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."
Giardi and Price discuss the mega deal that CB Josh Norman signed with Washington and if he is worth it. They also relate it to the Pats and Malcolm Butler. Does the Norman deal mean that Butler is about to cash in and will the Pats go along for the ride? This leads to a discussion on other players the Patriots need to extend very soon.
Danny Vitale, the SuperBack - a fullback/TE hybrid type - joins GIardi and Price on NFL Sunday to discuss the process of entering the NFL Draft, the combine and interviewing with various NFL teams including your New England Patriots.
With the NFL draft only a few days away, Mike and Chris preview how things are shaping for the Pats and the rest of the league. It will be a strange this year since they don't have a first round pick - how will Belichick and company approach this dilemma? Also, would the Pats contemplate the idea of trading Jimmy G?
Kevin O'Connor of CelticsBlog joined Sam Packard and Jared Weiss for a breakdown of what went wrong in the Celtics series against the Hawks. they then played Celtics free agent tinder and looked ahead to the big moves in store for the offseason.
It wouldn't be a Celtics v Hawks Game 6 preview/Game 5 breakdown without ESPN's Celtics Whisperer Chris Forsberg joining Sam Packard and Jared Weiss for some WEEI Studio magic. They discuss the Hawks' transition dominance on their mega runs and the bizarre night for Isaiah Thomas. Of course they also answered your #WEEICeltics Tweet Bag questions!
The boys recap Marcus Smart and Paul Millsap's incredible battle in the Celtics' Game 4 win over the Atlanta Hawks with ESPN's Chris Forsberg. Jared Weiss and Sam Packard discussed Jared Sullinger's struggles and the reemergence of Machine Bun Kelly. They discuss inside media stuff like when to applaud for honorees and Chris' devotion to southern unsweetened tea. Of course they answered your #WEEICeltics Tweet Bag questions too.
Red Sox third base/infield coach Brian Butterfield joined Rob Bradford to get his take on Hanley Ramirez, Travis Shaw and Pablo Sandoval. Butterfield, an avid Patriots fan, also predicts who the Pats might take in the second round, while giving a very pointed message to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Joe and Tim talk with Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia after he had a two home run game, one of which was a grand slam that propelled the Red Sox to a 9-4 win over the Atlanta Braves
We sit down with the Skipper of the Sox, manager John Farrell joins Dale, Holley and Thornton for his weekly visit.
DJ and Pete continue to assess the season that was for the Bruins and look toward the future for the franchise and how they can improve.
DJ and Pete are together for the final Sunday Skate of the season. They get into their overall thoughts on the season, the Bruins keeping Claude Julien on as head coach and the end-of-season press conferences last week. They discuss the rebuild process, what the Bruins need and how they can obtain it. Plenty of callers have their own theories and opinions on all of these topics as well.
Butch is joined by two-thirds of the Sunday Skate show in DJ and Pete. The guys discuss the problems with Bruins including leadership and grit, who should stay and who should go and if Claude is to blame.
Lucy calls in to talk about her podcast and the "More Than Mean" tweets. The guys are now big fans.
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Dino, Gerry and Kirk discuss what the Patriots will be looking for on the second day of the draft.
After forfeiting their 1st round pick, the Pats get to join the party and draft some new young talent. The guys look at who the team might select over the weekend.
Kirk took more shots at Glenn, Lou and Christian, so the midday show guys respond.
Glenn, Lou and Christian talk about how much money Laremy Tunsil lost when his Twitter, Instagram, and iPhone photos were hacked. The gang also addresses some ESPN on ESPN crime as Dan LeBetard took a few shots at Todd McShay.
We continue to talk NFL Draft, Brady's new lawyer, the Celtics playoff bouncing, Roger Goodell's award tour and more... its all on the table on a freestyle friday.
We discuss the hiring of a top notch litigator by Brady and the NFLPA, and how it might have been sparked by Roger Goodell's neverending award tour where he continues to spew lies and half-truths to the public.
We discuss the Celts exit from the playoffs, the steps they took this season to be better, and what steps need to be taken to keep getting better in the future.
It’s all about the music – the crew touches on Prince, and the greatest bands of all time
Mikey, Christian Arcand, and Chris Villani talk about the Sox horrific loss today, and MJ takes over the text line
Mikey, Christian Arcand, and Chris Villani talk about the Sox horrific loss today, plus they’re joined by Cassie, the Textress
The Revolution continue to sputter but all of a sudden Ben & Russ have switched their opinions on how they look. They also address the upcoming Copa America Centenario.
Schill joins Dino, Gerry and Kirk after his controversial Facebook post sparked outrage on social media.More from this show
Sausage tells the guys that he's moving onto greener (read: more lucrative) pastures. His potential replacement, Paul, is interviewed for the job.More from this show
As predicted, ESPN canned Curt Schilling regarding the North Carolina transgender laws. Glenn and Lou react.More from this show
Tomase calls in to defend his take on Curt Schilling being dismissed from ESPN.More from this show