This is a follow-up article to my previous articles called “Super Bowl LI Analysis (A look at the team’s QBs, RBs, and WRs) and “Super Bowl LI Analysis (A look at the team’s TEs and OL). I suggest you all take a peak at those articles either before or after you read this article. Super Bowl 51 is near, so today I will be going over both team’s defensive lines. The Patriots defensive line has been mediocre all year, while the Falcon’s defensive line has been subpar at best, but they have had moments in which they have stepped up to the challenge.
The Patriots defensive line has been a steady group; the team ranked 11th in run defense this year. The problem with this defensive line is that they struggled to get to the quarterback, ranking 26th in the league. This team runs a 4-3 defense, which means they use four defensive linemen and only three linebackers. The New England Patriots are expected to start Chris Long and Trey Flowers next Sunday against the Falcons. Chris Long was signed by the Patriots this offseason, and I imagine he has never looked back. Long is enjoying one of the best years of his career, and he recently said in an interview it is a conversation with his father that convinced him to come to Boston. Chris Long also said that he nearly joined the Detroit Lions, which we can infer that he would not be in the same position that he is now if he had done so. This is Chris Long’s first year not a member of the St. Louis Rams (Now Los Angeles Rams), but I do not think he regrets his decision one bit. Trey Flowers, who is expected to start in the Super Bowl for the Patriots, was a 4th round draft pick back in 2015. Flowers has exceeded expectations and has become a productive role player for a mediocre defensive line. Flowers might not be the best defensive end in the league, but he gets the job done. The two starting defensive tackles for the Patriots are expected to be Malcom Brown and Alan Branch. Brown was drafted with the 32nd overall pick in the 2015 draft, the same year that the Pats won it all. Brown has lived up to expectations, and now the former Texas Longhorn has a chance to play in a Super Bowl! Alan Branch is in his third season with the New England Patriots, playing in all 16 games of the regular season for his second consecutive year. Branch had 49 total tackles this past year, which isn’t too shabby, but it’s something. Branch, in his 10th season, will be competing for his second Super Bowl in 3 years; he was a member of the Super Bowl winning Patriots team back in 2015.
The Falcon’s defensive line has been sub par all year long, but it has its bright spots. The Falcons, like the Patriots, play a 4-3 defense. The expected starting defensive ends for the Falcons are Brooks Reed and Tyson Jackson. Both Reed and Jackson are subpar defensive ends compared to others at their positions, but Brooks Reed is a really streaky defensive end and has been able to come up big in big games. The ex-Arizona Wildcat Brooks Reed will be participating his first Super Bowl in his 6th season. On the inside of the defensive line, the Falcons have two solid starters in Grady Jarrett and Jonathan Babineaux. Grady Jarrett has always been an underrated player without an opportunity, but this year the Falcon’s gave him the greatest opportunity of his career; a full-time starting job. Jarrett has rewarded the team for their trust in him by having a great season. Babineaux, who is playing worse due to his age, is one of the leaders of the Falcons; he’s played for the Falcons for 11 straight seasons. This Falcons defensive line ranked 25th in run defense and 24th in pass rush. We as fans can expect the Falcon’s defensive line to perform worse than the Patriot’s defensive line, but in big games like this, you never know!