NFL Network analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara selects offensive line units to watch heading into the week, breaking down what's on the line for each group, potential matchups and other significant factors. Following each week's games, O'Hara will select a Built Ford Tough Offensive Line of the Week.
The Seahawks return to MetLife Stadium for the first time since Super Bowl XLVIII, but with an offensive line that looks very different -- in fact, not one of this year's starting O-linemen was on the roster in 2013. The unit has been a work in progress this season. It's not a good sign when Russell Wilson sustains two injuries in the first month of regular-season play. Coach Pete Carroll is confident Wilson will play this weekend, but the O-line must perform much better if it wants to keep its quarterback on the field.
Against the Jets, who will play angry after last week's embarrassing loss to Kansas City, the Seahawks' offense needs to get back to running the ball -- as Seattle did more than 50 percent of the time en route to the Super Bowl in 2013 and '14. Third-and-long situations are not what you want against the Jets' front. The Seahawks will have their hands full with Muhammad Wilkerson. A key matchup to watch is Seattle left tackle Bradley Sowell vs. Sheldon Richardson.
When the schedule came out in April, I would have guessed the Raiders, not Ravens, would be the 3-0 team heading into this Week 4 matchup. And while the Ravens' D is playing well, the offensive line has been consistent. Rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley has only given up once sack and one quarterback hit through three games. He'll face a challenge in Raiders All-Pro Khalil Mack, who is still looking for his first sack of the season. Another matchup to watch is perennial Pro-Bowler Marshal Yanda vs. Stacy McGee. Yanda continues to play at an elite level for Baltimore and hasn't given up a sack or QB hit this year, while the Raiders' tackle (6-foot-3, 310 pounds) is very consistent and was one of the highest-rated defensive linemen in Week 2.
The Falcons (2-1) are flying high after their Monday night beatdown of the Saints, which has them atop the NFC South. Atlanta punished the Saints with more than 200 yards on the ground. The Falcons host a much tougher defensive front this week. Carolina defensive tackles Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei represent very tough matchups for undersized guards Andy Levitre (6-2, 303) and Chris Chester (6-3, 303 pounds).
Left tackle Jake Matthews has been exceptional two weeks in a row, and I look for him to continue to be a solid component for the unit. But Matthews will be challenged against a Carolina defense that employs mug linebackers in the A-gap more than any other NFL team. This approach takes any kind of running back chip out of the equation, so there won't be much receiving help from Atlanta's RBs this week.
The Cardinals are behind the eight ball early in the NFC West. Arizona's offense is far from being the second-ranked scoring group and top overall unit we saw in 2015. The Cardinals' O-line will go against an up-and-down Rams' defensive front. Cardinals right guard Evan Mathis missed last week's game due to a foot injury. If he can't go, Earl Watford, who struggled last week in Buffalo, will again take his place as starter. He will face Aaron Donald, who is still searching for his first sack but has seven QB hits and three tackles for loss.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Denver's opponent always faces a tough task, as the defense leads the NFL with 24 quarterback hits. Unfortunately for the Bucs, who have allowed Jameis Winston to be hit 20 times this season (third-most in the league), they're hosting the defending Super Bowl champs. Winston has been pressured a lot this season, and consequently, he's thrown six interceptions (tied for second-most in the NFL).
Others to keep an eye on:
» New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings(at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday): The Vikings' O-line has been shaky this season. Last week against the Panthers, T.J. Clemmings started at left tackle in place of the injured Matt Kalil (hip), and Alex Boone was carted off the field in the first half with a hip injury. Jeremiah Sirles came in for Boone at left guard, and he could make his first Vikings start against the Giants if Boone can't go.
While the Giants have graded out as one of the better offensive lines this season, they will have their hands full against a Vikings defense that sacked reigning MVP Cam Newton eight times last week. The matchup to watch in this game: Giants left tackle Ereck Flowers vs. Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen.