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 LINEs TO TRUST
NO + 22
New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay - Sunday 1 PM ET
JM: Tampa Bay has struggled all season to make plays in the backfield. In terms of their sack value, they're by far the worst in the league this year. While defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is still playing up to his talent, his teammate (and 2017 free agency signing) Chris Baker has complained about playing time on the lowly front. The team also recently lost second-year second-round pick Noah Spence to IR due to a shoulder injury. Between not playing Baker, losing Spence and paying Robert Ayers and William Gholston, two players who have never put up big sack numbers, the Buccaneers have shot themselves in the foot this season.
BIT: Even without right guard Larry Warford in the lineup, the Saints' line has found it's form in recent weeks. Utility player Senio Kelemete has been subbing for Warford, who is week to week with an abdominal injury. In place of Zach Strief, rookie right tackle Ryan Ramzyck has been competent (a bonus for any rookie lineman). Assuming that left tackle Terron Armstead and left guard Andrus Peat suit up this weekend (they were not at Wednesday's practice) the Saints line should be good to go against a Tampa Bay defensive front that is reeling.
BUF + 21
Buffalo @ New York (A) - Thursday 8:30 PM ET
JM: Defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has, for the year, been having the worst season of his career to date. With that being said, Wilkerson posted three of his five tackles at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield this season against the Atlanta Falcons last weekend, so the arrow is pointing up on a high-upside player. Keep that in mind moving forward, but the line of scrimmage defenders in New York are still performing at a below-average level for NFL players. There's a reason why Darron Lee is getting the opportunities to make as many run stuffs as he is this year.
BIT: The Bills' offensive line has been much improved since left tackle Cordy Glenn returned to health two weeks ago. Glenn sent rookie Dion Dawkins (who was often outmatched in pass protection) to the bench after Glenn's foot injury healed. Glenn and left guard Ritchie Incognito are tough to defend against in the power running game. On the right side, Vlad Ducasse has been rugged at right guard after John Miller was benched. Ducasse is a powerful player who moves the pile. The Bills' offensive line are not dominant pass protectors but quarterback Tyrod Taylor's mobility often bails them out of bad situations.
DEFENSIVE FRONTS TO TRUST
Seattle vs. Washington - Sunday 4:05 PM ET
JM: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson still can't find his groove. Last year, he had 26.5 tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. Before this season, he had only recorded fewer than 20 of those tackles in one season (2015, 13.5 tackles.) In a half-season with the Seattle Seahawks, in a contract year, he's only recorded 3.5. Still, against the Houston Texans last week, the Seahawks were able to record 11 tackles for 0 yards or fewer, including five sacks. At the end of the game, they thought enough of Texans left tackle Duane Brown to trade for the bookend. While Richardson may be playing below the bar that was set for him, the Seahawks as a whole are still one of the more talented penetration teams in the NFL.
BIT: The Washington offensive line has only one starter that is a sure thing to play this weekend, right tackle Morgan Moses. The rest of the line is in complete disarray. The week 9 offensive line article (see link below) has a detailed explanation of the musical chair shuffle that occurred last week with all the injuries. Most notably, left tackle Trent Williams is dealing with an injury that requires season ending surgery (but he is trying to play through it as long as possible). The team signed Orlando Franklin to help but due to the rash of recent injuries, the Washington line currently grades out as the worst in the league.
JAX + 28
Jacksonville vs. Cincinnati - Sunday 1 PM ET
JM: The rich get richer. Calais Campbell, a 2017 free agency signing, looks like the second coming of Reggie White. Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue, two top-100 pass-rushers on rookie contracts, are one of the more productive young pass-rushing duos in the league. Malik Jackson, playing on an $85 million contract, is a forgotten man on this deep defensive line. On top of that, the team just made a high-risk, high-reward move by trading for former third overall pick Marcell Dareus' contract at the deadline. Here are Dareus' tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage by year:
Buffalo had to eat a lot of dead money so Jacksonville could take a two-year risk on Dareus, all for a sixth-round pick. No one knows if this will work out for the Jaguars, but it's certainly something interesting enough to monitor.
BIT: The Bengals' offensive line continues to have trouble. The team drafted two tackles in 2015 with the hope that either Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher would be ready to step up this year, which is when they were scheduled to lose Andrew Whitworth to free agency. Needless to say, that hasn't happened and Andre Smith is rotating in for reps at both spots. Quarterback Andy Dalton is taking a ton of hits, and he's being sacked at a rate of about one out of every ten times he drops back to pass. That is the worst rate in the league, by far. The offense is on pace to allow over fifty sacks on the year total, which is as bad as it sounds. The Bengals' offensive line should have their hands full this weekend with "Sacksonville" coming to town.
