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."
Daniel Jeremiah calls NFL Sunday to preview the NFL Draft and discuss what the New England Patriots will be looking to do starting Thursday night.
In hour 2 of NFL Sunday, we get more draft talk from Price and Dickerson. They discuss if the Pats will trade up or down at all or what they can get by staying put. Also, what does the RB position look like for New England? We hear from Daniel Jeremiah from the NFL Network and NFL.com and get his thoughts on the NFL draft and what the Patriots will do. Finally, the boys talk about the Greg Hardy situation in Dallas.
It's finally the week of the NFL Draft and the guys are psyched. They kick off the show discussing the release of the NFL schedule and how they expect the Pats to do against a relatively easy road for the Super Bowl champs. Greg and Chris talk about any difficult match-ups and if any teams in the AFC East can contend with the Patriots. Then the boys move on to the Draft and where the Pats may go. WEEI.com's Mike Petraglia joins the program to discuss his thoughts on the upcoming draft, the Pats needs and his ideas on why the Patriots may in fact trade up this season.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox super utility man Brock Holt, who hit the game winning 3 run home run that propelled the Red Sox over the Baltimore Orioles, and played some stellar defense to seal the win.
Continued Red Sox talk on benching Victorino and the Red Sox pitching issues..and Sean's love for the band Poison.
Dale and Michael check in with the Red Sox manager John Farrell for his weekly take on all things Boston Red Sox.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
DJ, Naoko and Pete get into the huge week for the Bruins that saw the franchise move on from GM Peter Chiarelli. They discuss why that was done and if they agree. What does this mean for Claude? They talk about Claude and if he can exist here. If not, who would work in Boston? They also get into the NHL Draft Lottery last night and talk to ESPN Boston's Joey "National" McDonald live from Tampa, Florida.
Stephen A. expressed his thoughts on Tom Brady's White House snub and Floyd Mayweather's past.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane.
The guys discussed Kevin Love and the Celtics.
Sparks flew in the final game of the series as the Cavaliers swept Boston. Kelly Olynyk got tied up with Kevin Love and dislocated his shoulder. Love called the move "bush league." JR Smith was ejected for punching Jae Crowder in the face as well, and could face subsequent discipline from the league.
Led by Christian Fauria, the guys delve into 5 topics relating to all the hometown teams. There is a new intro by a special guest, plus Lou Merloni, DJ extraordinaire, nails the post.
The guys debate whether or not the Celtics even have a chance against the Cavs in game 4 and what the mentality of fans should be.
Michael, Jerry and Dale speak with draft guru Todd McShay of ESPN for some insight on what the Patriots might do in the upcoming draft.
We talk to Baxter Holmes of ESPN.com and discuss his column on Rajon Rondo from ESPN and ESPN the Magazine.
Dale and Michael discuss some news on deflategate as the 100 day mark approaches us.
Mikey, Lenny, and Erin talk about the Sox 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Patriots Day and the Sox hold on first place in the AL East. Also, the Celtics trail the Cavs 1 Game to 0 in their 1st Round series and the 2015 Boston Marathon is in the books.
Mikey Adams, joined by Lenny Megliola and Chris Villani, talks about the Red Sox home opening win at Fenway and the Bruins fallout after missing the playoffs including the future of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Football fans and Fantasy Footballers know that there is NO Offseason in the NFL, so Jim and Pete are back with the first of a series of Fantasy Football Podcasts of the “NFL Draft variety.” Tune in and you’ll get an in depth analysis on Pete’s most first batch of scouting reports on this year’s crop of Rookie Targets. Jim and Pete kick it off with a lot of focus on a Runningback rich draft class, some of the top Wide Receiver talent and touch on the top Quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Enjoy!
Uncle Buck joins Chris on the show again to talk about Raw from 4/20, finishing maneuvers and gives a few classic match picks.
Ben and Sam are joined by Julian Edlow from WEEI.com to give their predictions on every series in the NBA Playoffs.
Dale and Michael discuss some news on deflategate as the 100 day mark approaches us.More from this show
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Dale, Michael and Jerry dissect one of the most ridiculous columns we've seen come down the pike in awhile.More from this show
We listen in on the Patriots Super Bowl visit to the White House, and then discuss why MVP Tom Brady was not in attendance.More from this show