Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss Monday's Patriots-Texans matchup and news from around the NFL.
King said Monday's game is more important for the Patriots than the Texans. Houston leads the AFC at 11-1, with the 9-3 Patriots trying to close ground in the race for the conference's top seed.
"It's probably a little bit bigger for New England," King said. "Even if the Texans lose this game, they're still in line and would still be a prohibitive favorite to get at least one of the two first-round byes. Part of you might say, well, if they lose, all it takes in one loss in the two games to Indianapolis in the last three weeks for New England then to sneak in to win home field. But I've always thought this, that it's far more important to get one of the two first-round byes than it is to sell out and do everything you can to get the first seed.
"Everybody wants the first seed, but the most important thing we've seen in recent playoff history is that the home field is not the nirvana thing they way it used to be. What's most important is getting a week off so you can get some of your guys healthy."
The Texans have shown signs of weakness in the last three weeks -- needing overtime to beat the lowly Jaguars (43-37) and struggling Lions (34-31) -- but King said the fact that they have continued to win while not at their best should work in their favor.
"It's OK to question this team on defense after they gave up 37 to Jacksonville and 31 to Detroit, you can question that," King said. "But I would make two points about that, because I think that's probably the thing that most people look at and say this is really kind of a shadow great team. But I look at that and I say, OK, Jacksonville, that was just a weird, weird football game. And you can't get up for every game you play. So, you kind of say we'll give them a mulligan.
"Then they go on the road, they fly three days after playing a five-quarter game against Jacksonville. And then they go on the road and they play against Detroit, and Detroit's got to win that game to have any hope of making the playoffs. And they end up winning that game in overtime, too. They play 10 quarters in five days, and they win both games. So, I would look at that [as] even though they didn't play well on defense, I would look at that as more of a plus in saying what a good team they are rather than a minus.
"Keep in mind, I was looking at this the other day, three of the last five games they've allowed 10 points or less on defense. I still think this is a good defense. You're able to move on this defense, no question about it, and I think Tom Brady will do some things Monday. But I am a Texans believer."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On reports that the league is considering a suggestion from Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano to eliminate kickoffs: "It's not substantial. I had heard this last spring. This happened more than a year ago, when Schiano was still the coach at Rutgers, and Goodell had dinner with Urban Meyer, Greg Schiano and a bunch of guys and he asked them all any ideas they had to make the game better or to make the game safer or whatever, and people threw around ideas and that happened to be one of them. The fact that it came out in this [Time magazine] story is interesting, but it's not in any way a proposal that the NFL thinks is going to happen next year or even the year after, or that they even think is a good idea. … It's just an idea to keep talking about things to try to make the game safer and see how much you'd be losing without the kickoff.
"One other thing: Bill Belichick has said it on a couple of occasions, that the extra point is a totally useless part of the game of football -- which it is, it's idiotic, it should be eliminated, it should be changed. I couldn't agree with Belichick more on this. Over the last I think three years, 99.6 percent of all extra-point attempts have been successful. In essence, when 299 out of 300 plays are going to be 45 seconds of wasted time in a football game, why do it? So, I think that is much more likely in the next couple of years that we see a legitimate proposal to try to either eliminate the extra point or to change it to be something like, let's say for the sake of argument, to either make a coach commit right after a touchdown: Do you want seven points, or do you want six points and the opportunity to go for two? … There's some sentiment right now that people are actually going to start seriously discussing whether the extra point needs to be eliminated because it's a total waste of time."
On the NFL's problem with players and guns: "I don't know that there's much [commissioner Roger Goodell] can do. It's legal in the United States to own guns. The players in the NFL are American citizens. I'm sure, I'll bet you a lot of money, that there were some meetings at the NFL this week to ask -- and it's a question I have been asking some people around the league -- what, if anything, can you do? But at this point I think the only thing that really they can do is emphasize to players that they're going to be very, very tough if you're found to have used a gun illegally in the commission of any sort of incident."
On Jon Gruden's future: "He'll be back at ESPN, I think. … The thing that people need to understand about Gruden is that ESPN just nine months ago handed him basically the title of czar of Monday Night Football. He runs the meetings, he runs film sessions with producers, directors, everything like that. He runs the whole thing. They took Ron Jaworski out of the booth to give him an even bigger platform. And I think if he came to them and said, 'I want to go coach the San Diego Chargers' or whatever, I think they'd be furious, they'd be spitting mad. Whatever they would say publicly, they would be really upset at this. And I think he knows that they have basically invested a lot in him."
On the possibility of University of Oregon coach Chip Kelly taking an NFL job: "He's coaching in the NFL next year. I've been on that thing all along. The only reason he didn't coach in the NFL this year is that Oregon would not guarantee that his offensive coordinator [Mark Helfrich] would succeed him if he left. Oregon now has all but guaranteed that the offensive coordinator will succeed him. He's going to take the best job he can get out there."
Pete talks with The Senator, Phil Perry about the Patriots trading for Dwayne Allen, ruling out a return to New England for Martellus Bennett. They also talk about the potential future of Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo and some of the big names in NFL free agency
Pete, Thornton and Price give their final thoughts and predictions for the Super Bowl.
