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Peter King on M&M: ‘The Jets are all but out of it’

11.18.11 at 2:01 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King joined Mut & Merloni on Friday at noon for his weekly appearance. King talked about Tim Tebow leading the Broncos in their win over the Jets on Thursday night and the Patriots distancing themselves in the AFC East.

Tebow led the Broncos on a 95-yard drive late in the fourth quarter and capped it off with a 20-yard touchdown run to give Denver a 17-13 win. The loss drops the Jets to 5-5. The Patriots are 6-3 and face the Chiefs, who will be without Matt Cassel, this Monday night. King said that the situation is looking pretty hopeless for New York at this point.

“One of the most telling things last night is that the Jets fell to 4-5 in the conference. They have five conference losses right now,” King said. “That’s huge in order to get into any legitimate wild card discussion. … At the absolute bare minimum, they have to go 5-1 down the stretch, and they may have to go 6-0. Whenever you’re talking about that and whenever you’re looking at, even though the Jets have a relatively easy schedule down the stretch, I thought the game at Denver would be relatively easy. When you’re playing at Philadelphia and when you’re playing the Giants, and when you’re ending the season at Miami, which is always a bugaboo game for you, I think the Jets are all but out of it.”

King also said that he doesn’t like the Bills’ chances within the division after their recent struggles. So, despite their flaws, King thinks the Patriots have a firm hold on the AFC East for right now.

“I think it would stun everyone if the Patriots didn’t have a two-game lead over both teams in the division this weekend, but we’ll see,” King said.

King also said that the AFC in general is wide open, but that if he had to pick anyone to come out of the conference, he would select the Texans.

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Read More: Andy Reid, Mark Sanchez, Peter King, Tim Tebow

Patrick Chung on M&M: ‘I’m working hard’ to get back on field

11.18.11 at 12:06 pm ET
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Patriots safety Patrick Chung joined Mut & Merloni on Friday morning to for his weekly appearance as New England prepares for a Monday night matchup with the Chiefs. To listen to the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Chung sat out the Patriots’ 37-16 win over the Jets this past Sunday with a foot injury. His status for Monday is unknown, as his participation in practice was limited on Thursday. In typical Patriots fashion, Chung did not reveal much when asked if he would play against Kansas City.

“I’m working hard man, working hard,” Chung said.

Filling for Chung at safety against New York was rookie Sterling Moore. Chung said that Moore did a good job in his first career start.

“I think he played fine. Honestly, I had no doubts about him, he’s a very athletic guy, he’s smart,” Chung said. “He’s just young and he played good, he played good and he’s going to get better, I have no doubts about him at all.”

Chung said that it was hard to sit out a game, especially against the rival Jets, but that he made sure to make use of his time on the sidelines.

“You have to take mental reps,” Chung said. “Even when you’re not playing, you can definitely take mental reps and get your mind right and make the calls in your head as if your on the field. ‘€¦ It’s kind of like practice, it keeps your brain working.”

On Monday, the Patriots will face quarterback Tyler Palko, who is filling in for the injured Matt Cassel. Palko has played in just four games in his two-year career and attempted a total of 13 passes. But Chung said that the Patriots are preparing for Palko like they would any other starting quarterback in the NFL.

“He makes the throws,” Chung said. “He’s a good quarterback, he’s an NFL player so obviously he’s good. ‘€¦ They wouldn’t put him out there if he couldn’t make the throws, that’s my view on things. Any quarterback comes in, you have to play him like he’s All-Pro.”

Read More: Patrick Chung, Sterling Moore,

Jerod Mayo on M&M: Tim Tebow ‘a winner’

11.18.11 at 11:12 am ET
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Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo checked in for his weekly discussion with Mut & Merloni Friday, with the Patriots gearing up for a Monday night game against the Chiefs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Chiefs turn to Tyler Palko at quarterback, as Matt Cassel is out with an injured hand.

“His skill set is pretty comparable to Cassel’s,” Mayo said. “They do the same type of things. He can run, he can throw the ball. It is a little difficult not having as much film on him, but at the same time, the schemes won’t change, because they’re pretty similar in style.”

The Broncos edged the Jets Thursday night behind Tim Tebow‘s last-minute touchdown run. Mayo said he’s focused on the Chiefs and did not watch the game, but he knows Tebow well, having played him in college when both were in the SEC (Mayo at Tennessee, Tebow at Florida).

“He’s a winner,” Mayo said. “No matter if he throws the ball one time a game, he can win you the game. As he proved in college, he’s a valuable asset for a team.”

The Jets have lost two straight, having previously lost to the Patriots on Sunday. Asked if the Patriots might have a letdown Monday after the win over their rivals, he predicted that wouldn’t happen.

“I don’t think so,” Mayo said. “I think the coaches have done an excellent job all week, making sure we’re prepared and focused on this upcoming game. We’re through with the Jets. We were through with the Jets the day after. We were on to Kansas City. i think that’s the right mindset to have.”

Read More: Jerod Mayo, Tim Tebow, Tyler Palko,

Target practice: Who has been Tom Brady’s favorite receiver through nine games?

