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Peter King on M&M: ‘I think they owe it to Tom Brady to get a lot better at the receiver position’ 01.31.14 at 1:12 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King checked in with Mut & Merloni from Super Bowl Radio Row to preview Sunday’s game and discuss Patriots offseason news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“I picked the Broncos, but look, if [the Seahawks] pick [Peyton] Manning off two or three times, they’re going to win,” King said. “I think one of the things you’ll see on Sunday — and I talked to Peyton a little bit about this yesterday, I had a few minutes with him after practice — I think Peyton Manning right now when he looks at this game what he sees is five-wide receiver formations, or five-receiver formations, maybe with Jacob Tamme or Andre Caldwell in the game. Spread, spread, spread. And just challenge Seattle to cover every guy so that he can’t find a window with any of the five guys. In my opinion, I think that’s the way they’re going to play it, and I think that’s smart.

“And then on Seattle’s side, I think Seattle is going to try to get Marshawn Lynch, and they’re going to try to run well and run the clock so that Manning only gets eight possessions. I think Seattle feels like, ‘We cannot give Manning the ball 11 times. If we do, we’re not going to win.’ ”

Touching on the Patriots, King said the primary need is obvious, but he said a trade for a big-name wide receiver appears unlikely.

“I see that it’s much more likely, at least in my mind, for them to draft and develop a receiver,” King said. “But I will say this: There are going to be a bunch of receivers who you can get. I think my feeling is they need to get younger and better at wide receiver, and I’m not sure the way to do that is by spending $12 million a year on a guy.”

King agreed that the team needs to surround Tom Brady with better talent.

“Especially after he did them — and no matter what anybody says, Brady did them a favor last year [by renegotiating]. And Brady will eventually, over the life of this contract, I believe, make less money than he could have — certainly than he could have. And he did that for a very simple reason: He wanted the team around him to be better. And look, some of this is circumstantial. Because there’s absolutely nothing that they could have done about this. Absolutely nothing.”

“And I think when you look at what has happened in the NFL now, you’re talking about a window. You look at what, to me, what the Denver Broncos did for Peyton Manning. He had a great situation going. And they said, ‘Oh, my God, two years [$]12 million for [Wes] Welker?’ ”

Added King: “I’m not saying that the Patriots have to go out and do something splashy like that. All I’m saying is that I think they owe it to Tom Brady to get a lot better at the receiver position.”

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Read More: Peter King, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Peter King on M&M: ‘Silly’ to say AFC championship determines Peyton Manning’s legacy 01.17.14 at 1:21 pm ET
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Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni Friday to talk about his AFC and NFC championship predictions and Peyton Manning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While they have different stories, King compared the legacies of Jerry Rice and Manning to prove his point that one game should not completely define Manning’€™s career.

“When I think of Jerry Rice, I don’€™t think that he couldn’t do it when he was 42,” King said. “The Manning story is different, but not altogether so. I think we place so much emphasis on how a guy does in very, very big games, and rightfully so if you’€™re talking about the greatest of all time, if you’€™re making that argument.

“I think it’€™s silly to say what happens in one game, this one game 20 years from now, is going to put Peyton Manning 18th on the mental all-time quarterback list, however you’€™d rank it, or fourth.”

For King, the argument against decreasing the value of Manning’€™s legacy on one game includes the potential for a worst-case scenario during Sunday’€™s game.

“Suppose that Manning puts up — take a number — 35 points,” King said. “And the Denver D just totally disintegrates and [Tom Brady] scores 45, and it’€™s a shootout and Brady wins.

“I just don’€™t think you can judge Peyton Manning based on you telling me, ‘€˜Well if he loses this game he is here in NFL history or he is there.’ … Whether he wins another Super Bowl or not, I will consider him among the top five who ever played, but I won’€™t consider him the greatest, because you’€™re right, a quarterback does have to win championships.”

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Read More: Champ Bailey, Chris Harris, Peter King, Peyton Manning
Peter King on M&M: Colts QB Andrew Luck ‘not been averse to making some huge mistakes’ 01.10.14 at 1:31 pm ET
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Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the NFL playoffs and other league news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Andrew Luck is drawing high praise as he leads the Colts into Foxboro for a divisional-round game Saturday night.

