Edge of Glory: Super Bowl XLIX Preview: Linemen

Welcome back to Graz’s positional breakdown of the Superbowl.  This post is for the unsung heroes of the NFL the Offensive linemen.  Plus we will throw in the D line as well so we can keep you guys interested.  This time we are going to start with the Patriots because I said so. Follow us after the jump to find out about arguably the most important battle in the Super Bowl matchup

Patriots:  We will start with the Patriots Offensive line.  This group lost their starting center in the first playoff game but they have not let that slow them down.  They keep clicking on all cylinders and continue to play extremely well.  They pushed the Colts around to pile up 177 yards rushing and have only allowed three sacks in the post season.  As Giants fans would know the way you beat Brady is pressure from the front four pass rush.  You need to pressure him and make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket.  This offensive line has not let that happen and will limit the pass rush of the Seahawks. They gave up the fourth least sacks throughout the season and will continue to have success this year.  Watch out for Josh Kline who can play all five line positions.  Stepping in after the injury to Bryan Stork, the Patriots starting center, Kline has played extremely well and continues to keep Brady on his feet.
           Bobby Kraft’s Bunch has a decent Defensive line as well.  Coming off an injury last season Vince Wilfork has had a solid year.  His ability to eat up double teams is tremendous.  Furthermore, he has surprising athleticism and a knack for getting interceptions, which makes him a player to watch in the Superbowl.  The two players on the end however, need to step up and have an impact on this game.  Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are two players that had decent seasons that need to have a big super Sunday.  They need to be able to contain Russel Wilson within the pocket and do not let him scramble to the outside.  They have the athleticism to run with Wilson and keep him inside but they need to maintain their lanes and keep contain.  They both will have an impact on this game whether it be a big sack or being yelled at for letting Wilson scramble for 14 yards on a 3rd and 8.

Seahawks: The offensive line of Seattle is a tough gritty group that loves to run block.  But who wouldn’t want to run block for a man with the nickname beastmode.  The line is anchored by two great blockers in Max Unger and J.R. Sweezy, who love to run over their opponents.  This team led the league in rushing which is a testament to quality run blocking up front as well as quality run design.  They love the read option which allows their athletic linemen to get up field and block linebackers and safeties.  They can open up major holes in this Pats defense.  They do struggle with pass protection though.  They gave up 42 sacks on Russell Wilson and he seems like he is always scrambling.  They need to give Russell time in the pocket in order to throw the ball down the field.  He will scramble and make plays though which is good because it saves the offensive line from embarrassing sacks.
            On the defensive side of the ball, the Seahawks defensive line can cause havoc of the edge.  They have two edge pass rushers that can create issues and turnovers off the edge.  Both Michael Bennett and and Chris Avril have had good years for the Seahawks.  They need both of these players to get to Brady and force him to throw the ball before he would want to.  The Seahawks blitz less then any other team in the league. This means that it is extremely important for them to get pressure on Brady because they will not have help from their linebackers.  That is the way a team beats Tom Brady is by winning the defensive line match up. If they can get edge pressure they will win.

Edge:  I am giving a slight edge to the Birds from the north.  Their line has just been a bit more consistent all year long.  But do not sleep on the Pats line because they have come on strong as of late!   

Next: I will be tackling the linebackers on each team.  You see what I did there…tackling.  I know you guys read this just for the humor.  

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