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."
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick joins Dale and Steve DeOssie to talk about cutting the roster down to 53 players. Jimmy Garoppolo is set to start and play most, if not all of the preseason contest against the Giants. Bill also expressed his thoughts about the kicking game and how some of the new rules have affected the importance of it.
WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia and Chris Price discuss the news that Jimmy Garoppolo will get the start Thursday and play most of the game. They talk about what it might mean for Ryan Mallett.
Julian Edelman joins Christian and Danny Picard to talk about his approach going into the season, his performance this preseason, as well as the VMAs, and preventing cramps using mustard.
Jackie Mac joins the guys to discuss her thoughts on a possible mid-season tournament in the NBA, LeBron's return to Cleveland, trade rumors with the Celtics and Red Sox, and Darrelle Revis' contract situation.
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN Boston to talk about the Lebron James Saga, the possibility of Rajon Rondo being traded, and the future of Marcus Smart.
Former coach of Celtics 1st-round pick Marcus Smart, Travis Ford joins MFB to talk about what Celtics fans should expect from the strong point guard. Among other things, Coach Ford says Smart will be a hard worker, and will improve his shooting ability.
Red Sox Manager John Farrell talks about Bogaerts' concussion and the youth movement.
As he does every Wednesday, Buster Olney, ESPN, joins the boys of MFB to talk baseball. This week Buster shed some light on what to expect from Rusney Castillo, and how Cuban players are being viewed. He suggests that the acquisition of Castillo helps Boston's chances to get Giancarlo Stanton. Also, the Sox should shut down Koji if they want to re-sign him.
Kevin Millar checks in to talk about the Castillo signing, Giancarlo Stanton, and the MLB's pace of play.
Rob Bradford is joined by WEEI.com Bruins beat writer DJ Bean, as well as Boston sports fan/blogger Turtleboy to talk all things Bruins free agency. With the B's recent moves, the conversation turns to where the Bruins might next turn and what kind of dent losing Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton might make.
DJ discusses Shawn Thornton's new deal, and the on going negotiations with Jerome Iginla
DJ Bean joins the program to dismiss the recent rumors that the Bruins are in discussions to trade Brad Marchand to the Sharks for Patrick Marleau
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Times discussed the Logan Mankins deal.
Chris Nowinski discussed the future of Wes Welker.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Buck.
Tim talks about the city of Las Vegas attempting to get an NHL franchise. Lou wards off "huge" bat. Christian winds up in the dog house again, for what happened on MFB yesterday.
After Will Middlebrooks struck out against a position player, Steve Tolleson, last night against Toronto, he seemed to be laughing as he left the batter's box. Lou critiqued Middlebrooks on Twitter, which caused Will's fiance Jenny Dell to tweet (indirectly) in defense of her man.
Red Sox Manager talks about Xander's concussion and the youth movement on the Red Sox.
Josh Gordons suspension was upheld. Why is there such a stigma about weed in sports?
Today we discuss the four most famous Pats players that Bill Belichick surprisingly dealt away.
Co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, talks about his Sam Adams beer and the history of his brewery.
Danny picard is filling in for Mikey and talks with CSNNE's Mike Giardi about Clay Buchholz heading up the Red Sox pitching rotation, and how the Patriots have looked through training camp so far.
Mut and Villani are talking about whether the Red Sox will give Jon Lester the type of contract he is looking for, or whether they might be shopping him with rumors of the Red Sox scouting Cole Hamels.
How can teams acquire players who are entering their primes without having to live through the potentially massive transition of prospects coming from the minors to the big leagues? The Red Sox have two such case studies. The signing of Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo represents one effort to acquire a player for his prime years for whom the transition to big league-caliber competition might not be turbulent. Red Sox assistant director of player personnel discusses the scouting process involved with landing Castillo. The episode also features Brock Holt, the one rookie who played at a consistently high level for the Red Sox this year. Holt explores some of the distinctions that might help to explain why he did not experience some of the struggles that characterized the seasons of Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Rob Bradford is joined by Turtleboy of TurtleboySports.com to discuss which current major leaguers might be in line to become Hall of Famers. The duo dive into the difficulties facing the current crop of big leaguers when trying to reach Hall of Fame status.
Fantasy Football Drafts are now happening every day, so Pete Davidson and Jim Hackett have you covered. This Podcast focuses on the High Value Targets you can get in your drafts if you draft smartly. These players can slip to you and make a great impact on your roster as the season moves on. The draft is won in the middle to late rounds when the best upside players are taken. Jim and Pete give you in depth analysis on the High Value Targets to seek along with the Rookies that can make an impact this year. Jim and Pete will be back this Sunday morning too, on-air at WEEI FM 93.7 with even more. Prepare and enjoy!
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