Refs giving linemen more leeway in the trenches

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Simply stated, the officials are letting them play in the trenches and holding is not being called. Last week there were 509 offensive plays in the four games and just four holding calls. During the regular season there were an average of just over seven holding calls in any four games. It will be interesting to see if divisional weekend is like the 2011 divisional weekend when only two holding calls were made.


Alex Smith was 20-6 as the 49ers starter under Jim Harbaugh and led the team to an opening-day win over the Packers with two touchdown passes and now sits on the bench.

Colin Kaepernick is the future of the franchise, but now has to take on the team Smith beat to keep the quest for a Super Bowl championship alive. Both quarterbacks threw the same number of passes (218) and Smith had three more touchdown throws than Kaepernick, but Kaepernick ran for five touchdowns.

It's all on the line this weekend and the midseason QB decision is either brilliant or a disaster.


When Vernon Davis started the season he was targeted 34 times and caught 23 passes with four touchdowns in the first six weeks. The All-Pro tight end was on pace for 61 receptions and 11 touchdowns.

In the last six weeks Davis has disappeared with just 12 targets, six receptions and zero touchdowns.

A few weeks ago Davis told me he was double-teamed most of the time, but it seems like he is singled enough to become a bigger part of the offense.


The Broncos and Patriots sat at home last week resting up for this round of the playoffs at home. Both teams are no-huddle outfits that will easily use 40 snaps of no-huddle in a home game. Denver has 585 snaps of no-huddle and coach John Fox called Denver the best home-field advantage in the league. Denver has 23 touchdowns from the no-huddle and averages 6.35 yards a play.

The Patriots have used the no-huddle 348 times and recorded 12 touchdowns.

Brooks Reed, the fine linebacker for the visiting Texans, pointed out how difficult it can be to prepare for the Patriots' no-huddle. The Patriots have three or four different team speeds they run out of the no-huddle to create advantages.


Ray Lewis and Ed Reed are two of the greatest Ravens to ever play the game, but they are up against Peyton Manning. The history of this matchup isn't good for the Ravens.

Lewis has been on the field opposite Manning for seven straight losses and he has never intercepted Manning. Lewis has one sack and two passes defended in the seven-game losing streak against No. 18. Reed is 0-9 against Manning even though he has intercepted him four times in those nine games.

Finally, Terrell Suggs is 0-8 against Manning with no sacks. This is a tough assignment for the Ravens.


There is tons of pressure on the Falcons to finally win a playoff game in the Mike Smith regime. The 56 wins in regular-season play in the five years Smith has been the Falcons coach mean nothing if his team doesn't win.

One way or another the Falcons defense is going to have to stop Russell Wilson when he takes off and runs. Wilson is a capable runner with 102 carries for 556 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.

In the last four games Wilson has picked up the running pace with 33 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns. The Falcons defense has struggled against running quarterbacks this year.

I’m sure Wilson is aware Cam Newton rushed 18 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons this year.

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