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Peter King on M&M: ‘I can’t see Ed Reed being much of a factor in the AFC playoff race’

11.15.13 at 1:11 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss news from around the NFL, including the possible impact of Ed Reed, the health status of Peyton Manning and the legal maneuverings of Richie Incognito.

It was a quiet week for the Patriots, who were off last weekend, with the week’s big news being the team’s interest — or lack thereof — in Reed, who became a free agent after being cut by the Texans and then clearing waivers. The veteran safety signed with the Jets on Thursday.

“I heard right away that the Jets reached out and that Rex Ryan personally pushed hard for this,” King said. “But it’s hard for me to imagine that if Bill Belichick called Ed Reed the day this happened and said, ‘I really want you,’ it’s just hard for me to imagine that Reed wouldn’t have gone.”

King predicted Reed’s influence would be minimal over the season’s final seven weeks.

“I think you’ve got to be a little bit realistic in this case about what Ed Reed has left,” King said. “The guy had 14 tackles for Houston. He was hurt a lot more than he played. He did not play effectively. I live in New York now, and they’ve made a huge deal in the last 24 hours over Ed Reed signing. But it’s like in any game in any sport, when you sign a guy who’s significantly over the hill, it’s great for headlines, but headlines don’t play, headlines don’t win games.

“I can’t see Ed Reed being much of a factor in the AFC playoff race.”

In Denver, Manning has been sitting out practices with an injured ankle as the Broncos prepare to host the undefeated Chiefs in an AFC West showdown Sunday night. King said Manning will be under center, but he could struggle.

“The injury report doesn’t matter. Whatever it is they say, he’s going to play,” King said. “We all know that he’s hobbled on either one or both ankles; I think there’s some mystery there. But the word out of Denver is he’s going a high ankle sprain and is really not going to be able to be mobile. And I think against four legitimate pass rushers in Tamba Hali, Justin Houston on the outside, Derrick Johnson and Dontari Poe on the inside — look, Denver’s line has allowed him in the last three weeks to get mauled. And especially over left guard, where Zane Beadles is having a terrible year.

“I really question how effective Peyton Manning can be. If you have a fantasy team this week, I don’t think this is the week to think you’re going to get many bombs out of Demaryius Thomas, because I just don’t know how much time Manning is going to have this weekend.”

Added King: “This could be the kind of game, really, that Carolina and San Francisco played last week [a 10-9 Panthers win]. I know it sounds crazy to think that, but this could be a very low-scoring game won by the defense. I have sincere reservations about whether Manning is going to be able to play effectively on that ankle and against this pass rush, this team that clearly is in the lead in sacks in the NFL. ‘€¦ I keep thinking that even if Kansas City can eke out 17 points this weekend from an offense that isn’t playing well, I think they’re going to have a really good chance to win this game.”

Incognito, the offensive lineman suspended by the Dolphins for detrimental conduct, filed a grievance Thursday in an effort to return to the field and recoup his lost money.

“He’s asked for an expedited grievance, which means that he wants this resolved in the next week or two so he can move forward and I believe try to play for a contender down the stretch if they don’t take him back,” King said. “I think it would be very, very hard for them to take him back. Certainly I think it would be harder for them to take Jonathan Martin back right now, for the chemistry of the team in the locker room.

“He’s looking to get this resolved in the next couple of weeks so he can move on with his career.”

The Dolphins situation is one of a few negative stories that have hurt the league’s image this month. There also was a story last week that some retired stars are showing signs of CTE believed to have been caused from their football careers. Questions about the culture and long-term health effects of football have some concerned that the game might not be able to survive — at least in its current form.

“You really have to start wondering long term about the future of football,” King acknowledged. “But I think the reason why the NFL is going to exist and why it’s going to continue, I’m not saying unabated, but why I think it’s going to continue to be the most popular game, it’s because universally in America — although there are a lot of people who are waking up and saying that we don’t like X, Y and Z about the brutality of it, which is understandable — the record numbers of people still watching it, how do these ratings keep rising? I don’t know. How do the numbers of people playing fantasy football keep rising? More than one out of 10 Americans play fantasy football — American adults. Doesn’t that strike you as incredible? And all those people are paying attention to the NFL on Sunday. It’s the kind of thing that baseball and basketball and hockey can only dream of.

“At some point are they going to kill the golden goose? They might. But I don’t see an end in sight, at least right now.”

As for the issue of players who have suffered brain damage from football and are looking for compensation from the league, King said it’s only going to get worse.

“Is this just the start of it? Are we seeing the tip of the iceberg? Absolutely,” he said. “This is going to be a story for years. And the guys like Tony Dorsett and Leonard Marshall and all those guys coming forward, we’re going to see hundreds of those in the next few years.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Ed Reed, Peter King, Peyton Maning, Richie Incognito
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