PHI + 23
Philadelphia vs. Denver Sunday 1 PM ET
JM: We've seen the Philadelphia Eagles' defensive line flash is spurts. We've seen Brandon Graham have a stretch to start the season that made us think that his talent would actually reflect in the sack column. We've seen Timmy Jernigan hold the interior line together when Fletcher Cox was out of the lineup. We've seen Cox immediately eat the $45 million Trai Turner when he returned to the lineup. Now we've even seen rookie first-round pick, Derek Barnett, turn into a problem for kicking teams. On top of all of that, Vinny Curry is having the best season of his career. There are just so many options for Philadelphia that it's almost assured that one of their linemen are going to take over an individual game. Don't let anyone trick you, the team's defensive line is just as much of a reason for why the Eagles have the best record in football as Carson Wentz is this year.
BIT: The Broncos' offensive line is having a rough year. Right tackle Menelik Watson has missed time with an injury and last week against Kansas City he was repeatedly owned by Justin Houston. Left tackle Garret Bolles has been up and down which is normal for a rookie: he was bad two weeks ago but had a bounce-back effort last week. Guard Ron Leary, who has been the most reliable lineman this season, is playing through a biceps injury. The team will have a new quarterback to protect this week when the Eagles' fearsome pass rush comes to town. Brock Osweiler will hope to succeed where Trevor Siemian failed. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Osweiler is not an especially mobile quarterback and the Broncos' line is not a great pass blocking unit.
OFFENSIVE LINE MATCHUPS
|New Orleans||offensive line||10||vs||Tampa Bay||defensive front||32||OL||NO +22|
|Buffalo||offensive line||6||@||New York (A)||defensive front||27||OL||BUF +21|
|Green Bay||offensive line||12||vs||Detroit||defensive front||31||OL||GB +19|
|Tampa Bay||offensive line||15||@||New Orleans||defensive front||26||OL||TB +11|
|Oakland||offensive line||3||@||Miami||defensive front||14||OL||OAK +11|
|Baltimore||offensive line||19||@||Tennessee||defensive front||29||OL||BAL +10|
|Atlanta||offensive line||2||@||Carolina||defensive front||10||OL||ATL +8|
|Los Angeles (N)||offensive line||8||@||New York (N)||defensive front||16||OL||LAR +8|
|Seattle||offensive line||11||vs||Washington||defensive front||19||OL||SEA +8|
|Arizona||offensive line||13||@||San Francisco||defensive front||20||OL||SF +7|
|Kansas City||offensive line||17||@||Dallas||defensive front||23||OL||DAL +6|
|Miami||offensive line||16||vs||Oakland||defensive front||21||OL||MIA +5|
|Dallas||offensive line||1||vs||Kansas City||defensive front||6||OL||DAL +5|
|Indianapolis||offensive line||24||@||Houston||defensive front||28||OL||IND +4|
|Jacksonville||offensive line||9||vs||Cincinnati||defensive front||13||OL||JAX +4|
|Tennessee||offensive line||5||vs||Baltimore||defensive front||7||OL||TEN +2|
|Houston||offensive line||23||vs||Indianapolis||defensive front||24||OL||HOU +1|
DEFENSIVE FRONT MATCHUPS
|Seattle||defensive front||2||vs||Washington||offensive line||31||DEF||SEA +29|
|Jacksonville||defensive front||1||vs||Cincinnati||offensive line||29||DEF||JAX +28|
|Philadelphia||defensive front||4||vs||Denver||offensive line||27||DEF||PHI +23|
|Buffalo||defensive front||8||@||New York (A)||offensive line||25||DEF||BUF +17|
|Denver||defensive front||5||@||Philadelphia||offensive line||21||DEF||DEN +16|
|Los Angeles (N)||defensive front||11||@||New York (N)||offensive line||26||DEF||LAR +15|
|Arizona||defensive front||25||@||San Francisco||offensive line||32||DEF||ARZ +7|
|Green Bay||defensive front||18||vs||Detroit||offensive line||20||DEF||DET +2|
|Atlanta||defensive front||17||@||Carolina||offensive line||18||DEF||CAR +1|
FULL DEFENSIVE FRONT RANKINGS
|1||Jacksonville||Traded for DT Marcel Dareus.|
|9||Los Angeles (A)|
|11||Los Angeles (N)|
|16||New York (N)|
|27||New York (A)|
Looking for the Offensive Line Rankings? Click Here: Week 9 Offensive Line news and full rankings
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