive front 27 JAX +1
Green Bay offensive line 12 @ Atlanta defensive front 13 GB +1
Pittsburgh offensive line 4 vs Minnesota defensive front 4 EVEN
Cleveland offensive line 2 @ Baltimore defensive front 2 EVEN

Defensive Front Matchups

Team                     Unit                      Rank   Team                        Unit                        Rank Diff           
Pittsburgh defensive front 3 @ Minnesota offensive line 25 PIT +22
Houston defensive front 17 vs Cincinnati offensive line 32 HOU +15
Seattle defensive front 1 @ San Francisco offensive line 15 SEA +14
Chicago defensive front 9 vs Tampa Bay offensive line 23 CHI +14
Philadelphia defensive front 8 vs Kansas City offensive line 17 PHI +9
Oakland defensive front 23 @ New York (A) offensive line 31 OAK+9
Tampa Bay defensive front 14 @ Chicago offensive line 21 TB +7
Cincinnati defensive front 22 @ Houston offensive line 28 CIN +6
Arizona defensive front 21 vs Indianapolis offensive line 27 ARZ +6
Washington defensive front 18 vs Los Angeles (N) offensive line 24 WAS +6
New England defensive front 24 vs New Orleans offensive line 29 NE +5
Miami  defensive front 15 vs Los Angeles (A) offensive line 18 MIA +3
Jacksonville defensive front 6 @ Tennessee offensive line 8 JAX +2
Los Angeles (A) defensive front 18 @ Miami  offensive line 20 LAC +2
San Francisco defensive front 28 vs Seattle offensive line 30 SF +2
Buffalo defensive front 10 vs Carolina offensive line 11 BUF +1

Full Defensive Front Rankings

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

Looking for the Offensive Lines? Click Here: Week 2 Offensive Line news and full rankings

As usual, if you have a question about a team not specifically talked about in this article, please feel free to contact us via Twitter.

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