|Peter King on M&M: ‘I just fear Colin Kaepernick a lot more than I would the San Francisco defense’||02.01.13 at 2:30 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King spoke with Mut & Merloni Friday about HGH testing in the NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell’s State of the League address, the 49ers offense and the Ravens defense.
King said he thinks the idea of the Ravens as a “team of destiny” that will be driven to victory by intangibles isn’t the Super Bowl’s best storyline.
“I think the emotion’s a silly angle. Maybe the emotion helps you for five minutes, but you’ve got to play football,” King said. “I think we get these comfortable storylines – great defense versus an old defense – that’s the storyline down here, and I just say, have you watched the games? I don’t see, when I watch the San Francisco, a peerless defense. They’ve got eight sacks in the last five games. That’s a great pressure defense?
“Aldon Smith, Justin Smith – no sacks in the last five games. Aldon Smith had a good game in the championship game, but I don’t know, I think we lapse into storylines too easy, and I pick the Ravens, too. I just fear Colin Kaepernick a lot more than I would fear the San Francisco defense.”
Following are some highlights from the conversation. To hear the entire interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
On whether Ray Lewis’ legacy will be affected by the SI story: ”Not making any accusations, just stating a fact, but there is not currently a test in the NFL for HGH. So if there’s not a test, how do we know that 800 players don’t use HGH? So I’m not charging anybody with anything, but there’s a lot of things right now the NFL can’t test for, and so there are people who are going to believe what they want to believe and that’s it.”
NFL Network analyst Heath Evans spoke with Mut & Merloni from New Orleans Friday about his own use of the velvet deer antler substance Ray Lewis reportedly used, how it differs from traditional steroids, and how the Ravens can beat Colin Kaepernick.
Evans said he has been taking the deer antler substance in tablet form, which is stronger than the spray, and that it’s made a significant difference in his cognitive function since he retired from football.
“I’ve had ADD since I was born, but probably only in 2009, 2010 – I would be lying if I said I didn’t have concern about maybe some of the cognitive stuff, just stuff you shouldn’t forget,” Evans said. “And over the last six months since I’ve been taking the velvet deer antler tablets, I sleep. I rest. I recall on-air on NFL Network, being sent downstairs at night by Beth and not forgetting what she sent me down there for.”
“I’m, like, the least psychosomatic person in the world,” he went on. “The chips that [SWATS co-owner Mitch Ross] put on people’s wrists so they run faster and bench more, they didn’t work for me. And I think there are a lot of psychosomatic athletes, and I would not represent that product of his. But the deer antler was something I was introduced to in 2008 by a good friend of mine that runs Garden of Life, the multi-hundred billion dollar company, and I saw some good, actual things come out of it.
“I don’t use notes on air anymore. If I do, it’s once a week or it’s a longer-working subject. Last year, I was almost strapped to my notes at times.”
Evans said if Lewis did take the deer antler spray, it’s not worthy of the PED discussion it’s drawn.
“The PED word, steroids and all that nonsense – this is nothing, and I mean nothing, like that,” Evans said. “If that helped Ray recover, it was minimalistic. It probably did have some effects, but it was because Ray dieted perfect. He rested perfect. He did everything else they told him to do. He had surgery and he took care of his body, and he probably wasn’t out drinking and smoking and doing a lot of the stuff other NFL players do, and his body responded, because our bodies are amazing when we treat them right.”
Boomer Esiason called in from New Orleans to talk with Dennis & Callahan about the state of the 49ers and Ravens as they head into the Super Bowl, and whether the Ravens’ intangibles or the 49ers’ talent will prevail.
In a week filled with off-field news items about Ravens and 49ers players, Esiason said he doubts the accusations of PED use will slow down Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, but that 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver seems shaken up by the media attention he’s gained this week for an anti-gay remark.
“Given all that Ray Lewis has been through, from the double murder back in 2000 to all of his gyrations during games and all of the publicity that’s he’s gotten, that’s the last thing that they worry about,” Esiason said.
“Now, on the other side, Culliver, who made the anti-gay statement, he was really uncomfortable and really felt badly about what he said. I don’t necessarily know that he understood the enormity of what he said. His situation’s a little bit different, and he’s probably going to carry that a little into the game, because I really felt that he he looked very very embarrassed and overwhelmed by the whole dust-up that his comments created.”
Asked about Ravens safety Ed Reed, whom Bill Belichick admires, Esiason said he could see Reed aiming to play with a quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning assuming he leaves the Ravens as a free agent this offseason.
