Super Bowl 2012: Ranking the 5 Best Defenders on Each Team

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Super Bowl 2012: Ranking the 5 Best Defenders on Each Team
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Eli Manning, Victor Cruz. All big names. All dynamic offensive players. All being talked about over and over heading to Super Bowl Sunday.

But if anyone remembers when these teams met in the big one in 2008, it was the defenses that determined the fate of the game. The Giants front seven put relentless pressure and Tom Brady ,and despite the highlight you've seen 100 of David Tyree, it was that front seven that really won the Giants the game. Despite the gaudy statistics being put up by elite QBs in the league right now, it is still widely accepted that defense wins championships.

Well, the story of these two defense couldn't be more different. New England's unit struggled to stop their opponents from racking up huge yardage all year. But they force timely turnovers and are great in the red zone. The Pats don't have a stingy defense. No one expect them to sack Eli Manning six times and hold the Giants to three points. A couple of timely big plays may be enough given what the offense can do.

The Giants D has battled inconsistency all year but is one a tear right now. That elite NY pass-rush we all saw in 2008 may even be better now when you factor in an aging Michael Strahan being replaced by young stud Jason Pierre-Paul.

Here are each teams top five defensive players to watch this Sunday.

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