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Bill Polian: Tom Brady probably will win NFL MVP, but ‘if I had a vote it would be 10 votes for [Ezekiel] Elliott’ 12.28.16 at 8:26 pm ET
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Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The NFL MVP race is coming down to the last week of the season and really any one of about five players could win the award, including Tom Brady.

Former Colts vice chairman and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian went on ESPN Charlotte Radio Wednesday and said he believes Brady will win the award, but it didn’t seem like he agrees.

“I don’t know who is going to win. It’s usually a quarterback. It’s probably going to be Tom Brady if you asked me to guess, but if I had a vote it would be 10 votes for [Ezekiel] Elliott,” he said. “He’s made the Cowboys into a different team and all you have to do is look at the statistics of his backups when they play behind the same offense line, the same receivers and the same quarterback and look at the statistics when he is in the game. He is the difference makers of all difference makers. He’s the air apparent to AP [Adrian Peterson]. He’s the reason they are where they are.”

As for the AFC playoffs, he believes the Patriots have the advantage because they will likely be the No. 1 seed.

“I think New England, Pittsburgh and Kansas City are pretty close,” Polian said. “New England has the edge obviously because they are going to play at home and their record at home is beyond belief. That is an advantage for them. As you would say in tennis: Advantage Patriots.”

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Mike Florio on D&C: Broncos ‘going to want to move on once and for all’ from Peyton Manning after season 01.22.16 at 10:14 am ET
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Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC sports made his weekly appearance on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Friday morning to preview the AFC championship game. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

With Manning vs. Brady XVII on the horizon, one of the big questions this week has been whether or not this will be Peyton Manning‘s final season in the league.

“If he had never come back and played, if November 15 against the Chiefs had been all we had seen of Manning this year, I think he would have been far more inclined to try to play next year to eliminate the whole Willie Mays stink that would have attached to him,” Florio said. “Just to come back and show, ‘I’m going out on my own terms, I can still play at a high level.’ But now I think it’s harder for him to play anywhere else next year, because he made it to the AFC championship game. And he came back and he acquitted himself well Week 17, and he played well enough to win last week. I mean, it wasn’t beautiful, but he played well enough to win. so I think it makes it harder for him to go somewhere else next year.

“I don’t think the Broncos want him in 2016. John Elway already is refusing to talk about it, they’re not going to want to pay him $19 million, they’re going to want to move on once and for all and find a guy that fits Gary Kubiak‘s system better. So I just think that the fact that he came back and played in two games and played well enough to advance to the AFC championship game is going to make it very hard for him to go somewhere where he doesn’t believe he can get as far or farther. And I can’t think of a team out there where he jumps right in and they’re immediately a final four team.”

Former Colts general manager and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian said recently that Manning is playing at a higher level than Tom Brady. Florio called out the “hothead” for his lack of objectivity.

“With Polian, it’s obvious. Polian drafted the guy. He’s hardly objective, he’s hated the Patriots for years, he lobbied for rule changes after the Patriots kicked the Colts’ butts in the playoffs back 10, 12 years ago. I don’t take anything Polian says on the topic with any degree of credibility,” Florio said. “How can he be credible on it? How can he be? … He obviously has a bias, and he should preface anything he says about Manning and Brady with that reality.”

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Bill Polian, Gary Kubiak, Mike Florio
Bill Polian on MFB: Robert Kraft has ‘always been the NFL’s leading citizen’ 05.22.15 at 12:20 pm ET
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ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian, a frequent critic of the Patriots, joined the Middays with MFB crew on Friday to discuss Deflategate and how the Patriots are perceived around the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Polian, a former longtime Colts executive, had high praise for Robert Kraft, who this week announced the Patriots would not appeal their punishment for Deflategate.

“I think it’s just typical of Mr. Kraft. He’s always been the NFL’s leading citizen. He’s a leader in every way. He’s a guy who thinks about the league first, last and always,” Polian said. “Anybody else you might be a little bit surprised by the reaction, but knowing Mr. Kraft, I’m not surprised at all. He did what was best for the league rather than his own franchise.”

