In The Trenches: Matchups for Week 6

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 line matchups to Trust

CLE +30

Cleveland @ Houston - Sunday 1 PM ET 

JM: Last week, the Houston Texans lost J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus. Combined, they have over 100 career sacks. Of the non-Jadeveon Clowney defensive linemen and outside linebackers in the game, once Watt and Mercilus left the Texans' Week 5 battle against the Kansas City Chiefs, their team had a combined four career sacks. There was no team in the NFL with more talent on the first line of their depth chart with as little talent backing that first line as the Texans. They have since signed Lamarr Houston, but Brannan Scarlett, who has not recorded a career sack as a second-year former undrafted free agent, very well might be the team's primary pass-rusher when Clowney kicks inside.

BIT:  Right tackle Shon Coleman has quietly come into his own this season, filling the void when Mitchell Schwartz left for free agency two seasons ago. The Browns' offensive line is one of the best in the league, despite a lack of team wins. That's how quarterback play can undermine offensive line play. It doesn't show in the record but the Browns' offense improved when quarterback Kevin Hogan relieved Deshone Kizer last week. Expect the Browns' offensive line to find joy against a wounded Texans' defensive front.  

ATL +18

Miami @ Atlanta - Sunday 1 PM ET 

JM: Miami's defensive line has held up well in the run game due to Davon Godchaux and Charles Harris, two rookies, receiving reps for the team. With that being said, the team has more of an "edge-setting" mentality than a true penetrating mentality. Outside of Cameron Wake, there isn't another pass-rusher on the team who has double-digit sack potential on the roster. Atlanta is an 11-point favorite. Don't expect these guys to be getting home in the passing game often once the Falcons go up a score.

BIT: Right tackle Ryan Schraeder returned to practice on Monday after spending the last few weeks in the league's concussion protocol. The Falcons were savvy to trade with Denver for Ty Sambrailo just prior to the season and to his credit, Sambrailo played adequately in relief. Sambrailo is a mauler who is better run blocking than in pass protection while Schraeder is an All-Pro pass protector and his return patches up one of the only weak points. Assuming Schraeder is full go, the Falcons will not need to keep Austin Hooper or the backs in pass protection and can open up the offense even more (which is a scary thought for defensive coordinators). 

Defensive front matchups to trust


DEN +22

New York (N) @ Denver - Sunday 8:30 PM ET

JM: Ereck Flowers has been beaten like a drum for years, and Shaquil Barrett and Von Miller are one of the better pass-rushing tandems in the league right now. The Denver Broncos are also one of the better run-defending teams in the NFL. This is an overall mismatch, which is one reason why the Broncos are two-score favorites against the Giants.

BIT: The Giants' offensive line is actually getting a little healthier, as right tackle Bobby Hart returned to the lineup last week. That allowed Justin Pugh to play guard and John Jerry to swap back to right guard from left. Pugh and Jerry were all playing out of position without Hart. But center Weston Richburg has been ruled out with a concussion and while Brett Jones is decent as a replacement, this unit has very little in terms of positive momentum. On the road, Denver's defense will have their short knives ready.  

On a side note, this Giants' line (flawed though it may be), has been scapegoated by fans and the media for what could actually be the decline of quarterback Eli Manning (and going forward, the injury decimation at wideout).  It's just not possible to pay top-flight talent at offensive line and top-flight talent at quarterback and wideouts all at the same time, the salary cap makes it impossible. Or to put it another way, Eli Manning's contract size means the team expects the quarterback to make mediocre players like Ereck Flowers' job easier. That's my two cents, anyway. 

LAR + 18

Los Angeles (N) @ Jacksonville - Sunday 4:05 PM ET 

JM: Jacksonville doesn't get tackled in the backfield often because Leonard Fournette doesn't stop his feet at first contact. Aaron Donald doesn't stop. Something has to give in this head-to-head matchup, and the Jaguars love to run inside. Expect the blitz-heavy team to meet Fournette in the hole and backfield often. From there, all bets are off. While Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin aren't great pass-rusher at the moment, they can set the edge perfectly fine. Michael Brockers eating space in the middle should help clog up some inside runs too.

BIT: The Jaguars' offensive line made a statement last week at Pittsburgh. They just kept running and it worked, especially late in the contest. That's a good way to help young players like left tackle Cam Robinson, who has been very good starting in his rookie season. Offensive linemen usually like to go foward rather than backward. But the Jaguars (as a whole) have a problem with consistency. They blow out the Ravens in London one week and lose to the Jets the next. The team is on a huge emotional high this week and are favored hosting a West Coast team coming to the East Coast. Aaron Donald and the Rams will be a stern test this week at home.   


Team                   Unit                   Rank   Team                    Unit                     Rank Favors Diff         
Cleveland offensive line 2 @ Houston defensive front 32 OL CLE +30
Atlanta offensive line 3 vs Miami defensive front 21 OL ATL +18
Tennessee offensive line 8 vs Indianapolis defensive front 25 OL TEN +17
New England offensive line 13 @ New York (A) defensive front 30 OL NE +17
Philadelphia offensive line 6 @ Carolina defensive front 18 OL PHI +12
New Orleans offensive line 12 @ Detroit defensive front 24 OL NO +12
Detroit offensive line 15 @ New Orleans defensive front 26 OL DET +11
Chicago offensive line 7 @ Baltimore defensive front 17 OL CHI +10
Tampa Bay offensive line 17 @ Arizona defensive front 27 OL ARZ +10
Indianapolis offensive line 20 @ Tennessee defensive front 29 OL IND +9
New York (A) offensive line 23 vs New England  defensive front 31 OL NE +8
Washington offensive line 5 vs San Francisco defensive front 13 OL WAS +8
Oakland offensive line 4 vs Los Angeles (A) defensive front 10 OL OAK +6
Denver offensive line 18 vs New York (N)  defensive front 20 OL DEN +2
Minnesota offensive line 11 vs Green Bay defensive front 12 OL MIN +1


Team                   Unit                     Rank   Team                    Unit                  Rank Favors Diff          
Pittsburgh defensive front 1 @ Kansas City offensive line 25 DEF PIT +24
Denver defensive front 9 vs New York (N) offensive line 31 DEF DEN +22
Los Angeles (N) defensive front 8 @ Jacksonville offensive line 26 DEF LAR +18
Minnesota defensive front 6 vs Green Bay offensive line 16 DEF MIN +10
Chicago defensive front 19 vs Baltimore offensive line 29 DEF CHI +10
Atlanta defensive front 11 vs Miami offensive line 19 DEF ATL +8
Tampa Bay defensive front 22 @ Arizona offensive line 30 DEF TB +8
Philadelphia defensive front 15 @ Carolina offensive line 21 DEF PHI +6
Cleveland defensive front 16 @ Houston offensive line 22 DEF CLE +6
Jacksonville defensive front 4 vs Los Angeles (N) offensive line 10 DEF JAX +6
Kansas City defensive front 5 vs Pittsburgh offensive line 9 DEF KC +4
Oakland defensive front 23 vs Los Angeles (A) offensive line 24 DEF OAK +1
Washington defensive front 14 vs San Francisco offensive line 14 EVEN EVEN


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

Looking for the Offensive Line Rankings? Click Here: Week 6 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.

More articles from Matt Bitonti

See all

More articles on: Arizona Cardinals

See all

More articles on: Atlanta Falcons

See all

More articles on: Baltimore Ravens

See all