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Peter King on M&M: ‘Every AFC team is flawed, and every AFC team has a decent shot’

12.27.13 at 12:56 pm ET

Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Patriots and news from around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

With the Patriots in line for a No. 2 seed — and the possibility of getting No. 1 or No. 3 — New Englanders have their eye on the playoffs in an AFC that lacks a dominant team.

“The problem with the AFC this year is that is that it reminds me exactly of the AFC last year,” King said. “The Baltimore Ravens could be the 6 seed; I think last year they were 5 [actually 4]. They could be a road wild card team, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Ravens make noise in the playoffs. Or I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Kansas City Chiefs get to the Super Bowl.

“I think every AFC team is flawed, and I think every AFC team has a decent shot. I don’t love a single team in the AFC. How can you? Every one of them has shown in the past month that they can be vulnerable.

“There’s a reason why there’s only been one time in the last 19 years that the two No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Super Bowl. Think about that for a second. You’ve got all these advantages — you’re playing at home, you have a bye, you get to play both games at home to get to the Super Bowl. And imagine, it’s only happened once in the last 19 years. That, to me, is stunning. And it says that what [former commissioner] Pete Rozelle designed the NFL to be is exactly what it is. Which is, there’s 18 teams right now in play for the playoffs entering the last weekend of the season. Out of the 16 games this weekend, 13 — as of 1 o’clock anyway — have some playoff implications. It’s exactly what the NFL wants.”

Looking at the NFC, King said there’s also a great deal of uncertainty there, as the Sehawks and 49ers appear to have come back to the pack.

“Before Monday I would have said that San Francisco is the second-best team in football. Now I might say it’s Carolina,” King said. “San Francisco was on such a great roll coming into Monday, and then they looked pretty mortal. Just like Seattle looked mortal against Arizona on Sunday, also at home.

“I think the last couple of weeks going to back to New Orleans dismantling Carolina at home three weeks ago, I think that has shown us that every team in the NFC can be beaten, exactly like the AFC. And that’s why I think this postseason is as wide open as any I remember.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at

On Kyle Orton taking over for injured Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo: “The only I would say positive thing is that they’ve had all week to prepare for it. That Kyle Orton will have had three practices with the first team. He hasn’t had a chance to do that the whole year. So, I just think that if you look at the only positive that you can look at, it’s that you’re not going to have a guy coming in flying blind. This is a guy whose won 37 games in his NFL starting career, who’s a really, really smart player. … Of a bad situation, this is the best thing that could have happened to them.”

On the possibility of former Patriots assistant Bill O’Brien leaving Penn State for the NFL: “I think Bill O’Brien is going to have the opportunity to coach an NFL team in 2014. It’s going to be up to him whether he wants to take it. The fact that last year he considered it, the fact that this year obviously he’s considering it — if you would take the interviews — leads me to believe that if somebody makes him an offer and he thinks he can win there, he’ll probably go. But I don’t have any inside information. I’ve not talked to O’Brien, I don’t know O’Brien. So I can’t tell you that. I can just tell you that I think he’s going to have the opportunity.”

On the best job that will be available this offseason: “I think either Houston or Detroit would be the best job. Honestly, when you look at all the jobs available, one of the things you look at is: What team out there has a good quarterback that you can win with? And that would be Detroit, if they fire Jim Schwartz. To me, that is one thing that you look at, No. 1. And No. 2, what team has a good base of talent, some good players, recently won and just had a disastrous year? And that would be the Houston Texans. To me, I would sort of look at those alternatives and basically say that either Detroit or Houston would be the two best jobs, at least in my mind.”

On Bill Belichick‘s chances of winning Coach of the Year: “Coach of the Year voting is oftentimes I think really unfortunate because sometimes guys might have their best year of a Hall of Fame career and they don’t get a sniff. Like, I think there’s a good chance that if you’re going to give it to Bill Belichick in any year, you’d give it to him in this year, even more so than the 16-0 year. But what happens in a year like this, people look at the Kansas City Chiefs going from 2-14 to 11-5 or whatever it is they’re going to end up. Or Bruce Arians coming into a bad situation in Arizona, bringing in a quarterback and going in and having the season they’ve had. Will it affect them if they don’t make the playoffs? Probably. There’s so many good candidates this year, and so many people have done a good coaching job, that I find it hard to imagine that you would be able to go wrong with any of the ones that you’d pick.”

On if Tom Brady will get any votes for MVP: “If you’ve got to vote all for one guy, it would be hard for me to vote for Tom Brady over Peyton Manning even though clearly Tom Brady has had to make due with much, much, much less than Peyton Manning, and he beat him head to head. So, I don’t think it would be a bad pick at all. My pick going into Week 17 would be Manning. He’s already the first guy in NFL history to throw for 50 touchdowns and 5,000 yards in a year. He’s probably, if he plays the whole game, going to break the yardage record held by Drew Brees.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, kyle orton, Peter King



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