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
San Francisco @ Chicago - Sunday 1 PM ET
JM: The Chicago Bears were in an interesting spot to enter the season. Their pass-rusher 3-4 defensive end Cornelius Washington left for the Detroit Lions during free agency, but a trio of pass-rushers in Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee and Willie Young showed promise. At the moment, both Floyd and Young are on the injured reserve list. 2015 second-round pick Eddie Goldman has been a solid nose tackle coming off of a injury season in 2016, but he's not going to be mistaken for Linval Joseph anytime soon. 2016 third-round pick Jonathan Bullard has been functional, but not a difference-maker. At the moment, it's Akiem Hicks, McPhee and "other" in the box for Chicago.
BIT: This ranking is based on the assumption that right tackle Trent Brown will be ready for the game this weekend. Brown was late scratch for last week's game. When healthy Brown is one of the largest and best pass protecting right tackles in the sport. Brown has been dealing with a shoulder injury and was fitted for a harness. Brown was officially listed as limited at Wednesday and Thursday's practices. The placement of last week's rookie spot starter Erik Magnussen on injured reserve without signing a lineman to replace bodes well for Brown's availability. Look for the power running attack of the 49ers to get on track this week at Chicago.
Tennessee vs. Houston - Sunday 1 PM ET
BIT: Left tackle Taylor Lewan will have his hands full against defensive end Jadaveon Clowney this week. Clowney has been red hot of late but Lewan is no slouch. Lewan is a former top-ten pick from Michigan who wears the team captain's patch. That should be a fun matchup to watch on third and long. But Tennesee will hope to stay out of those situations by keeping their offense "on schedule." This week the Titans' offensive line should find running room at the line of scrimmage against an undermanned Texans' defensive front.
Defensive Fronts to Trust
Denver @ Miami - Sunday 1 PM ET
JM: At the start of the season, the Denver Broncos were able to open up with back-to-back wins in elevation. Since their Week 2 home win, they've only won a single game. They are not a good team, but it's not because of their defensive front. Von Miller is still an All-World pass-rusher. Shane Ray returning from injury was a major shift. Shaquil Barrett is one of the most underrated outside linebackers in the sport. Derek Wolfe is great and Domata Peko Sr might have had the best game of his career against the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago. Young draft picks like 2017 second-rounder DeMarcus Walker and 2016 second-rounder Adam Gotsis look to takeover the line in the near future, along with the gem find of Shelby Harris. You're going to hear about these guys for a while, not matter how bad John Elway's quarterback decisions are.
BIT: The Miami offensive line is in rough shape, down at least three starters for their home clash against Denver. Only left tackle Laremy Tunsil and center Mike Pouncey remain from the ideal lineup at the start of the season. Right tackle Ju'Wuan James was placed on injured reserve three weeks ago, leaving journeyman Sam Young to start. Young has size and experience but lacks anchor and can be pushed around and out leveraged. Von Miller is his assignment this weekend. Jesse Davis, a converted defensive lineman, will likely start for Jermon Bushrod at right guard. Davis has youth and upside but is still very raw. Ted Larsen has been overmatched at left guard for Anthony Steen. Tunsil and Pouncey are good players but the Denver defensive front should be able to feast.
Los Angeles (A) vs. Cleveland - Sunday 1 PM ET
JM: There are only two teams who have two pass-rushers who have more than eight sacks this season: the Jacksonville Jaguars (Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue) and the Los Angeles Chargers (Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III.) Those two defensive ends not only try to mask for the linebacker-level talent that the Chargers have, but they also have contributed in the explosion of cornerback Casey Hayward over the last two seasons. Chris McCain, the team's third defensive end, may be the mold for 240-pound pass-rushers in a 4-3 defense moving forward. While he's not a star, he's a unique, successful player with a body that is being produced often at the college level. He may be one of the stepping stones to the "tweener" defensive end movement.
