Kurt Coleman has been stellar this season for the Carolina Panthers. He finished the regular season tied for the second most interceptions in the NFL with 7. He led the Panthers in that category and he was also the third leading tackler on the team behind only Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. He started his career in Philadelphia where he played for four years before playing for the Chiefs last season. He signed with the Panthers this offseason and has easily been one of the best free agent signings this season. He isn’t really a household name but he has been Johnny on the spot for the Panthers defense all year whether it’s making a timely tackle or coming up with an interception.
Kawann Short is probably the most underrated defensive tackle in the NFL. He has a relentless motor and is constantly wrecking games. He doesn’t get the same name recognition as Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Josh Norman but he’s one of the most important pieces of that defense. He led the Panthers with 11 sacks and according to Pro Football Focus, Short finished third among interior defenders with 46 quarterback hurries during the regular season. He is also extremely stout against getting off blocks and constantly making plays in the backfield. Expect to hear his name called a lot on Super Bowl Sunday.
Michael Oher has enjoyed flying under the radar for the Carolina Panthers after the way things ended in Baltimore and Tennessee. Oher is more known for the movie Blindside in which his life was the subject of. He enjoyed success his first few seasons, even earning a Super Bowl as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. After his rookie deal expired, he signed a big free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans in 2014. He struggled mightily earning the distinction as being one of the worst tackles in the NFL. In the offseason he signed with Carolina after he was cut one year into his deal with the Titans. He started the season as Cam Newton’s blindside protector and has played well keeping his name in anonymity. He will need to play well as he faces a tall task on Sunday with DeMarcus Ware and the revolving door of Denver pass rushers.
Danny Trevathan is another guy who isn’t a household name but he makes tons of plays for the #1 ranked Denver defense. In the regular season, he led the Broncos with 109 total tackles and also recorded two interceptions. Trevathan is all over the field against the run and he plays well in coverage. He is a sure tackler underneath and limits a lot of opposing playmakers YAC opportunities. He will be a key figure in Denver’s effort to stop the unique playing style of Cam Newton and the Panthers offense. He will have to be quick in reads and not be fooled by all the misdirection. He will also have the task of helping cover the middle of the field because Greg Olsen can make a defense look bad. If the Broncos are going to stop Cam, he will need to be at his very best as well as the rest of the defense.
If you watched the AFC Championship last week, you definitely heard the name Darian Stewart last week. Like his other running mate at safety, TJ Ward, he plays a physical brand of football. He flies around the field and looks to hit anything moving. He is also very good on the back end as a final line of defense. He does a great job of patrolling the field and making receivers this twice before running a route in his area. He was third on the team in tackles with 63 combined and also contributed 11 pass deflections. He suffered a knee injury late in the AFC Championship, which sidelined him for the rest of the game, but he is expected to play in the Super Bowl and the Broncos defense is that much better when he’s on the field.