In The Trenches: Matchups for Week 4

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!



SEA +23

1st SEA defensive front vs. 24th IND offensive line.


JM: Cliff Avril is one of the best edge-benders in football. Playing inside or outside of an offensive tackle is no issue for Michael Bennett. Frank Clark is going to be a 10-year stud pass-rusher in the NFL if his off-field concerns don't flare up. Sheldon Richardson racks up tackles for a loss like almost no other interior defensive lineman does. What more is there to say? This is the best defensive line that we've seen since the Warren Sapp Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

BIT: The Colts' offensive line is a talented group but they are also very young. Several of the starters (left guard Jeremy Vujnovich,  right tackle Le'Raven Clark and center Deyshawn Bond) have little experience prior to this season. Left tackle Anthony Castonzo is the old man at 29.The unit committed three false start penalties last week in the home win against Cleveland. Holding their water could be a real problem on the road in Seattle, against the intense noise and the top-ranked defensive front in all of the league.  

PIT +23

5th PIT defensive front @ 28th BAL offensive line.


JM: Edge defender T.J. Watt's sacks may not be impressive on the relative scale of NFL sacks, but he's generating pressure at the rate of a top-end rookie. Both he, defensive end Stephon Tuitt and outside linebacker Bud Dupree, all top-50 picks, were listed as full participants in practice this week. Add Javon Hargrave, a three-tech turned nose tackle, Tyson Alualu, a nickel interior lineman, James Harrison, who may be fighting off an illness on gameday, and Cameron Hayward, one of the best interior linemen in the league, and you have a pretty dominant force up front.

BIT: One week after losing left guard Marshal Yanda for the season, it's not all that surprising the wheels came off for the Ravens' offense last week in London. Matt Skura got the start and rotated snaps with native Brit Jermaine Eluemunor. Neither were that great. Tony Bergstrom was inactive but he is another option, as he replaced Yanda during Week 2. The problem is that this is far from the first major loss for this unit (Alex Lewis, Nico Siragusa, John Urschel's retirement). The depth cupboard is bare for the Ravens, who host a loaded Steelers' defensive front this Sunday. 

PHI +18

3rd PHI defensive front @ 21nd LAC offensive line.


JM: This is finally the year in which Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham's sack stats are going to match his contribution on the field. In a rotation with Vinny Curry, who is somehow making more money than him, and Derek Barnett, a first-round pick, there aren't many bookend pairings league-wide that can go toe-to-toe with Philadelphia. On the interior, the combination of Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan, two top-20 defensive tackles, make it so that everyone across the board is essentially a penetration threat on any given down. Los Angeles has struggled to run the ball all year. Expect the run-run-pass-punt offense to continue. If Eagles fans travel and get the Chargers into a silent count, expect Barnett to smell blood in the water. His biggest positive in college at the University of Tennessee was knowing when Rocky Top could give him a free jump on the ball.

BIT: The Chargers' offensive line is not a bad unit, and in fact, they are trending upward this week with the return of right tackle Joe Barksdale from a foot injury. Left tackle Russell Okung has been their best run blocker; he and left guard Matt Slauson form a violent duo on that side of the offense. This "bad matchup" is more about the other team, which is loaded at every position. In particular, center Spencer Pulley and right guard Kenny Wiggins could be victimized by the Eagles' interior rush. 



CLE +20

2nd CLE offensive line @ 22nd CIN defensive front.


JM: Cincinnati doesn't have a bad defensive line, but they do have a splashy defensive line. Geno Atkins is the best of the bunch, but Carlos Dunlap isn't repeating his 2016 performance in which he was a top-five defensive end in the AFC. With that being said, fourth-round rookie and former All-American Carl Lawson is emerging after a 2.5-sack game against the Green Bay Packers last week. The Bengals are living off of the big play potential of two players right now, and the peaks just may not being there against one of the most expensive offensive lines in football.

BIT: This week Browns right guard Kevin Zeitler faces his old team the Bengals for the first time. Zeitler spent 5 seasons with the other Ohio team and he is a rock solid interior blocker. This is a divisional game where both teams see this as a winnable situation. Last week's In The Trenches article lead off with a call that Cleveland's line would find success last week. While they didn't win the game (and haven't all year) the Browns' rushing attack remains healthy from a fantasy perspective. 


Team                             Unit                   Rank   Team                       Unit                     Rank Favors Diff          NOTES
Cleveland offensive line 2 vs Cincinnati defensive front 22 OL CLE +20  
Minnesota offensive line 11 vs Detroit defensive front 25 OL DET +14  
Miami offensive line 15 vs New Orleans defensive front 28 OL MIA +13 LONDON
Tennessee offensive line 6 @ Houston defensive front 18 OL TEN +12  
San Francisco offensive line 12 @ Arizona defensive front 23 OL SF +11  
Los Angeles (N) offensive line 19 @ Dallas defensive front 30 OL LAR +11  
Carolina offensive line 17 @ New England defensive front 26 OL CAR +9  
Washington offensive line 4 @ Kansas City defensive front 11 OL WAS +7  
Dallas offensive line 1 vs Los Angeles (N) defensive front 7 OL DAL +6  
Oakland offensive line 3 @ Denver defensive front 9 OL OAK +6  
New Orleans offensive line 7 @ Miami defensive front 13 OL NO +6 LONDON
New England offensive line 16 vs Carolina defensive front 21 OL NE +5  
Jacksonville offensive line 22 @ New York (A) defensive front 27 OL JAX +5  
Chicago offensive line 10 @ Green Bay defensive front 14 OL CHI +4  
Houston offensive line 25 vs Tennessee defensive front 29 OL HOU +4  
Buffalo offensive line 14 @ Atlanta defensive front 17 OL BUF +3  
Atlanta offensive line 8 vs Buffalo defensive front 10 OL ATL +2  
Philadelphia offensive line 5 @ Los Angeles (A) defensive front 6 OL PHI +1  
Denver offensive line 23 vs Oakland defensive front 24 OL DEN +1  



Team                  Unit                     Rank   Team                   Unit                  Rank Favors Diff         NOTES                       
Seattle defensive front 1 vs Indianapolis offensive line 24 DEF SEA +23  
Pittsburgh defensive front 5 @ Baltimore offensive line 28 DEF PIT +23  
Chicago defensive front 8 @ Green Bay  offensive line 29 DEF CHI +21  
Philadelphia defensive front 3 @ Los Angeles (A) offensive line 21 DEF PHI +18  
Jacksonville  defensive front 12 @ New York (A) offensive line 30 DEF JAX +18  
Tampa Bay defensive front 15 vs New York (N) offensive line 26 DEF TB +11  
Minnesota defensive front 4 vs Detroit offensive line 13 DEF MIN +9  
Baltimore defensive front 2 vs Pittsburgh offensive line 9 DEF BAL +7  
San Francisco defensive front 20 @ Arizona offensive line 27 DEF SF +7  
New York (N) defensive front 16 @ Tampa Bay offensive line 18 DEF NYG +2  
Washington defensive front 19 @ Kansas City offensive line 20 DEF WAS +1  
Indianapolis defensive front 31 @ Seattle offensive line 31 EVEN EVEN  
Cleveland defensive front 32 vs Cincinnati offensive line 32 EVEN EVEN WORST ON WORST

Full Defensive Front Rankings

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 4 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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