“I’m sure that Ed Reed probably loves this experience that he’s having with the Baltimore Ravens right now,” Esiason said. “I would think he’d be willing to take a little less money — I imagine, I don’t want to put words in his mouth — to play for one of those franchises for a chance at a Super Bowl ring.”
Esiason’s Super Bowl prediction was a tight, defense-dominated battle: “This game should be a fourth-quarter game. It should be a relatively tight game. It should stay in the 20s. I’d be really shocked if somebody scores 30 points in this game, unless there’s some breakdown on special teams, which I really don’t expect.”
|Peter King on M&M: Joe Flacco ‘fearless about throwing the ball deep’||01.18.13 at 2:00 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday morning to preview the NFL’s conference championship weekend.
King, who predicts a 31-26 Patriots victory over the Ravens, is leaving open the possibility of an upset.
“The Patriots have been so good in these championship games, so consistent,” King said. “It’s not going to be their mistake that’s going to beat them, if history is a judge. It’s going to be the Ravens playing well if they win.”
Joe Flacco‘s ability to test the Patriots secondary with the long ball is one of the keys to this game.
“I just think he’s a very good deep-ball thrower,” King said. “Throwing the deep ball twice to Torrey Smith and once to Jacoby Jones six days ago is why the Ravens won that game. If he doesn’t take chances downfield, they’re sitting home right now and it’s New England going to play at Denver on Sunday.
“We talk about players, who’s elite, who’s not elite — I don’t know who’s elite and who isn’t. All I know is that in this game — I don’t think Joe Flacco’s ever going to have the kind of great completion percentage or anything like that that’s going to make him one of the top-rated quarterbacks, but I believe that his team is always going to have a chance for a very simple reason: He’s fearless about throwing the ball deep and he’s the best deep-ball thrower both on percentage and in yardage in the NFL this year.
“I think the Patriots secondary is really going to have a lot to do with whether they move on.”
On the other side of the ball, the aging Baltimore defense will attempt to contain New England’s uptempo offense.
“They better have a lot left in their tank,” King said of the Ravens. “After having a much tougher road in the playoffs, obviously, than New England has had, they better have a pass rush on [Tom] Brady left, particularly when it comes to Paul Kruger. I think he’s the guy that — because right now Terrell Suggs just really isn’t himself, and I don’t know that he is going to be himself in this postseason at all — I think they have to rely on Paul Kruger to get to Tom Brady and do some damage. … In my opinion, that’s going to have a lot to do with who wins and loses this game — how much the Ravens have left in their tank.”
|Jerry Rice on M&M: Ravens will edge Patriots||01.17.13 at 1:36 pm ET|
Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice chatted with Mut & Merloni on Thursday to give his prediction for Sunday’s AFC championship game and discuss other NFL news.
“I know you guys are in Boston, but this is going to be a great game between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens,” Rice said. “I know the last game was questionable just a little bit. I think Tom Brady‘s going to come out and exceptional like he always does, but I think they’re going to get edged out a little bit by the Baltimore Ravens.
“I think the Ravens right now are just playing exceptional football. I look at Joe Flacco and the thing that really impresses me with him is that he doesn’t have any INTs. Ray Rice is running the ball well, and all of a sudden Torrey Smith — they stretch the ball downfield, throwing it deep, he’s making plays. I’m sure Anquan Boldin‘s going to be a factor. On defense, Ray Lewis and [Ed] Reed, those guys are going to be ready and I think they’re inspired with this might be Ray Lewis’ last football game. They feel like they have an opportunity to do something special, so it should be a great football game.”
Reed and his fellow defensive backs will attempt to shut down Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker. Welker had eight receptions for 131 yards in this past Sunday’s win over the Texans.
“I don’t like him breaking my records,” Rice joked. “I had an opportunity to meet this guy, he’s such a great individual, he’s a hard worker and you just cannot cover this guy one-on-one. He’s going to continue putting up big numbers like that if you try to line him up with a linebacker or safety because he’s just too quick off the line of scrimmage and he’s too explosive and he’s going to make plays.
“He can pretty much take over a ballgame, and that’s really what you ask for in a playmaker that’s a receiver on the football field, and he’s capable of doing that. Like I stated, he is not going to be covered and I know Tom Brady is always going to go to him. He’s like that security blanket for him and he knows that this guy is going to get open and make plays. So, I think he pretty much has earned his money and they should pay him a lucrative contract.
