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Tag:Alex Smith
Posted on: January 19, 2012 6:00 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 6:02 pm
 

Championship Game Matchups: Mankins vs. Ngata


Patriots guard Logan Mankins vs. Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata -- This is a battle of two perennial Pro Bowl players who haven't quite had the seasons that many expected. Even so, they're still good football players. Ngata has been blocked more this season than any other of his recent years. Mankins is a physical player who is among the NFL's best when he's at the top of his game. He has to move Ngata if the Patriots are to have any chance to run.

Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul vs. 49ers tackle Joe Staley -- It all starts for the Giants up front with Pierre-Paul. He is a physical freak who can influence the game with his pass rush. Staley is a solid player in pass protection, but the 49ers helped him a lot in the first game. I look for them to do the same here.

Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs vs. Patriots tackles Nate Solder and Matt Light -- Suggs is the best pass rusher for the Ravens, but he didn't get a sack last week against the Texans. Solder and Light shut out Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil last week. Suggs plays both sides on defense, so both players will have their chances against him. They can't allow him to get going. He tends to get sacks in bunches. 

Ravens center Matt Birk vs. Patriots defensive tackles Kyle Love and Vince Wilfork -- Birk isn't as powerful as he once was, so I would expect the Patriots to keep a player on his nose for most of the game. If they can control the middle, it will make it tough for Ray Rice to get going. In the 2009 game, Birk got a great block on Wilfork to spring Rice for an 83-yard touchdown run on the first play of the game.

Giants receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz vs. 49ers corners Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown -- Nicks and Cruz are a handful for whoever they face. Nicks is big and fast, while Cruz is small and quick. Rogers has had an outstanding season, one that will get him a fat contract as a free agent. Brown has been solid. The 49ers used a lot of zone in the first meeting, so it will be interesting to see if they change it up.

49ers tight end Vernon Davis vs. Giants safeties Kenny Phillips and Antrel Rolle -- Davis had 180 receiving yards last week against the Saints, including the game-winning score in the final seconds. The 49ers love to move him around a lot in their formations, lining him up both wide and in-line. That makes him a tough player to defend. He did catch a touchdown pass in the first game between the teams in Week 10, but the Giants did a pretty good job on him most of that game. I would expect the two safeties to spend a lot of time on him. There's also a chance dime safety Deon Grant could play him some.

49ers outside linebacker/defensive end Aldon Smith vs. Giants left tackle David Diehl -- There are some out there who think Diehl is horrible. He isn't. But he will have his hands full with Smith in passing situations. The rookie outside rusher from Missouri has become a real force off the edge. Diehl has to be able to hold up against him if Eli Manning is to have time to make big throws down the field.

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski vs. Ravens safety Ed Reed -- How do you stop Gronkowski? You don't. You just have to hope to contain him. I would imagine that Reed, one of the best safeties ever, would spend time on him. He can run with Gronkowski, but the tight end has a huge edge in terms of size. 

Patriots receiver Wes Welker vs. Ravens corners Lardarius Webb and Cary Williams -- Other than Gronkowski and fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez, Welker is the only other real receiving threat.  He does most of his damage in the middle of the field. It will be interesting to see if the Ravens play one of their starting corners on him. Webb has had a Pro Bowl-type of season and had two picks last week. Williams has been a pleasant surprise. Nickel corner Jimmy Smith will also be in the mix. He is a rookie.

49ers quarterback Alex Smith vs. himself -- This is the biggest game of his life. Smith played well last week against the Saints when given the chance to throw. Was it his coming-out game or an aberration? We'll know by Sunday night. He sure looks more comfortable in the pocket now than the Smith we saw the past couple of seasons.

Posted on: January 16, 2012 11:36 am
Edited on: January 16, 2012 11:49 am
 

Monday Musings: How do you slow Brady?

BALTIMORE -- How do you slow down Tom Brady?

I asked that question to Baltimore Ravens corner Lardarius Webb.