“I think most people look at him right now and think that he’s on his way to having a top-10, 20 quarterback career,” King said. “There’s a couple of reasons. He’s so precocious about the game, he knows so much about the game. His dad raised him in the game, because obviously his dad was a pro quarterback. I think he also learned the other side of the game also. He learned the team side, he learned you’re nothing without your teammates, and the media part of it doesn’t matter. ‘€¦ It’s just not in his pedigree right now to set himself apart from the crowd. So I think more than anything, Andrew Luck gets it.”

However, King said he isn’t convinced Luck will add to his growing legend Saturday.

“When you look back at his career, why I’m skeptical he’ll play one of his great games is, first of all, he’s gotten hit quite a bit this season, so I think the Patriots are probably going to be able to pressure him,” King said. “And secondly, I think if you take away T.Y. Hilton you’ll be able to do some good things against their passing game.

“He’s not been averse to making some huge mistakes. Look at the first half last week, where he was vastly outplayed by Alex Smith, then early in the third quarter. So, to me, I kind of look at him right now and just say I think he can be great any week. But I also think he’s going to still make mistakes ’cause he’s still learning the game.”

King said that this matchup could turn into a battle of the ground games.

“Everybody has sort of said, ‘If Andrew Luck can’t do it then they’re in huge trouble.’ But just look at Donald Brown — to me, anyway — in the last few weeks. He hasn’t run it a lot, but he’s run it very productively — high yards per rush; he’s averaged over five [5.3] for the year,” King said. “If I’m [offensive coordinator] Pep Hamilton and the Colts, I’m saying, look, I want Donald Brown and Trent Richardson to have very prominent roles in this game plan. In part because we’d like to keep it away from Tom Brady. And also in part because this team this year, the Patriots are vulnerable against the run. They’ve shown it week after week. They’re surrendering 4 1/2 a carry.

“And you understand because of the marquee value of quarterbacks, they’re making it out as an Andrew Luck-Tom Brady game. And it well could be. But I think it could also be a Donald Brown-Shane Vereen game as well. Or LaGarrette Blount.”

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Read More: Andrew Luck, Donald Brown, Drew Brees, Josh McDaniels
Peter King on M&M: ‘Julian Edelman has a chance in the postseason to burst into America’s living rooms’ 01.03.14 at 1:40 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss NFL news and expound on his prediction that the Patriots will win the Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

King predicts the Patriots to beat the Broncos in the AFC championship game and then win the Super Bowl over the Seahawks, with Julian Edelman earning MVP honors.

“The way I look at this postseason for New England, it’s going to be a continuation of Tom Brady making due with guys the way he’s done most of his career,” King said. “This is a redux of Troy Brown, the year that he caught all the balls. That’s the thing about this team.

“You know who kind of reminds me of Brady right now is Andrew Luck. If you look at Andrew Luck‘s last month, remember how he was a total lost sheep when he lost Reggie Wayne? They played poorly for about a month, and he couldn’t find a weapon. What happened is he adjusted. He got used to Griff Whalen and Da’Rick Rogers and a bunch of guys like that. Now he’s even throwing to Trent Richardson.

“I think what happens is you adjust to the personnel you have. Brady’s always done that. I think that Julian Edelman has a chance in the postseason to burst into America’s living rooms.”

Looking at the Patriots’ potential opponent next weekend, King said to keep an eye on the Bengals.

“I’d be afraid of Cincinnati, which is the team the Patriots are probably going to get,” King said. “I must say that I watched an awful lot of that game, too — the game earlier this year obviously when the Patriots went to Cincinnati and lost the game. And a lot of people will say, well, the torrential downpour and all that. And look, I don’t have a crystal clear memory of that. But the one thing I do remember is that for the first at least like 2 1/2 quarters it didn’t rain. It was kind of crummy weather but they were able to play. And I think if you look back at that game — I remember thinking about it — if I’m not mistaken, I think the Patriots punted like eight of their first 10 possessions or something in that game.

“I think that the Bengals, even without Geno Atkins — because remember, they lost Geno Atkins in that game — even the Bengals without Geno Atkins have been a very, very formidable foe for a lot of teams they’ve played. Look at the teams in the playoffs that Cincinnati has beaten. Even though they haven’t played maybe as tough a schedule as a team like San Diego, they’ve beaten New England, they’ve beaten Green Bay, they’ve beaten San Diego, they’ve beaten Indianapolis.

These Bengals, I wouldn’t predict them to go to Foxboro and win a game, but this is going to be one of the tougher divisional tests the Patriots that have faced.”

