NFL Playoff Predictions: Defensive Players Who Could Break Open the Super Bowl

Jacqueline KirbyContributor IIIJanuary 23, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JANUARY 22:  Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers is sacked by Justin Tuck #91 and Jason Pierre-Paul #90 of the New York Giants in the third quarter during the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park on January 22, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

What a day of football we were blessed with yesterday! The Patriots' defense came up big in the fourth quarter to hold off the Ravens, followed by multiple fumbles by the Niners to leave the Giants heading to the Super Bowl. 

Since Sunday was all about the defense, we're going to analyze which players are going to be dominant in the big game on February 5. 

Patriots Defense

Vince Wilfork was huge for New England on Sunday.  He had a solo sack and six tackles, three of which were for a loss.  The 6'2", 325-pound defensive tackle is known for his big plays and will certainly not disappoint during the Super Bowl.  

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said if Wilfork after the AFC Championship game, "Vince Wilfork is a man. The kind of leader he is, we're so lucky to have him on the team."  

Pats safety Patrick Chung has also returned back after a knee injury that had left him questionable for the AFC Championship.  Chung played through it and came out with two solo and three assisted tackles. 

Last but certainly far from the least for the Patriots? Linebacker Brandon Spikes.  During the Divisional playoff game against Denver he came up with six tackles and a sack. Then on Sunday against the Ravens he had nine tackles and a fourth quarter interception that helped New England win the game. Spikes' agility and mental capacity for the game will cause him to be one of the biggest playmakers in the Super Bowl.

Giants Defense

The G Men are going to have a little challenge taking on the Patriots in the Super Bowl, but they did it in 2008, so why not be able to get the job done again four years later?

Giants linebacker and Indianapolis native Mathias Kiwanuka will be a big factor.  On the year he had 84 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception.  During the NFC Championship game he had two tackles and .5 sacks but will make himself known during the Super Bowl.

Osi Umenyiora is another player who is vital for the Giants defense to run over Tom Brady.  He battled contract negotiations and injuries to get to a good place and really be a part of the team. Pair him with Justin Tuck and the Giants can be unstoppable, just as we saw in the games against the Packers and the 49ers.

Its going to be probably too close to call with this game, and could come down to a field goal, as many Patriots Super Bowl runs tend to do.  Regardless, it's going to be just as interesting to watch all of the guys on defense as it will be to see how Eli and Tom stack up against each other.