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
ATL + 28
ATLANTA @ NEW ENGLAND - Sunday 8:30 PM ET
JM: Based on NFL averages this season, the New England Patriots have 16 fewer tackles in the backfield than the average NFL team. That is by far the worst mark in the NFL. That number is almost twice as bad as the third-worst team, the Detroit Lions. Specifically, making backfield tackles in the run game has been an issue for New England for two years. Three weeks into the season, the team only has one player (defensive tackle Malcom Brown, three tackles) who has more than just two tackles at the line of scrimmage or better in 2017. The Patriots' defensive issue is as much a defensive line talent issue as anything else. I wrote about New England's loss of defensive line talent over the years for Bleacher Report earlier this month.
BIT: The Falcons' line had a rough outing last week against the Miami Dolphins. Cameron Wake victimized right tackle Ryan Schraeder for two sacks. Schraeder had been making his debut after three weeks in the league concussion protocol. Also, left tackle Jake Matthews was called for a holding penalty that negated a big gain. Last week's mistakes aside, the Falcons' line remains one of the best in football and the reason is because of the interior. Center Alex Mack is a stud and right guard Wes Schweitzer has been quietly playing at a very high level. The Falcons' offensive line have a favorable matchup this week at New England.
SF + 15
DALLAS @ SAN FRANCISCO - Sunday 4:05 PM ET
BIT: This game actually favors the offensive line from both perspectives. Dallas offensive line is plus 22 and San Francisco's is plus 15. We've spoken at length in past articles about the Cowboys line (the only real situation to watch is at left guard, where Chaz Green and Jonathan Cooper continue to trade off). So, what about the Niners' line? As a group they have improved, especially in pass protection, where tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown are two of the best pass blockers in football. The interior of the unit has been spotty since guard Josh Garnett went to IR. Daniel Kilgore especially has had lapses at center. But overall the 49ers offensive line are an underrated unit and could find success this weekend against a depleted Cowboys defensive front.
DEFENSIVE FRONT MATCHUPS TO TRUST
SEATTLE @ NEW YORK - Sunday 4:25 PM ET
BIT: The Giants' offensive line had a bounce-back effort in last week's win at Denver. The addition of D.J. Fluker to the lineup at right guard has created a push in the run game. Fluker is good at trap blocking, he and the new right tackle Justin Pugh (Bobby Hart appears to have been benched) are a power running duo. John Jerry looks better at left guard than he did at right but center remains a concern with Weston Richburg still in the concussion protocol and Brett Jones going in his stead. Overall this Giants' line is trending in the right direction but they still grade out as one of the worst in the league. Perhaps they aren't this bad and they just needed a new playcaller and a new right guard. This week against Seattle's top ranked defensive front should be very informative in evaluating this unit.
CINCINNATI VS PITTSBURGH - Sunday 4:05 PM ET
JM: The Steelers have made 56 stops at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield this season. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt (eight tackles), defensive end Cameron Heyward (eight tackles), defensive end Stephon Tuitt (six tackles) and outside linebacker Bud Dupree (five tackles) are the main perps up front. When your two defensive ends and two outside linebackers, who were all picked in the first two rounds and are 28 years old or younger, are all having career years... you're in a good spot. These disrupting players are why Pittsburgh beat Kansas City last week. In Week 6 alone, the team had eight tackles at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield against the Chiefs, including three sacks.
BIT: The Bengals are the only offensive line with a three man rotation at tackle: veteran Andre Smith plays both right and left side and the majority of the snaps. The youth players in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher take the rest of the reps. The rotation has improved the play of the line in recent weeks but as the coaches have noted, it's far from a perfect solution. T.J. Johnson had been taking guard reps while Trey Hopkins recovered, and the team expects Hopkins to start coming off the bye week. Even with Hopkins in the lineup, the Bengals' line is among the weaker in the league and they should have a tough matchup at Pittsburgh.
OFFENSIVE LINE MATCHUPS
|Atlanta||offensive line||3||@||New England||defensive front||31||OL||ATL +28|
|Cleveland||offensive line||2||vs||Tennessee||defensive front||29||OL||CLE +27|
|Dallas||offensive line||1||@||San Francisco||defensive front||23||OL||DAL +22|
|Los Angeles (N)||offensive line||11||vs||Arizona||defensive front||27||OL||LAR +16|
|San Francisco||offensive line||13||vs||Dallas||defensive front||28||OL||SF +15|
|Philadelphia||offensive line||6||vs||Washington||defensive front||21||OL||PHI +15|
|Chicago||offensive line||7||vs||Carolina||defensive front||16||OL||CHI +9|
|Tennessee||offensive line||8||@||Cleveland||defensive front||15||OL||TEN +7|
|New Orleans||offensive line||9||@||Green Bay||defensive front||14||OL||NO +5|
|Oakland||offensive line||4||vs||Kansas City||defensive front||6||OL||OAK +2|
|Pittsburgh||offensive line||10||vs||Cincinnati||defensive front||11||OL||PIT +1|
|Carolina||offensive line||19||@||Chicago||defensive front||18||OL||CHI +1|
|Miami||offensive line||31||vs||New York (A)||defensive front||30||OL||NYJ +1||MIA +13 if Pouncey plays.|
DEFENSIVE LINE MATCHUPS
|Seattle||defensive front||3||@||New York (N)||offensive line||31||DEF||SEA +28|
|Pittsburgh||defensive front||1||vs||Cincinnati||offensive line||27||DEF||PIT +26|
|Minnesota||defensive front||10||vs||Baltimore||offensive line||28||DEF||MIN +18|
|Denver||defensive front||8||@||Los Angeles (A)||offensive line||23||DEF||DEN +15|
|Buffalo||defensive front||2||@||Tampa Bay||offensive line||16||DEF||BUF +14|
|Jacksonville||defensive front||4||@||Indianapolis||offensive line||17||DEF||JAX +13|
|New York (N)||defensive front||19||vs||Seattle||offensive line||32||DEF||NYG +13|
|Los Angeles (A)||defensive front||9||vs||Denver||offensive line||21||DEF||LAC +12|
|Miami||defensive front||13||vs||New York (A)||offensive line||22||DEF||MIA +9|
|Los Angeles (N)||defensive front||7||vs||Arizona||offensive line||15||DEF||LAR +7|
|Tampa Bay||defensive front||20||vs||Buffalo||offensive line||26||DEF||TB +6|
|New Orleans||defensive front||26||@||Green Bay||offensive line||30||DEF||NO +4|
|Oakland||defensive front||22||vs||Kansas City||offensive line||24||DEF||OAK +2|
|Baltimore||defensive front||17||@||Minnesota||offensive line||18||DEF||BAL +1||MIN +5 if Easton plays.|
|Philadelphia||defensive front||5||vs||Washington||offensive line||5||EVEN||EVEN|
|Atlanta||defensive front||12||@||New England||offensive line||12||EVEN||EVEN|
|Indianapolis||defensive front||25||vs||Jacksonville||offensive line||25||EVEN||EVEN||IND +6 if Linder misses.|
FULL DEFENSIVE FRONT MATCHUPS
|7||Los Angeles (N)|
|9||Los Angeles (A)|
|19||New York (N)||Olivier Vernon.|
|23||San Francisco||Erik Armstead|
|30||New York (A)|
Looking for the Offensive Line Rankings? Click Here: Week 7 Offensive Line news and full rankings
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