Chase Blackburn went from unemployed to starter in the middle for the Giants during the course of the season, and really steadied a unit that was hit hard by injuries through the first half of the schedule. Michael Boley is the veteran leader responsible for getting everyone in position, while Mathias Kiwanuka's strength lies with his pass-rushing ability.
The Patriots' improved defense during the postseason can be largely attributed to OLBs Mark Anderson and Rob Ninkovich, who move around and attack the edges on passing downs. Anderson has really stepped up his game since Andre Carter's season-ending injury. Jerod Mayo is a tackling machine in the middle and the heart of the unit, while Brandon Spikes came up with a huge interception against the Ravens.