Gabe calls the boys to handicap one of the biggest gambling days of the year - Super Bowl 51! Gabe has all the point spread info down and gets to all of the major prop bets that interest him.
Kirk, Gerry, and Alex Reimer discuss whether or not Isaiah Thomas will win a title in Boston.
Gerry, Kirk, and Trenni react to the Celtics loss against the Suns.
The NBA trade rumor mill is beginning to swirl as the deadline approaches and Picard is ready to go! He talks about the possibility of Jimmy Butler coming to Boston, why Isaiah Thomas is not getting enough respect and the future of the Celtics.
Rob Bradford is joined by Drew Pomeranz, the Red Sox pitcher who so many are wondering if he will be able to live up the value placed on him by the Red Sox when trading away top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza last July. Pomeranz goes into detail regarding his injury last season, the stem cell treatment he underwent in the offseason, and how he thinks things stand heading into the 2017 campaign.
Rob Bradford is joined by Tom Caron, the man responsible for guiding the ship when it comes to Red Sox pregame and postgame shows, along with various other important duties with the New England Sports Network, including offering the play-by-play for both TV and radio throughout spring training. Tom and Rob discuss a variety of topics, such as nickname conundrums, radio vs. television, criticizing the team, behind-the-scenes for the broadcasts and where the industry is going.
Rob Bradford is joined by two-time All-Star outfielder Carlos Quentin, who is attempting a comeback with the Red Sox this spring. Quentin's path back to baseball involves almost quitting the game less than a year ago, losing 40 pounds and trying to sell himself to general managers all over Major League Baseball. Quentin explains his journey, which has led him to the back fields at JetBlue Park.
Kirk shared his feelings about the afternoon show.
Curtis finally shared his feelings on Dino.
Hour 4. The promos for Tanguay’s show are definitely more interesting than the promos for Holley’s show. Michelle DuBois tipped off illegal immigrants.
Lavar Ball totally calls into the show. No. Really.
HOUR 4 - The guys talked about Tuukka's rebound game last night against the Predators, Glenn had a squirrel moment when ESPN started talking about Joe Mixon, Tom Brady was compared to Kobe Bryant, and Holley says the Celtics can win the title.
HOUR 3 - Did Butler's camp screw up Butler's situation? Glenn exposes one of Fauria's verbal crutches. The guys try to come up with some new podcast names and ideas.
The NFL commissioner is claiming that he will attend the opener at Gilette Stadium next fall... does this put Deflategate to bed finally? Or will Roger find a way to duck out of his verbal commitment?
Dale, Michael and Rich Keefe discuss the Patriots off-season and it becomes a conversation about longevity for Brady and Belichick, and which will be around longer for this team.
Dale, Michael and Rich discuss our guest Michael Irvin being implicated in a sexual assault case - important to note that details are scarce at this time and no charges have been filed to this point.
Kirk Minihane, future radio hall of famer, sits down with current radio hall of famer Howie Carr. Kirk and Howie talk about Howie's latest book Kennedy Babylon. If you like famous people engaging in sex scandals, hard drug taking, and murder this is the podcast for you. Its a fascinating look at Boston's most famous family and the problems that took the family down.
Kirk Minihane, host and overlord of the morning show, brings Gerry Callahan and producers Chris and Ken into the studio to hear his show proposal. Kirk is thinking about making some changes to the morning show and wants to hear his crew's opinion.
SI's Richard Deitsch returns to the podcast to talk with Kirk about the K&C casting couch, how ESPN wimps out when they are called out for slander, what's going on with Bill Simmons, and the rise of podcasting.
Ken Laird and Chris Curtis have the Tuesday & Wednesday recap from the K&C show, including Kirk's epic rant at Dale & Holley with Keefe.
Rich Keefe is joined by Dale Arnold and Ben Kichen to preview WrestleMania 33. Is it a good card? What will be the best match? Plus Ryan Davey is in for "This Week in #DORK" with a look a couple new trailers and the always great "Black Panther Reads #DORK iTunes Reviews."
Christian Fauria and Dr Gill go over the difficulties of staying healthy through the long grind of the playoffs in the NBA and in the NHL.
Hour 2. Kirk responds to Keefe’s shot at him. Alex says America is to blame for 9/11 in Headlines. Alex says the U.S. should let as many people in as possible.More from this show
Hour 4. Trenni, Kirk, and Gerry discuss the upcoming Red Sox season. Michael Irvin is being investigated for sexual assault, again. Renee Graham, from the Globe, thinks Michael Che is right about Boston being racist.More from this show
Hour 2. Trenni, Gerry, and Kirk discuss Joe Mixon’s draft chances. A horrible hazing story from Texas is the topic in headlines. Keefe responded to Kirk (kind of).More from this show
Hour 3. Trenni battles Gerry on immigration. Joe Mixon’s future is discussed. Curtis will get a second chance at music trivia on Friday.More from this show
Hour 1. Roger Goodell is going to New England, Belichick wore the same clothes, and O’Reilly commented on Maxine Waters’ hair. Renee Graham, from the Boston Globe, thinks Boston is racist.More from this show