|Peter King on M&M: ‘Denver this weekend has a few too many answers for what New England can do defensively’||11.22.13 at 12:54 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Sunday night’s Patriots-Broncos showdown and the controversial ending to Monday night’s Patriots loss to the Panthers.
King said Sunday’s game is more important to the Patriots, who are in danger of finishing out of the top two seeds in the AFC.
“The most important thing at stake the rest of the year is that bye week at the start of the playoffs,” King said. “If you’re the third seed or the fourth seed, that becomes a pretty big deal, in my opinion. It makes you play that first week and everything. Obviously if you’re one of the first two seeds you get that week off.”
The Broncos are coming off a victory over the previously undefeated Chiefs this past Sunday, and they play Kansas City again a week after meeting the Patriots. King said that presents a major challenge, but he’s still going with Denver on Sunday.
“Kansas City, sandwiching this game for Denver, playing them two out of three weeks, I think that makes this a really troublesome game for Denver,” King said. “Even though I like Denver in the game, if I’m looking at this game, the thing that’s the biggest disadvantage is you’re having to face a really good team twice in 15 days, sandwiched around this game. So, I think Denver’s road is tougher. I just think Denver this weekend has a few too many answers for what New England can do defensively.”
The big story in the NFL this week was the controversial finishing to Monday’s game, when the officials picked up a flag thrown for interference on Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly on the game’s final play, giving the Panthers a 24-20 victory.
“Let’s make three points about this,” King said. “No. 1, I think that Clete Blakeman did a very bad job after the play in not explaining what happened. You owe it to the coaches in the game, you owe it to the teams in the game, and you owe it to millions of people watching on TV. All we could do was guess what the crew ruled. That was absurd to not have any idea why they ruled what it is they ruled, but to be less guessing. That’s No. 1.
|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|
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.”
|Peter King on M&M: Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito situation ‘sounds almost like it’s the battered-wife syndrome’||11.08.13 at 1:17 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about the disturbing situation with the Dolphins as well as Patriots news.
The Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin saga seems to take a new turn every day, with Incognito getting support from teammates after being suspended by the team for his treatment of his fellow offensive lineman.
“It’s too easy to say Incognito ought to be sentenced to 10 years with Miss Manners or something, or to say Martin is wrong — or one of them is wrong, one of them is right. There’s fault on each side,” King said. “Honestly, I can’t get past Incognito and the name-calling. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what other walk of life, what sort of band of brothers [in which] it’s OK to call a person with one white parent and one black parent a half-N-word. I can’t get past that.”
The Dolphins organization has been criticized for its handling of the matter, but King said management might have been in the dark as to the extent of the problem because Martin apparently was hesitant to address it with anyone.
“That’s the problem here — I don’t know that he ever did. I’m not sure that Jonathan Martin went to any person in the organization,” King said, adding, “It sounds almost like it’s the battered-wife syndrome, where you don’t want to tell anybody because you think that’s just going to make it worse.”
Looking at the future for the players, King said he thinks both will return to the league.
“If Richie Incognito is cut at some point and he serves whatever suspension he’s served either by the Dolphins or the league, if he has the ability to come back at any point this year, in my opinion, I think he’ll be signed by a playoff contender, and I think he’ll play down the stretch,” King said. “There might be some guys who look at him like, ‘We’ll go on the field together, but don’t talk to me. I don’t want to know you.’ But I think that football, and contending in football, and the NFL playoffs, and stories like this, they make strange bedfellows. And I think that a desperate team that might need a guard is going to call him.
“Having said that, you ask about Martin, Martin is one of those guys who, he is going to play football somewhere, and he’s going to be welcomed back by a segment of the locker room, but there’s also going to be a segment of whatever team he goes to who’s going to think he’s a rat. And that’s all there is to it — fair, unfair, whatever. You know that guys in NFL locker rooms now are going to brand this guy as somebody who went outside the family to share his problems and to try to get his problems fixed.
“You and I and any normal person outside NFL locker rooms would say, what kind of help is he going to get, what kind of relief is he going to get telling Richie Incognito, ‘Hey, please stop picking on me.’ Or stop laughing about it, and all that. I think he will go back, but I think it will be a tough road for him.”
|Peter King on M&M: Tom Brady ‘just going to have to gut out whatever he has with his hand’||11.01.13 at 1:21 pm ET|
Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Friday for his weekly discussion about Patriots and NFL news.