“I think he’s in the top five [receivers in NFL] without a doubt. What he brings to that team, and also he sets the standards. The way this guy prepares, his preparation, his hard work during practice, and that carries over to the game on that given Sunday or that Monday. Those are the types of guys you want to give the big contracts and you want the other guys to look at these guys and say, ‘Wow, this is the way to be a professional and this is how you should conduct yourself.’ ”
|Colin Kaepernick leads 49ers over Packers with record-setting performance||01.12.13 at 11:38 pm ET|
Colin Kaepernick set a new NFL rushing record for a quarterback with 183 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more as the 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers, 45-31, Saturday night in their NFC divisional playoff in San Francisco.
In all, Kaepernick accounted for 446 yards and four touchdowns as the 49ers earned their second straight trip to the NFC championship game. They will either play at home next Sunday against the Seahawks or travel to Atlanta for a showdown with the Falcons.
Kaepernick ran for touchdowns of 21 and 56 yards, with the 56-yarder snapping a 24-24 tie and putting the Niners ahead for good. Kaepernick outdueled Green Bay second-team All-Pro Aaron Rodgers, who was 26-of-39 for 257 yards and two touchdowns. Kaepernick showed mental toughness as he threw a pick-6 to Green Bay’s Sam Shields, giving the Packers an early 7-0 lead.
The 49ers have a chance at redemption by getting back to the NFC championship next week, a game they lost in overtime to the Giants one year ago.
The Seahawks and Falcons square off at Sunday at 1 p.m. before the Patriots and Texans do battle at Gillette at 4:30.
For more, visit the Patriots team page at weei.com/patriots.
|WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: Niners, Broncos pull ahead of Patriots||12.18.12 at 10:42 am ET|
For the second straight week, the No. 1 team has been dethroned in the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. After falling to the Niners at home, the Patriots drop to No. 3 while San Francisco leaps to the top of the class. Nine straight wins has propelled the Broncos all the way to the No. 2 spot, and the red-hot Seahawks fly jump to No. 7.
The Giants (8), Ravens (9) and Steelers (15) all plummet as those three teams are a combined 2-7 in the month of December. With just two games to go, many teams are fighting for their playoff lives. The NFC race will be fascinating as six teams — Giants, Redskins (10), Bears (11) Cowboys (12), Seahawks and Vikings (16) — fight for three remaining spots.
As usual, the Jaguars (32), Chiefs (31), Raiders (30) and Eagles (29) remain the bottom feeders of the NFL.
1. (2) 49ers (10-3-1) — Yes, the Niners blew a 28-point lead, but they also went into Gillette Stadium and beat the red-hot Patriots in December. It was very impressive that they were able to keep their composure after losing the lead. In the end, the best defense in the league beat the best offense.
2. (3) Broncos (11-3) — With games against two of the worst teams in the league remaining, the Broncos should wrap up the regular season and go into the playoffs with a first-round bye and 11 consecutive wins.
3. (1) Patriots (10-4) — The road to the Super Bowl got a little tougher, but the Patriots have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. No team in the AFC will want to play New England once the playoffs begin. Putting up 31 points in a half against the best defense in the league without Rob Gronkowski is pretty impressive.
4. (4) Texans (12-2) — The number of big plays the Houston defense has allowed over the past few weeks has to be concerning to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Texans have given up a 30-plus, an 80-plus, and three 60-plus-yard touchdown passes in their last five games.
5. (5) Falcons (12-2) — As the playoffs draw near, the Falcons made their best case on Sunday for why teams should be afraid to play them this postseason. This is a mentally tough, resilient and well-rounded football team.
6. (6) Packers (10-4) — Packers fans are optimistic their team will make another deep postseason run. Green Bay has won eight of its last nine, has wrapped up the NFC North, and is getting healthy at the right time.
7. (9) Seahawks (9-5) — Since November, the Seahawks have scored 210 points and are averaging 35 points per game. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch have developed into one of the best quarterback-running back tandems in the league.
8. (7) Giants (8-6) — The inconsistent play at the end of the regular season has to catch up to them eventually, right? It’s hard to count the Giants out after what they did in ’07 and ’11, but they have put themselves in a very dangerous position with just two games to go.
9. (8) Ravens (9-5) — The Ravens need to find a way to stop the negative momentum that has built up in December. The best way to do that is for Joe Flacco to focus on protecting the football. Flacco has turned the ball over six times this month with three interceptions and three fumbles.
10. (13) Redskins (8-6) — It’s amazing how this team has gone from out of playoff contention to first place in the NFC East. The Redskins control their destiny — two more wins and they can call themselves division champs for the first time since 1999.
11. (10) Bears (8-6) — What good is Jay Cutler if he can’t beat the Packers? The Bears QB is 1-6 against Green Bay since joining the NFC North. It’s hard to imagine that a team that started the season 7-1 could miss the playoffs. Chicago controlled the division for most of the season but lost both of its games to Green Bay this year.
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