“There’s not high drama about the 12 playoff teams…At this point, it’s about jockeying for position and home-field.” – King on the playoff race
“When your offense is lagging, it spells trouble for January football. I keep thinking Bill Belichick is going to lobby Robert Kraft for Antonio Brown. Very soon.” – King on the Patriots
“The hero of the day is the Steelers coach who kept the focus on football, Mike Tomlin.” – King on the Steelers win over the Browns
“I actually gained more respect for San Francisco having to go on the road in tough conditions…I wouldn’t want to play them.” – Rodney Harrison on the Patriots on The Mike Tirico Podcast
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 2, 2019 – Peter King discusses how the playoff picture is shaping up as the NFL enters the final quarter of the regular season in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, who converted the game-winning field goal against the 49ers, hands out his Week 13 awards and reacts to the rest of the NFL weekend.
Additionally, across NBC Sports, on The Mike Tirico Podcast, Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Mike Florio recap Week 13, while Florio and Chris Simms break down all of the action across the NFL on PFT Live and Chris Simms Unbuttoned.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
King: “There’s not high drama about the 12 playoff teams, other than Pittsburgh and Tennessee dueling for the AFC’s sixth seed, and wondering if the psycho Rams can conquer a tough stretch run to sneak in, and, well, someone’s got to win the NFC East…At this point, it’s about jockeying for position and home-field.”
King on the 49ers: “The 49ers pretty easily could fall from 1 to 5 in the NFC. A Seattle win tonight would put them there entering the last four weeks.”
King on the Patriots: “The defense, compared to the 8-0 start, is mortal. It’s allowed 21 points a game, on average, over the last four weeks. Not bad. Except when your offense is lagging, it spells trouble for January football. I keep thinking Bill Belichick is going to lobby Robert Kraft for Antonio Brown. Very soon.”
King on the Packers: “A 3-1 finish gets them to 12-4, the third seed at worst, and, if third, a likely winter wonderland game at Lambeau against (Kirk) Cousins or Jared Goff on the first weekend of January.”
King on the Titans: “I think they’ve found a formula. Conservative passing game, power running game, and ridiculously good special teams. A game behind Houston entering the home stretch, the Titans probably have to sweep the Texans in Weeks 15 and 17 to win the AFC South.”
King: “The Steelers aren’t as good as Baltimore, and they might not make the playoffs even. But that was one hell of a day for the team and the city and the coach (and the Duck [Devlin Hodges]), the 20-13 win over Cleveland.”
King on the Steelers’ victory over the Browns: “The hero of the day is the Steelers coach who kept the focus on football, Mike Tomlin…Tomlin made this day about one thing and one thing only: football.”
Joe Haden on Mike Tomlin: “He always keeps it very black and white. All week, his message was: Stop the run, contain Odell and Landry [receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry] and just play ball – they don’t like us, we don’t like them, who cares, just play.”
King on Maurkice Pouncey’s suspension “The loss of (Maurkice) Pouncey, their unquestioned leader, hurt. Tomlin understood why he came to the defense of his quarterback when attacked by (Myles) Garrett and actually appreciated it, even though he didn’t say that publicly. The team knew. Pouncey knew…After the game, the Steelers had Pouncey FaceTimed into their post-game locker-room huddle.”
Haden: “Then Coach T took the ball and said, ‘I’m bringing this to Maurkice.’ That was big for our team.”
King on Ravens kicker Justin Tucker converting the game-winning field goal vs. the 49ers: “There’s something about (Justin) Tucker that makes you say, I want that guy on my team…He was happy, but not blown away with emotion. This is his job, and he’s the most accurate kicker ever, and he knows there will be other kicks this big. And bigger.”
Tucker to King about his last-second kick: “I focus on the action of the kick, not consequences. Honestly, as the clock ran down, I’m just hoping the ball’s the spotted at the 32…Fifty’s a nice round number. And there’s slightly more glory making a 50-yarder than 49.”