The Patriots acquired defensive lineman Isaac Sopoaga from the Eagles at Tuesday’s trade deadline. King said the move is worth the low risk.
“Clearly in compensation, draft choice and money, it’s not going to cost you very much,” King said. “The Patriots needed some buttressing along the defensive line, although I think they have to be happy with how their two young free agents [Joe Vellano, Chris Jones] have played. So I don’t think it was essential. But I think they figured that if we can do it, why not?”
There have been reports that Tom Brady is playing with an injured throwing hand, but the quarterback won’t elaborate on it.
“The only thing that I’ve heard is just what everybody has heard, that he’s got some hand soreness,” King said. “Obviously, as you know, the last person who is going to admit anything is [Brady]. If his arm was hanging on by its shoulder tendon, he would say, ‘Hey, my arm’s fine, my shoulder feels great.’ So, you’re just not going to hear. I think he’s going to have to just gut out whatever he has with his hand.”
|Peter King on M&M: ‘Lot of concern around Miami about their offense’||10.25.13 at 1:30 pm ET|
Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon to talk about the Patriots’ matchup against the Dolphins on Sunday.
After a promising start, the Dolphins have lost three games in a row and head to Gillette Stadium with a 3-3 record.
“They’ve lost three in a row, and it isn’t just the fact they’ve lost, it’s the fact of how they’ve lost,” King said. “Especially because Ryan Tannehill, it’s been a tale of two seasons for him. If he doesn’t straighten out — there’s a lot of thought in Miami that he just isn’t right health-wise. He hasn’t looked like the quarterback in the last couple of weeks that he did early on.
“And they’ve been having some big protection issues. If you saw what Mario Williams did to him late in that game [when the Bills beat the Dolphins this past Sunday]. I think there’s a lot of concern around Miami about their offense.”
King expects the Dolphins to try to establish more of a ground game Sunday in Foxboro.
“They’re going to have to run it this week, because I just don’t see them being able to protect Tannehill,” King said. “You talk about what the Patriots are missing, but still, [the Dolphins] have not shown the ability in this season to block the best pass rushers. I think if you’re Rob Ninkovich, you’re looking at this team right now, if you’re Chandler Jones, you’re looking at this team and say, ‘Boy, people have been able to rush the passer.’ Mario Williams [had] two huge plays in the last seven minutes of the game last week.
“So, to me, I sort of look at them right now and say this is — it’s hard to say ‘must game’ or anything like that — but they’ve got to come out of this offensive funk and play better on offense.”
Looking at league news, King said there’s not much to the report that the Rams expressed interest in Brett Favre, who has been out of the league for two-plus seasons.
“Favre, I can tell you this, since the start of the 2012 season he’s had less than zero interest,” King said. “The biggest reason is he just doesn’t want to get hit anymore. Everybody knows he can still throw it better than a lot of these guys, and I’m sure he could put a game or two together. But I just think it would be a big mistake for anybody to come after him, unless it was an offense he already knew, a quarterback coach he already knew, and they had a chance to contend. But he’s not going to come back anyway. I don’t think it would matter if the 49ers or Seahawks called him.”
|Peter King on M&M: ‘More confident right now’ in Patriots offense’s ability to win a game||10.18.13 at 2:10 pm ET|
Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about news from Foxboro and around the NFL.
The Patriots are coming off a dramatic 30-27 victory over the Saints that ended with Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass with five seconds remaining, a comeback that King called “just a tremendously fun moment in time.”
King exchanged e-mails with Brady after the game and said Brady was excited to talk about the win and expressed enjoyment about the play of the new receivers.
“The one takeaway I have from that exchange is that while a lot of us on the outside probably think that he’s upset about the caliber of player who he’s playing with on offense, the skill players, how they haven’t really built up the depth at the skill positions befitting a guy like Brady, I think in a lot of ways I get a sense that he views it as tremendously fun to be able to beat a great team like New Orleans with three of the four guys on the field in the last minute of that game who he didn’t even know six months ago,” King said. “Sure, he knew [Julian Edelman]. But Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Austin Collie — that’s three of the four receivers he had on the field on the biggest drive of the season so far for the Patriots. I find that really compelling.”
