One of the conference's top safeties resides in New England. In his third season, Patrick Chung has shown an ability to make plays, proving that he's worth the second-round selection the Patriots used on him in 2009. He could have a few Pro Bowls on the horizon. This year, through six games, his 37 total tackles ranks second on the team behind Devin McCourty's 38.
In order to claim the league's top honor, though, he'll have to be compared to the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year. A six-time Pro Bowler, Troy Polamalu has become one of the league's most dominant defensive playmakers. He ranked second in the NFL in interceptions in 2008 and 2010 while helping to lead one of the game's most vaunted defenses in Pittsburgh.
The Ravens' Ed Reed, meanwhile, is a ball hawk. He's led the league in interceptions three times, including last season when he had eight. Named the Defensive Player of the Year back in 2004, Reed has seven Pro Bowl selections to his credit.
Brian Dawkins spent 13 seasons in the NFC with Philadelphia before arriving in Denver prior to the 2009 season. All he's done in his career is earn eight Pro Bowl selections and First Team All-Pro honors on four separate occasions.
Outside of this foursome, though, the AFC has two other safeties who've made names for themselves recently.
The Colts' Antoine Bethea has earned two Pro Bowl selections in five seasons entering this season. He's become the leader of the Indianapolis defense and, at only 27 years old, he's just now entering his prime.
Then, there's Danieal Manning of the Texans. He arrived in Houston this past offseason after five seasons with the Bears and has made an immediate impact on the team's defense.