Sports Illustrated NFL columnist Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni and discused the final weekend of the regular season and the playoff picture.
The Patriots have an outside shot at the No. 1 seed in the AFC and the home-field advantage that comes with it, but King noted the lack of importance regarding home playoff games in recent history.
"I would argue, after the last seven years, what really does home field mean?" King said. "You had a 6 seed seven years ago, the Steelers, win the Super Bowl. You had the Giants twice go on the road for a total of five games in January, win them all and go on to win the Super Bowl. You had the Packers a couple of years ago as a 6 seed go on the road for all three games in the playoffs. So, I'm not really sure what home field means.
"I think what is important at this time of year is who's playing the best. I would much rather be the New England Patriots traveling to Houston, right now, than the Houston Texans hosting the playoffs. Because the Patriots are playing so much better than Houston right now."
The Patriots also could be eliminated from contention for one of the AFC's top two seeds by the time they take the field Sunday at 4:25 to play the Dolphins. However, King said it's unlikely they'd sabotage the game, even if dropping to the fourth spot might give them what appears to be easier matchups in the first two rounds.
Said King: "Honestly, think about it for a second. If you're sitting there, and you're the New England Patriots right now, and if this were even going through their mind -- 'Hey, let's lose so that Baltimore can jump over us' -- it's hard for me to imagine that especially Tom Brady would come out and blister his team in Jacksonville for playing poorly and then on the last game of the year go out and either purposely lay an egg or play Ryan Mallett and call plays that they hope don't work.
"It's just very hard. Even if Ryan Mallett were to play, it's very hard to try to lose a game. And I'd be very surprised if the Patriots did it."
Touching on the situation with the struggling Jets and Friday's New York Daily News report that Rex Ryan will ask the team to spend some money this offseason to fix the offense or else find another coach, King said Ryan isn't the quitting type.
"Watching Rex Ryan over the last month of so since the Patriots handed him his lunch on Thanksgiving, watching him day to day and listening to what he's saying in talking to the press and talking publicly, he's a different guy," King said. "He's totally chastened. It's like he's a beaten dog. That's what he sounds like to me.
"As I look at him, I basically say, this is not him. And there's no question in my mind that whoever the general manager is, whatever happens, early in this offseason he's going to say to [owner] Woody Johnson, he's going to say to the personnel brain trust -- Terry Bradway, Mike Tannenbaum and whoever else is brought in -- 'You have got to beef up this offense. We have been playing with a minor league wide receiver corps this whole year, just an average-at-best running back in Shonn Greene, an offensive line that's way too leaky, and quarterbacks who stink. Figure it out or else please do me a favor and put me out of my misery.' But Rex Ryan is from the old school. He ain't quitting. I guarantee you that.
"I don't really think he wants to be fired. I think what he wants is for this thing to get fixed. Being in New York, Woody Johnson has to realize now that he's got to find some way, whether it be free agency or through the draft, he's got to find some way to get better on offense fast."
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