Touching on the Rob Gronkowski situation, King said he had no special insight, but he’s led to believe that Gronkowski has been advised to be careful about rushing back so that he doesn’t cost himself big money in the long run.
“I think they’ve done a really good job of keeping that in-house,” King said. “But there’s just something about this story that it just leads me to believe that Rob Gronkowski and those around him do not want him to take the field with all of the money he has due in upcoming years. They don’t want him to turn into damaged goods so that he blows all this money that he’s going make starting next year. So, I think that has a lot to do with this.”
Added King: “I do think that if a guy is out practicing, and practicing at a very, very high level, which he has been doing for a month, and then not playing in the games — most often when that happens, when a guy is practicing at a very high level, he goes and plays in the games. Everybody has some form of injury, they’re hurt in some way. And again, I don’t know the whole story with him. I don’t. But the fact is, if you practice as well as he’s been practicing for a month and then don’t play, you’re obviously going to have a lot of eyebrows raised about why you’re not playing.”
|Peter King on M&M: If Rob Gronkowski remains out for Patriots, ‘I don’t know that they can make the playoffs’||10.11.13 at 1:48 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Patriots and the Rob Gronkowski situation as well as other NFL news, incuding the controversy over the Redskins nickname.
With the latest report that Gronkowski still is having concerns about his surgically repaired right forearm, there is speculation that the tight end’s return to game action might be delayed some more. King said this could prove to be the Patriots’ undoing.
“Rob Gronkowski only has X number of snaps left in his body the rest of his career,” King said. “Obviously, everybody does. But I think he has a limited number of snaps in his body. He came into the league an injury question, and he has continued to be an injury question. Even though he’s played an awful lot, you’re always wondering is he going to break his forearm, is he going to have some neck problem or back problem, whatever?”
Added King: “At some point, he’s got to start playing or else we aren’t even going to be talking about eking into the playoffs, even as a fifth or sixth seed. I’m not positive about that, because you look at their schedule and it’s certainly possible. But I don’t know, if they have a gimpy [Danny] Amendola, and Gronkowski doesn’t play this year, I don’t know that they can make the playoffs. Even though, as I said, they have a manageable schedule.”
King said Belichick has to consider the risk of playing Gronkowski, especially with the Patriots coming off a loss and struggling to keep up with the top teams in the AFC.
“The only thing that’s going to matter to Bill Belichick, the only thing that matters to these fans is, what’s going to happen now?” King said. “To me, without Rob Gronkowski this week, unless they force two or three turnovers of the Saints, I don’t like their chances at all.
“To me, I think they’re facing a team that, like Denver — they’re kind of Denver Jr. right now. They’re not scoring at the pace Denver scores, but they’ve proven, outside, inside, wherever, that they can play defense now. So you’re going to have to get into a bit of a scoring contest with Drew Brees. And with what appeared to me to be last week Danny Amendola not at 100 percent, and obviously [Tom] Brady still getting comfortable with his guys, without Gronkowski I think it’s going to be a very tough game for them to win.”
King said he suspects Brady is frustrated with the organization’s inability to provide him with the receivers needed to be more competitive.
“Just reading the tea leaves and knowing Tom, last year — last whatever it was, February or March — he did — even though a lot of people subjected this to much derision — he did the Patriots a huge favor. He redid his contract to give them massive cap relief over the next couple of years, and clearly thought that they were going to have better weapons than they have now,” King said. “I haven’t gone back and looked, but I have to believe that over the first five weeks of the season, that as a crew this has to be the worst weaponry Brady has had since he’s become the starting quarterback of the team.
“It may turn out to be not that way. Kenbrell Thompkins might turn out to be a really good weapon; he looked like he was going to be that way in camp. But obviously, Brady thought that there was going to be more help, the cavalry was going to arrive. It hasn’t.
“I would only assume — and it’s an assumption, it’s no knowledge — I would only assume that he’s got to be very frustrated not only with the process of Gronkowski’s health but with the fact that he gave them this massive salary cap relief and he’s playing with a group of guys that clearly don’t compare to most of the teams he’s going to play against this year.”
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