11.17.11 at 2:13 pm ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. After nine games, here’€™s a look at the target breakdown in the New England passing game for the 2011 season:

Kevin Faulk: 5 catches on 5 targets (100 percent)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: 5 catches on 6 targets (83 percent)
Stevan Ridley: 3 catches on 4 targets (75 percent)
Wes Welker: 72 catches on 101 targets (71 percent)
Rob Gronkowski: 52 catches on 73 targets (71 percent)
Aaron Hernandez: 37 catches on 55 targets (67 percent)
Deion Branch: 37 catches on 60 targets (62 percent)
Danny Woodhead: 12 catches on 20 targets (60 percent)
Chad Ochocinco: 11 catches on 23 targets (48 percent)
Julian Edelman: 3 catches on 7 targets (43 percent)
Matthew Slater: 1 catch on 3 targets (33 percent)
Taylor Price: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
Dane Fletcher: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)
TOTAL: 238 catches on 360 targets (66 percent)

By position:
Running back: 25 catches on 35 targets (71 percent)
Tight end: 89 catches on 129 targets (69 percent)
Wide receiver: 124 catches on 195 targets (64 percent)
Other: 0 catches on 1 target (0 percent)

Read More: Aaron Hernandez, BenJarvus Green Ellis, Chad Ochocinco, Dane Fletcher

Mankins: The no-huddle is ‘tiring,’ but defensive lines ‘get more tired than we do’

11.17.11 at 1:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots love to use the no-huddle offense, and have leaned on it fairly heavily through the first nine games of the season. But how does the uptempo style play with the offensive line? Left guard Logan Mankins acknowledged Thursday that “it gets pretty tiring” for the big guys up front, but the guys on the other side “are getting tired too.”

“It’€™s nice to do it occasionally when it’€™s working good. We like it,” Mankins said of the no huddle. “The d-line, I think they get more tired than we actually do, because they have to chase the ball. But it does get pretty tiring in there — you don’€™t have the rest between plays like in the huddle.”

Asked if the sight of weary defensive linemen perks him up a little, Mankins responded in the affirmative.

“Of course. You like those guys to be tired, they can’€™t go as fast,” Mankins replied. “Occasionally, they substitute guys in there and then we’€™re tired and they’€™re not, so that’€™s the disadvantage, I guess.”

Read More: Logan Mankins,

Logan Mankins talks penalties, and take a little shot at yours truly

11.17.11 at 12:42 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Logan Mankins is one of the best quotes in the Patriots locker room. Unvarnished and unfiltered, he never fails to say what’s on his mind. And when he met the media on Thursday in the media workroom at Gillette Stadium, the veteran offensive lineman didn’t disappoint, especially when it came to talking about penalties.

“It’s been pretty good, except for the penalties. That’s kind of irritating. And then there’s been a couple of other plays I wish I could do over,” he said. “The false starts, they’re something that shouldn’t happen. But they have happened, and hopefully, I won’t have any more of those.”

Through nine games, he’s been flagged for the most penalties on the team (six penalties, including two offensive holding calls and four false starts, which have totaled 36 yards). He said Thursday that the last penalty called on him last Sunday night against the Jets “was a horrible call,” a holding call he got when he was locked up with Jets linebacker Bart Scott.

“I’m not even saying that to be funny,” he said as reporters laughed. “It was horrible.”

Mankins is in the first season of a six-year, $51 million deal he signed before the start of the season. He was asked about not having to worry about “off the field stuff” because of his new deal, and when he answered, he gave a specific answer in my direction.

“No, because like in years prior, once I’m here, I’m here,” he said. “But once you get a big contract, people like Chris Price here, they’re going to see if you were playing as good as you were before.”

Read More: Chris Price, Logan Mankins,

Meet the personable Tyler Palko: Philosopher, comedian, new Chiefs starting QB

11.16.11 at 9:20 pm ET
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FOXBORO — The Patriots are saying all the right things about Tyler Palko.

He’s a competent quarterback and they will be ready for him on Monday night at Gillette. He beat out Joe Flacco for a starting job at the University of Pittsburgh, sending Flacco packing for the University of Delaware. He is a strong-armed lefty who can scramble and can throw the ball from any arm angle.

All of which may be true, but ask Palko about his own future and he’s not about to draw conclusions or comparisons to Matt Cassel’s path to Kansas City.

“That’€™s nice for you guys to talk about, all that stuff, but you can’€™t write the story before it’€™s written,” Palko said Wednesday in a conference call, channeling his inner-Yogi Berra. “It’€™s obviously comparisons and all that other stuff, but that’€™s not going to win the game ‘€“ because it’€™s aligning this way or it’€™s not aligning this way. Right now, my job is to go out and to give our team a chance to win. I don’€™t have enough time to think about all that stuff and if you’€™re thinking about playing for a contract or playing because you’€™re facing a guy that it happened [to] or the guy that you’€™re replacing this happened to him and it’€™s going to happen to me, then you’€™re really taking your focus off what’€™s really important and that’€™s the game plan.

“And the task at hand is to try to beat the Patriots and it’€™s a heck of a task for us. Everybody on the team that night is going to need to be locked in and focused on one goal and that’€™s winning the football game because these guys that we’€™re facing on Monday night, they’€™re no slouch. They’€™re a great football team and the reason why they’€™re the New England Patriots is because they’€™ve done it over a long period of time.”

What did he see from the short-handed Patriots defensively, particularly against the Jets?

“That just goes to show you how good Coach [Bill Belichick] is,” Palko said. “He’€™s a defensive genius and he has a lot of guys out and they do a great job of trying to take away your strengths. They try to get you to make mistakes and get you behind the chains and put you in long yardage situations and try to make you make mistakes. I think Coach Belichick, he’€™s proven that he’€™s a defensive genius and I wouldn’€™t expect anything less. I’€™m sure he’€™s not feeling sorry for himself because he’€™s got some guys out. He’€™s got an untested quarterback and I’€™m sure he’€™s not going to take it easy on me.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: California Redwoods, joe flacco, Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Cassel
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