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Read More: Andy Dalton, Chris Kluwe, Geno Atkins, Josh McDaniels
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
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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.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, kyle orton, Peter King
Peter King on M&M: ‘I don’t think there’s anybody really to be afraid of in the AFC’ 12.20.13 at 1:23 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to preview Sunday’s Patriots-Ravens game and talk about other NFL news.

The Ravens had major personnel changes in the offseason, but King said they’ve started to return to their physical style the last few weeks.

“I think that what has happened over the years is that they have been able to be really physical and be able to run the ball very well, which is why this year is such a strange year for the Ravens,” King said. “It’s almost like they’ve changed this year — not because they wanted to change, but almost because they had to change, because they just simply cannot run the ball as well as they have been able to do so in the past.

“In the past they were obviously going to hand the ball to Ray Rice a lot, and they’re going to basically let him control a lot of these games. And I think a couple of things have made a difference this year. Recently they’ve been running the ball better, without any question. But I do think in general, missing Matt Birk [who retired] has hurt them. Marshal Yanda has not played nearly as well. Last year toward the end of the year they got really good play, solid play at the left tackle from Bryant McKinnie. They ended up having to trade for Eugene Monroe because McKinnie wasn’t playing as well there this year.

“Look, they’re better in the running game now than they were two months ago. But still, that’s not going to be quite the edge that the Ravens have had on the Patriots in the past.”

The Broncos appear headed for the top seed in the AFC playoffs, but King said the injury-riddled Patriots are right in the mix despite some recent struggles.

“One of the things I look at this year, as much as any other year in recent memory, is who’s going to be playing well in Week 15, 16, 17,” King said. “Now, obviously, I look at a team like the Denver Broncos and I say they very well might set all these records that you’re talking about for points scored and everything like that. But the fact is, they’re going to play teams that are really familiar with them in the playoffs. And San Diego was one of those teams — they’re not going to play San Diego in the playoffs — but San Diego is one of those teams that’s really familiar with them, knows how to play them. And basically really shut them down last week.

“I don’t think that there’s a team that you can look at in the month of January right now in the AFC where you say I can rely on them to play a certain way. I think it’s going to be absolutely wide open, which is why I think it’s a good year, if you’re thinking that the Patriots might overachieve in a particular year, this would be a great year for it. Because clearly you’re at the point where they’ve lost so many weapons on both sides of the ball that you say, well, you know, reload for next year. But not this year, because I don’t think there’s anybody really to be afraid of in the AFC.”

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Peter King on M&M: Matt Schaub to blame for collapse of Texans that cost Gary Kubiak his job 12.06.13 at 1:01 pm ET
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Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly Friday appearance on Mut & Merloni, minutes after the story broke that the Texans had fired coach Gary Kubiak.

“I think the Texans were seriously considering firing Kubiak after the first Jacksonville loss, but the problem was the schedule that was coming up — they’ve got the Patriots and then the Jaguars in a short week,” King said, adding: “I’ve felt strongly he was going to get fired for the last two weeks. Obviously he had an opportunity to save himself, but clearly he couldn’t save himself. And that’s what today is all about. You can’t lose to the Jaguars twice in 11 days and lose 11 games in a row and keep your job. It’s ridiculous. I don’t care what injuries they had. The fact is, this is a team that vastly underachieved this year.”

Added King: “The ownership felt like it’s time, we’ve given this guy more than enough time. And they have.”

King placed the majority of the blame for Houston’s collapse on quarterback Matt Schaub.

“You saw in Houston this year how much one single player can influence your franchise. And that one single player — throwing pick-sixes three weeks in a row — was Matt Schaub,” King said. “Matt Schaub imploded. And as nice a guy he is and as much as he’s done for that franchise, he is the guy that got this team on their death spiral.”

The Texans are loaded with talent, making this an appealing job, especially with them in line for a very high draft pick.

“If you have J.J. Watt coming back, you’ve got Brian Cushing coming back from injury ‘€¦ you’ve got the basis of a very good defense,” King said. “And you’ve got Andre Johnson. It looks like they’ll probably lose Ben Tate, whose a good running back, but they’ve got plenty — plenty — of talent on that team to contend in 2014. If you add [Louisville quarterback Teddy] Bridgewater to that team, they’re going to be very, very good.”

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Read More: Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Bill Belichick, Gary Kubiak
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