As for speculation that Kraft gave in to other owners, Polian said that’s unlikely due to the Patriots owner’s standing.

“No, I don’t think so. He’s one of the leading owners in the league. There’s no one going to pressure him,” Polian said. “The bottom line is he looked at the issues and recognized that while he probably would have liked things to turn out better for the Patriots in the long run, what’s important for the league is what ultimately counts. That attitude was called ‘league think,’ that phrase created, at least to my knowledge, by Pete Rozelle. And Mr. Kraft follows it to the letter.”

Polian said the issue is not about what did or did not happen, but whether the commissioner has the right to do what he did.

“It wasn’t about the argument,” Polian said. “At this point it isn’t about the Patriots or Tom Brady, even. It’s about the commissioner’s right to handle unilaterally — and in conjunction with the rights given him in the collective bargaining agreement since 1968, and tradition dating all the way back to the Black Sox in 1919, with Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first commissioner of baseball. The commissioner has the right to handle the integrity of the game. It is his responsibility. And that responsibility extends not only to the owners and players and coaches and general managers and staff people, but to the fans as well. Because if the integrity of the game is called into question in any way, it affects the overall health of the game and standing of the game in society.

“So to take that from the commissioner is an absolutely bad precedent. And of course Round 2 of that takes place in Tom Brady‘s grievance hearing. But the fact that Mr. Kraft went ahead and accepted the commissioner’s decision is in line with the longstanding tradition of the league and is what is best for the league in the long run.”

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Read More: Bill Polian, Robert Kraft, roger goodell, Tom Brady
Bill Polian: ‘Obvious’ Patriots pushed for new extra-point rule because it would benefit them 05.20.15 at 9:20 pm ET
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Former Indy GM Bill Polian took some shots at the Patriots earlier this week. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Former Indy GM Bill Polian took some shots at the Patriots earlier this week. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Former Colts general manager Bill Polian, who pushed for a series of very specific changes to the pass interference rules as part of the competition committee after his Indy team was humiliated in the playoffs a decade ago, said Tuesday that it was “obvious” the Patriots proposed the changes in the extra-point rules for their own benefit.

Speaking with Sirius/XM Radio, Polian said the reason New England advocated pushing the PATs back to the 15-yard line was because it would give teams in “northern climes” an advantage late in the season.

“This was, in a different form, proposed by the New England Patriots. The reason they proposed it is obvious,” he said. “In January and December, and even in late November, in northern climes (like) Foxboro, Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh — well documented, of course, in Pittsburgh at the open end of the stadium, how difficult it is to kick field goals. The team from the northern climes that plays and practices in the harsher weather — the old Meadowlands being a prime example of that — has a decided advantage. And they wouldn’t have proposed it if (the Patriots) didn’t think it would help them.”

Polian isn’t a fan of the new rules.

“This is emphasizing the kicking game at the most critical part, when really, the longstanding philosophy has been to de-emphasize the kicking game whenever possible,” said Polian, who currently works as an analyst for ESPN. “We want touchdowns rather than field goals.

“Somehow or other, as a traditionalist, as a guy who learned the game at the feet of Paul Brown, Jim Finks and Don Shula, I have a hard time getting my arms around this,” he added. “I worry about an AFC or NFC championship being decided on a missed field goal or a missed extra point from 32 yards in snow, on ice, in January. I think that’s a miscarriage of justice, if you will. I would’ve much preferred to see it stay where it was, because I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”

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Bill Polian: Lots to consider when it comes to shelling out top money for elite slot receivers 03.05.13 at 5:52 pm ET
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We have already written about how this is a key offseason for slot receivers, as many of them are either pending free agents or close to free agency and as a result, teams that have a top-level slot receiver across the league are looking at the Wes Welker situation as a potential contract that will set the bar for other elite slot guys like Victor Cruz, Danny Amendola and Percy Harvin.

On Tuesday afternoon, former NFL exec Bill Polian — who helped build the Bills, Panthers and Colts and is now an analyst for ESPN — was asked about any reservations GMs might have when it comes to paying top-level slot receivers like big-time receivers.

