In The Trenches: Matchups for Week 3

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! 


2nd CLE offensive line @ 31st IND defensive front (CLE +29).  

Sunday 1pm ET - Cleveland @ Indianapolis 

JM: The Indianapolis Colts spent plenty of money on free agents Jonathan Hankins, John Simon and Jabaal Sheard this offseason, but those three players have combined for just one sack, the same amount as former Estonian track and field star Margus Hunt. They are the front end of one of the worst pass defenses in football two weeks into the season and at best a half-decent team in run defense. It's simple, what Cleveland bought on the offensive line just outmatches the baseline level of front five play that Indianapolis acquired this offseason.

BIT: Led by Joe Thomas at left tackle, the Cleveland offensive line has been underrated for years. Left guard Joel Bitonio has returned to form after last year's season-ending injury and this offseason the team invested big money in free agent acquisitions center J.C. Tretter and right guard Kevin Zeitler. Right tackle Shon Coleman is still growing into the position and right tackle could be considered the weak point. Also, this is one of those situations where quarterback uncertainty can upset the model. Still, the power running attack with Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr should find room against an Indianapolis defensive front that is far weaker than last week's foe, the Baltimore Ravens.  

1st DAL offensive line @ 23rd ARZ defensive front (DAL +22).

MONDAY 8:30 PM ET - DALLAS @ Arizona 

JM: The Arizona Cardinals were one of the best teams in the NFL at racking up sacks relative to how often they faced dropbacks. This year, they're in the bottom 10 so far. Chandler Jones did have himself a solid half last week against Indianapolis, but that's been about as much as we've seen from this Cardinals front so far in the passing game. The loss of Calais Campbell, who currently leads the league in sacks, hurts them in that aspect, but they are improving as a run defense. Defensive end Josh Mauro is someone who makes more plays for Arizona than non-film grinders realize.

BIT: Last week the offense was stymied at Denver, but there's still a ton to like about the Cowboys' offensive line. Right tackle La'el Collins is an ascending player and after a good performance against Jason Pierre-Paul in Week 1 and a mixed performance against Von Miller in Week 2, there's film to prove he's not doing too badly in his transition from guard. Look for the Dallas skill positions to produce against Arizona's injury depleted defensive front. 

Defensive Front Matchups to Trust 

3rd PHI defensive front vs. 25th NYG offensive line (PHI +23)


JM: We've all noticed that Ereck Flowers has been an issue in New York. To be honest, he's as inconsistent in 2017 as he was in 2014 at the University of Miami when he was getting beaten up by Randy Gregory, then of Nebraska. Look for him to lose some one-on-one battles against the trio of first-round pick Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham. On the interior, Fletcher Cox and the trade acquisition Timmy Jernigan are one of the best duos in the league. This team ranks high in sacks already and is rarely getting ran on. When former second overall pick Chris Long is the sixth most-notable name on your line, you're doing it right.

BIT: This divisional matchup features a home Eagles' defensive front in red-hot form hosting a visiting Giants' offensive line that is injured, shuffled around and lacking confidence. Justin Pugh should be starting at left guard but he's at right tackle for Bobby Hart. Ereck Flowers is under siege by the New York media and John Jerry has also been putrid at right guard this season. The unit needs to turn it around but could find it tough this week.  

6th LAC defensive front vs. 24th KC offensive line (LAC +18)

Sunday 4:25 PM ET - Kansas City @ Los Angeles (A)

JM: While most know that Joey Bosa is a stud pass-rusher, many aren't aware that Melvin Ingram III is one of the biggest difference-makers in football. When a game was within a score since 2016, Bosa has had 9.5 sacks, good for fifth in the NFL, while Ingram has had 7.5, right behind him. Defensive tackle Corey Luiget, quietly one of the higher-paid linemen in the league, is 3rd in the league in run tackles of 0 yards or less in the same situation among interior defensive lineman. Don't sleep on this line's potential. Relative to outpacing NFL averages, this line is already in the top 10 in the league in both sacks and run tackles of 0 yards or fewer in 2017.

BIT: Center Mitch Morse left last week's win over Philadelphia with what coaches are calling a "foot sprain." The team is calling it a 2-4 week injury but it could take longer for Morse to return to full health. Morse had been playing well and is underrated in casual circles; he's actually one of the better young centers in the league. Zach Fulton is a decent veteran replacement and it will be interesting to see if the Kansas City offense can continue their hot start on the road against a tough Chargers' defensive front. 


Team                   Unit                        Rank   Team                  Unit                      Rank Diff           
Cleveland offensive line 2 @ Indianapolis defensive front 31 CLE +29
Dallas offensive line 1 @ Arizona defensive front 23 DAL +22
Washington offensive line 5 vs Oakland defensive front 24 WAS +19
Carolina offensive line 10 vs New Orleans defensive front 28 CAR +18*
Atlanta offensive line 8 @ Detroit defensive front 25 ATL +17
Oakland offensive line 3 @ Washington defensive front 19 OAK +16
Miami offensive line 14 @ New York (A) defensive front 27 MIA +13
Indianapolis  offensive line 21 vs Cleveland defensive front 32 IND +11
New England offensive line 9 vs Houston defensive front 19 NE+9
Philadelphia offensive line 7 vs New York (N) defensive front 16 PHI +9
Arizona offensive line 23 vs Dallas defensive front 30 ARZ +7
Detroit offensive line 12 vs Atlanta defensive front 17 DET +5
Houston offensive line 22 @ New England defensive front 26 HOU +4
Pittsburgh offensive line 4 @ Chicago defensive front 8 PIT +4
Los Angeles (N) offensive line 17 vs San Francisco defensive front 20 LAR +3
* = Carolina offensive line ranking assumes C Ryan Kalil (neck) plays this week. Tyler Larsen to replace.



Team                     Unit                     Rank   Team                         Unit                  Rank Diff         
Philadelphia defensive front 3 vs New York (N) offensive line 25 PHI +23
Los Angeles (A) defensive front 6 @ Kansas City offensive line 24 LAC +18
Green Bay defensive front 14 vs Cincinnati offensive line 32 GB +18
Baltimore defensive front 2 @ Jacksonville offensive line 19 BAL +17
Miami defensive front 13 @ New York (A) offensive line 30 MIA +17
Jacksonville defensive front 12 vs Baltimore offensive line 28 JAX +16
Kansas City defensive front 11 @ Los Angeles (A) offensive line 26 KC +15
Minnesota defensive front 4 @ Tampa Bay offensive line 16 MIN +12
Buffalo defensive front 10 vs Denver offensive line 20 BUF +10
Pittsburgh defensive front 5 @ Chicago offensive line 15 PIT +10
Cincinnati defensive front 22 @ Green Bay offensive line 29 CIN +7
Carolina defensive front 21 vs New Orleans offensive line 27 CAR +6
Seattle defensive front 1 @ Tennessee offensive line 6 SEA +5
Los Angeles (N) defensive front 7 vs San Francisco offensive line 11 LAR +4
Denver defensive front 9 @ Buffalo offensive line 13 DEN +4*
Tampa Bay defensive front 15 @ Minnesota offensive line 18 TB +3
Tennessee defensive front 29 vs Seattle offensive line 31 TEN +2
* = Buffalo offensive line ranking assumes LT Cordy Glenn (foot) misses this week. Dion Dawkins to replace. 


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

Looking for the Offensive Lines? Click Here: Week 3 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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