"You have to try and confuse him," Webb said.

Good luck with that. Brady, like the other top quarterbacks, has a way of knowing where he's going with the football before the snap. He's great at those pre-snap reads.

The Patriots don't really stretch the field all that much, but Brady excels at getting the ball to the receiver or tight end with the best match-up. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and receiver Wes Welker are all good at winning against man coverage.

"Tom is playing excellent up there, and what they did to the Broncos last night, I think they sent a message to whoever was coming up there," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. " So, we’ve got our hands full and we’ve got to go up and get ready to play in the AFC championship.”

You can't expect the Ravens to stop Brady. They can only hope to slow him down.

 Look, I've stated my opinion about Tim Tebow's ability to play NFL quarterback the right way. I didn't need his performance against the Patriots Saturday night to convince me that he's far from being able to lead a team from the pocket. The Broncos gimmicked up the offense for him to help offset his inability to throw from the pocket. Until he learns how to do that, and throw into tight windows, there will always be doubts. He didn't lose that game to the Patriots. Hell, John Elway in his prime wouldn't have won that for the Broncos. But expect Tebow to be pushed in training camp by somebody. Or the Broncos will be in a lot of trouble moving forward. 

 The NFL considering full-time officials makes no sense to me. What they need to do is add an extra official on the field. The game is too fast now to just have seven officials on the field. One more would help compensate for the speed of the game advancing to where it is now. Plus, more passing means that the officials have to expand their focus to a wider perspective. So say no to full time officials, but yes to adding one more on the field.

 Lewis wasn't too happy that a Baltimore writer questioned the way he and Reed played the final few games of the season. He took exception to the criticism of their tackling. Truth be known, neither one tackled that well down the stretch. It's hard to believe after 16 years, Lewis still gets worked up over the critics.

 I love the hire of Dirk Koetter by the Atlanta Falcons as offensive coordinator. Koetter and Matt Ryan will work well together. And for those worried about Koetter being too conservative, he was forced to be that way under Jack Del Rio. He often had game plans adjusted by the head coach. That won't happen in Atlanta. This is Koetter's chance to show how good a coach he can be. I bet he excels.

 I like the idea of the Miami Dolphins hiring Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. He is a damn good coach whose time has come to be the top man. Zimmer is fiery coach, but his players love him.

 Fear the Texans next year. That is a talented football team. Who knows how good they could have been if Matt Schaub didn't go down? That defense can be special. They do have to decide what to do with Mario Williams? Do they tag him? That would cost $22 million. That's way too high, considering they played without him for most of the season and finished second in total defense. Rookie Brooks Reed and Connor Barwin are both good players at outside linebacker. If Williams hits the market, he will be by far the highest-paid free agent out there.

 Just a thought, but if Jeff Fisher is worth $8 million a year what is Tom Coughlin worth?

 The Saints might lose defensive coordinator Gregg Williams to the Rams. He would join good buddy Jeff Fisher, the team's new coach. Here's what I wonder: Do the Saints really care? Williams loves to blitz, and he was undone by it against the 49ers Saturday. His defenses have struggled to defend the pass in New Orleans. 

 Did Alex Smith show what he could do when given the chance to throw against the Saints? Has he been held down his entire career? It's a legitimate question. Smith looked great in the fourth quarter and his last-minute drive was something you'd expect from Joe Montana. He was accurate, throwing into tight windows. Smith has always been a stand-up guy. It's nice to see him having some success. He's a class kid.

 Admit it. When you watched 49ers tight end Vernon Davis lighting up the Saints for 180 yards and the game-winning touchdown, you asked why he doesn't do that more? I think the 49ers need to get him involved in the offense more.

 Memo to those out there touting the Giants as a defensive team: They were eighth in scoring offense and 25th in scoring defense. They are an offensive team that has a pass rush. Period.

 Of the four teams left in the playoffs, the team that finished highest in rushing yardage was the 49ers. They were eighth. You don't run it to win anymore. You just don’t. 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com