‘€œI don’€™t know that if there is any reservation about that other than injury and longevity. [Danny] Amendola has been injured. He’€™s a very good player, but you have to take the injuries into consideration,’€ said Polian on a conference call with reporters. ‘€œThat’€™s where it comes into play. I don’€™t think it’€™s necessarily small-bodied or even more quick than fast guys. They’€™re productive and have proven to be productive. I don’€™t think they come along every day.  So I don’€™t think there is a glut of them on the market.  In Wes’€™s case there is age and in Amendola’€™s case the injury so that plays into it.

‘€œ[But] how much are you willing to commit to any individual player given your cap situation, a flat cap?’€ he added. ‘€œIt’€™s essentially a flat cap, and the ability to field the team within that flat cap. All of those things come into play. I don’€™t think it has to do with a specific position or a specific body type. Free agency is much more, much more about individuals, their productivity, their injury history, their age and their cost than the draft is. They’€™re almost diametrically opposed.’€

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Bill Polian: Good draft for offensive line, linebacker and safety 02.23.13 at 1:46 pm ET
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INDIANAPOLIS — Bill Polian said this draft is well-stocked for a team looking to make additions at three different positions: offensive line, linebacker and safeties.

“This draft is a draft that I think is pretty good on the offensive line — I mean, throughout. Not just the first round. It’s pretty good on the offensive line,” said the former Colts GM at the scouting combine on Saturday afternoon. “I think there are some pretty good linebackers. I think there are some really good safeties. You probably would lean toward defense if you drew a line and said which side of the line this draft is heaviest on.”

Polian, who now works as an analyst for ESPN, said that while he’s not sure which direction the Patriots will go this year, he was impressed by what they did last spring when it came to restocking their defense with first-round picks Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower.

“I’m not sure which direction they’d go — they make that decision,” Polian said of New England, which holds the 29th overall pick in the draft. “They’ve done it well, making great use of all their picks — their multiple picks — to shore up the defense recently. They’ll make the right decision.”

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The departure of Bill Polian and the possible end of the Patriots-Colts rivalry 01.03.12 at 1:16 am ET
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While new characters in the long-running rivalry will surely pop up sooner rather than later, the news that Bill Polian has been fired closes a momentous chapter in the decade-long rivalry between the Patriots and Colts.

After working as the GM of the Bills and Panthers, Polian came to Indianapolis prior to the start of the 1998 season. The Colts, who had the first pick in the 1998 draft, went with Peyton Manning, which started a turnaround that saw Indy go from 3-13 in 1998 to 13-3 in 1999. And under Polian, Manning and coach Tony Dungy, they would become a perennial playoff entrant soon after that.

In many ways, their rise to power mirrored that of the Patriots. The two organizations were AFC royalty — in the nine seasons between 2001 and 2009, either the Patriots or Colts represented the AFC in the Super Bowl six times. They always provided great drama, a terrific study in contrasts. Indy was an offensive juggernaut playing indoors on the turf, while the Patriots were a defensive powerhouse that thrived in the cold and snow. That extended to the quarterback spot: Manning and Tom Brady became contemporaries, football’€™s version of Bird-Magic or Russell-Chamberlain.

The rivalry peaked between 2003 and 2007. Watching those games, it put you in the mind of great theatre: In 2003 and 2004, the two teams met in a pair of postseason classics, with New England getting the better of the Colts on each occasion. The Patriots also won two memorable regular season games those two years, with New England taking a narrow victory in Indy in 2003 and an equally dramatic win in the 2004 season opener.

For whatever reason, Polian enjoyed sitting in the press box during games, where his passion was on full display for the media. During the 2003 AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Polian raged from the press box at perceived pass interference penalties that weren’€™t called against the New England secondary, at one point yelling, ‘€œThrow the (expletive) flag!’€ He was a member of the NFL’€™s competition committee, and that offseason, in a move that was widely perceived as a swipe at the Patriots, lobbied for stronger rules when it came to pass defense, cracking down on illegal contact and defensive holding, rules that have had a colossal impact on the game the last few years.
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