King on the Texans: “You never know whether a game is just a game, or if it’s something more. The 28-22 Houston victory over New England felt like more.”
King: “In the Houston locker room after the game, Deshaun Watson, the third-year quarterback and no-doubt team leader, took it on himself to give (Bill) O’Brien the game ball. Those in the room said O’Brien was emotional about it.”
King on the Bills: “The Bills will win a playoff game in January. (One asterisk: As long as game one is not in Kansas City.)”
King’s five coaches who may be in trouble after Week 13 losses: “Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland; Doug Marrone, Jacksonville; Pat Shurmur, New York Giants; Matt Patricia, Detroit; & Ron Rivera, Carolina.”
King on 2020 NFL Draft: “I think the results of the weekend made the first two picks of the April 2020 draft so easy. The 1-11 Bengals, picking first as it stands now, go for LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. The 2-10 Giants, picking second, nab Ohio State pass-rusher Chase Young.”
KING’S WEEK 13 AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams, Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee, & Taysom Hill, New Orleans.
King on Tannehill: “Now 5-1 since taking over for the benched Marcus Mariota on Oct. 20, Tannehill continued the rebuild of his career with a 31-17 win at Indianapolis…This run-first offense with a game-manager under center is working wonders for the 7-5 Titans.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Devin White, Tampa Bay, Juan Thornhill, Kansas City, Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati, & Roquan Smith, Chicago.
King on White: “White, in just one quarter at Jacksonville, continued to show the Bucs made a smart pick at number five in the first round last April.”
King on Dunlap: “If the Bengals had 10 more players with the ethos of Dunlap, they sure as heck wouldn’t be 1-11 today.”
Coaches of the Week: Brian Flores, Miami, & Dennis Allen, New Orleans.
King on Allen: “Quietly, Allen has engineered a strong defensive group that has been called on to be better and better this year because it’s no longer automatic that the Saints will score in the thirties every week.”
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of The Mike Tirico Podcast:
Tony Dungy on the Ravens: “I really thought the schedule would catch up with them…But they played a physical game, they played with energy and they’ve taken out all of these top contenders that they’ve played and they look very impressive.”
Rodney Harrison on the 49ers’ loss to the Ravens: “I actually gained more respect for San Francisco having to go on the road in tough conditions…I wouldn’t want to play them.”
Mike Tirico on the Bills defeating the Cowboys on Thanksgiving: “The Bills on a big stage, for the first time in a long time, took care of business. They had to build confidence off of that.”
The following are clips from last night’s edition of Football Night in America:
- Warrick Dunn Thanksgiving Feature: Former Buccaneers and Falcons RB Warrick Dunn takes a look back at how his charity ‘Homes for the Holidays’ has helped his community.
- Michele Tafoya with J.J. Watt: Michele Tafoya catches up with J. Watt to get the latest on his rehab and whether he could be back for the Texans if they make the playoffs.
- Thanks Mom: D.J. Reader: Texans defensive lineman J. Reader reflects on the sacrifices his mom made while he was growing up.
- Mike Florio on Steelers-Browns: Mike Florio discusses the Steelers win over the Browns, and how the two teams left their differences off the field.
- Week 14 Preview: Mike Tirico, Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy preview Week 14 as the Los Angeles Rams host the division rival Seattle Seahawks on SNF.
- Week 14 Sunday Night 7 Picks: The Football Night in America crew make their Sunday Night 7 picks for Week 14’s Rams-Seahawks matchup.
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage heading into Week 10:
- Mike Florio and Chris Simms, with guest Peter King, discuss all things NFL on PFT Live, including handing out their Week 13 superlatives, sharing updated power rankings, and making their Week 14 game picks.
- On Chris Simms Unbuttoned, Simms deep dives into film of two games from Week 14 decided by the fans.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May that King signed an exclusive agreement with NBC Sports Group that included writing a weekly Monday morning NFL column for NBCSports.com; making regular appearances on NBCSN’s and NBC Sports Radio’s PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.