BIT: Left tackle Joe Thomas went on injured reserve about a month ago, ripping the heart out of this offensive line. Spencer Drango has been seeing out the string at for the winless Browns. Drango might be a decent option at guard or as a spot swing tackle but he is clearly out of his depth at left tackle. Drango has been exposed over the last two weeks against Jacksonville (3 sacks) and Cincinnati (2 sacks). On the right side, Shon Coleman had a fine start to the year but recently has been victimized by both pass rushers and penalty flags. In defense of the Browns' line, their youthful quarterback is holding the ball and breaking the pocket. The line has a decent interior players but both tackles have become a huge issue. The matchup is terrible this week for the Browns as Melvin Ingram III has been in beast mode form while Joey Bosa makes an always welcome return trip to Ohio, the state where he played his college ball.
Offensive Line Matchups
|San Francisco||offensive line||7||@||Chicago||defensive front||30||OL||SF +23||Assuming RT Brown plays.|
|Tennessee||offensive line||5||vs||Houston||defensive front||27||OL||TEN +22|
|Washington||offensive line||4||@||Dallas||defensive front||22||OL||WAS +18|
|Los Angeles (N)||offensive line||9||@||Arizona||defensive front||26||OL||LAR +17|
|Baltimore||offensive line||16||vs||Detroit||defensive front||32||OL||BAL +16|
|Dallas||offensive line||1||vs||Washington||defensive front||15||OL||DAL +14|
|Buffalo||offensive line||17||vs||New England||defensive front||31||OL||BUF +14|
|Carolina||offensive line||11||@||New Orleans||defensive front||25||OL||CAR +14|
|Oakland||offensive line||3||vs||New York (N)||defensive front||12||OL||OAK +9|
|Atlanta||offensive line||2||vs||Minnesota||defensive front||8||OL||ATL +6|
|Jacksonville||offensive line||19||vs||Indianapolis||defensive front||24||OL||JAX +5|
|Green Bay||offensive line||24||vs||Tampa Bay||defensive front||29||OL||GB +5|
|Chicago||offensive line||13||vs||San Francisco||defensive front||17||OL||CHI +4|
|Pittsburgh||offensive line||6||@||Cincinnati||defensive front||9||OL||PIT +3|
|Minnesota||offensive line||8||@||Atlanta||defensive front||10||OL||MIN +2|
|New England||offensive line||21||@||Buffalo||defensive front||23||OL||NE +2|
Defensive Front Matchups
|Jacksonville||defensive front||1||vs||Indianapolis||offensive line||29||DEF||JAX +28|
|Denver||defensive front||5||@||Miami||offensive line||30||DEF||DEN +25|
|Pittsburgh||defensive front||2||@||Cincinnati||offensive line||27||DEF||PIT +25|
|Los Angeles (A)||defensive front||6||vs||Cleveland||offensive line||28||DEF||LAC +22|
|Oakland||defensive front||18||vs||New York (N)||offensive line||32||DEF||OAK +14|
|New York (A)||defensive front||13||vs||Kansas City||offensive line||22||DEF||NYJ +9|
|Seattle||defensive front||3||vs||Philadelphia||offensive line||12||DEF||SEA +9|
|Carolina||defensive front||7||@||New Orleans||offensive line||15||DEF||CAR +8|
|Kansas City||defensive front||16||@||New York (A)||offensive line||23||DEF||KC +7|
|Miami||defensive front||19||vs||Denver||offensive line||25||DEF||MIA +6|
|Philadelphia||defensive front||4||@||Seattle||offensive line||10||DEF||PHI +6|
|Green Bay||defensive front||21||vs||Tampa Bay||offensive line||26||DEF||GB +5|
|Los Angeles (N)||defensive front||14||@||Arizona||offensive line||18||DEF||LAR +4|
|Baltimore||defensive front||11||vs||Detroit||offensive line||14||DEF||BAL +3|
|Tennessee||defensive front||28||vs||Houston||offensive line||31||DEF||TEN +3|
|Cleveland||defensive front||20||@||Los Angeles (A)||offensive line||20||EVEN||EVEN|
Full Defensive Front Rankings
|6||Los Angeles (A)|
|12||New York (N)|
|13||New York (A)|
|14||Los Angeles (N)|
Looking for the Offensive Line Rankings? Click Here: Week 13 Offensive Line news and full rankings
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