Earlier this week, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera noted the comparisons and unsung importance between his team's offensive line and that of the 1985 Bears.
The Super Bowl XX champs had two first-round picks as bookends (Jimbo Covert and Keith Van Horne), a fourth-rounder and an eighth-round selection at guard (Tom Thayer and converted defensive lineman Mark Bortz) and the undrafted Jay Hilgenberg at center.
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The Panthers' offensive line has been incredibly good as well, considering where some of its members have come from. After winning a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, former first-rounder Michael "Blind Side" Oher had such a miserable 2014 in Tennessee that the Titans simply cut him in 2015. He was there for anyone's taking until signing a two-year, $7 million deal with the Panthers. Left guard Andrew Norwell was an undrafted free agent from Ohio State. Center Ryan Kalil was a second-round pick in 2007 and right guard Trai Turner was selected in the third round in 2014. Right tackle Mike Remmers went undrafted in 2012, is on his fifth team since, but has been starting since late last season.
The credit goes to Panthers' offensive line coach John Matsko for piecing the unit together, leading the NFL's No. 2 rushing offense. He's assisted by Ray Brown, just an eighth-round pick himself, whose 20-year playing career included a Super Bowl title with the Washington Redskins.
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Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, and his talented group found a way to pressure and exploit Tom Brady and the New England Patriots' offensive line in the AFC Championship. But Cam Newton won't quite be the sitting duck Brady was (which certainly helps that Carolina offensive line), so one of the fun things to watch in Super Bowl 50 will be whether Phillips can dial up enough pressure and confusion, as many expect the Panthers defense to do against a virtually immobile Peyton Manning, who'll need to get rid of the ball quickly.