“Wentz is different, the defense seems different, and some new guys aren’t obstacles anymore. They’re energy.” – King on the Eagles
“Game 256 reminds me of the 15th round of Rocky. It’ll be dramatic, and I bet we’ll see players dressed in Niners and Seahawks jerseys throwing haymakers from the ropes in the fourth quarter.” – King on 49ers-Seahawks on this week’s SNF for the NFC West title
“Jones catapulted himself into the race for Defensive Player of the Year.” – King on Cardinals LB Chandler Jones’ four-sack performance
“If I’m all these other contenders – Kansas City and New England – that’s a team that I want to see out, Tennessee, because they can do some damage.” – Tony Dungy on the Titans on The Mike Tirico Podcast
STAMFORD, Conn. – Dec. 23, 2019 – Peter King speaks with Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz, New Orleans wide receiver Michael Thomas, the NFL’s new single-season reception leader, and Minnesota quarterback Kirk Cousins in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also recaps Week 16, looks ahead to the playoffs, and hands out his awards from the weekend.
Additionally, across NBC Sports, on The Mike Tirico Podcast, Mike Tirico, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Mike Florio recap Week 16, 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: “It’s Dec. 23, and (Carson) Wentz is not in a back brace, or gimping around with a surgically repaired knee…So much about this crazy Eagles run from 5-7 three weeks ago to 8-7 and a firm grip on the NFC East title seems like the football gods paying back Wentz.”
Wentz on being healthy at the end of a season: “This is what I expect to be doing every year. I haven’t been playing in these games in a while because of injuries. So thankful to be in a playoff-type game, the kind of game I came here to play in. I expect to be playing in December and helping our team get to the playoffs.”
King on the Eagles potential playoff spot: “And as I’m fond of saying, things change so fast in football that what seemed certain three weeks ago – including a crummy first-round playoff exit by a bad NFC East team – might not happen that way now. A Seattle playoff visit to the Linc, should it happen, might be altogether different than Seattle’s 17-9 November win in Philadelphia.”
King: “Wentz is different, the defense seems different, and some new guys aren’t obstacles anymore. They’re energy.”
Wentz on new Eagles players making an impact: “There was an unknown factor to fans, to everybody. Like, ‘Who are these guys and what are they capable of?”
Wentz: “All teams say this, but for us, it’s been a sense of belief. We all bought in and believed even when we were losing guys. We’re fortunate to be in a division that’s been beating each other up for a while now. Now we can win this last game, be 9-7 and get in the playoffs.”
King on the Vikings offense: “The Vikings use of your father’s NFL offense is the most use of sets with two receivers or less since 2006…The result: a 10-4 start, less pressure on Kirk Cousins to carry the offense, and significantly fewer cold stretches for the offense.”
King: “That recipe hasn’t just been good for the Vikings. It’s given Cousins a new lease on his football life.”
Cousins to King on the new offensive system: “I think where this system has been a positive was, I have a role to play but it’s not gonna be me in the shotgun every snap. It’s gonna be running the football. It’s gonna be using other people to move the ball.”
King on Michael Thomas breaking the NFL’s single-season reception record yesterday: “The amazing thing about Thomas, I think, is not just the volume of catches. It’s knowing the defense has worked all week to slow him down, and figure out the rubs and screens and legal picks, and counter his physicality. But no one has been able to do it.”
Thomas to King: “I don’t think it’s hit yet. I have so much more bigger goals, way more team-oriented goals. It’s a blessing to be in that position, to be in this position and have this opportunity to do something like this. I’m still not finished.”
King on the Raiders still being alive in the playoff race: “The Insanity of the Week is this: The Raiders need four things to happen in Week 17 for them to be the sixth seed in the AFC, and likely open with a wild-card game at Kansas City…And, well, not impossible at all.”
Raiders broadcaster Brent Musburger to King: “So today was a longshot, such a longshot that there were people in the Raiders organization who didn’t know the team still had a playoff chance.”
King on 49ers-Seahawks for the NFC West title on next week’s SNF: “Game 256 reminds me of the 15th round of Rocky. It’ll be dramatic, and I bet we’ll see players dressed in Niners and Seahawks jerseys throwing haymakers from the ropes in the fourth quarter.”
King on the NFC West: “There was a time – oh, way back in time, a whole month ago – that Seattle and San Francisco looked like the class of the NFC. They still may be. But each team is 2-2 this month, and each has been outscored this month…They are survivors now.”
King on the Patriots’ win over the Bills: “They’re not going to be an explosive passing team. They have to ride their physicality and smarts, play low-scoring games, and not beat themselves.”
King on the Bengals: “Bengals clinched the Joe Burrow spot with the overtime loss at Miami. Cincinnati will pick number one in every round.”
King on the Giants’ win: “Fans in greater New York will always know the Giants’ 41-35 overtime win in Washington in Week 16, 2019 was a waste. That game likely cost the Giants the second pick in the draft, and a chance to get a generational pass-rusher in Ohio State’s Chase Young.”
King on the Jaguars: “I think Jacksonville owner Shad Khan did the best thing for the franchise when he fired Tom Coughlin…I’m told it’s very possible that Khan will keep coach Doug Marrone and GM Dave Caldwell…The reasoning, I’m told, is that Coughlin was such a major presence in the organization that Khan would like see how they’d do without the specter of Coughlin looming over all football decisions.”
King on the NFL potentially scheduling more Saturday games next season: “The NFL is considering Week 15 and 16 Saturday doubleheaders, with the same format as this year…Next year, the NFL could make three or four games in Weeks 15 and 16 TBD till sometime in November…then pick two for Dec. 19 and two for Dec. 26.”
KING’S WEEK 16 AWARDS
Offensive Players of the Week: Michael Thomas, New Orleans, Lamar Jackson, Baltimore, Daniel Jones, New York Giants, Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco, & Tom Brady, New England.
King on Thomas: “What a future. He’s 26 years old, uncoverable, and humble. Quite a package.”
Defensive Players of the Week: Chandler Jones, Arizona, Dante Fowler, Los Angeles Rams & Jason Pierre-Paul, Tampa Bay.
King on Jones: “With a career-high four-sack performance against the mobile Russell Wilson, and keying a 27-13 upset of the playoff-bound Seahawks, Jones catapulted himself into the race for Defensive Player of the Year.”
Coach of the Week: Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona.
King: “Arizona’s now won back-to-back games by 14 points. I’d be bullish on the Cards in 2020.”
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of The Mike Tirico Podcast:
Rodney Harrison on the Cowboys loss: “I’m just really disappointed in the Cowboys because they’re always so up and down…Amari Cooper has really, to me, he’s been a disappointment. At times, he just never really shows up. I just question the leadership on that team.”
Tony Dungy on the Titans’ playoff hopes: “If I’m all these other contenders – Kansas City and New England – that’s a team that I want to see out, Tennessee, because they can do some damage.”
Tony Dungy on improving the Browns: “Here’s what you have to do: Go to the pharmacy and buy a bottle of maturity. That’s what they’re missing right now.”
Mike Florio on Michael Thomas’ catch record: “He’s a team guy, but he understands and appreciates history and he knows how big of an accomplishment it is. I never thought anybody would get close to 143 (catches), even in this era of pass-happy offense.”
The following are clips from last night’s edition of Football Night in America:
- Mahomes-Favre-Reid Film Session: Peter King sits down with Patrick Mahomes, Andy Reid and Brett Favre to break down film of the two quarterbacks’ most memorable plays.
- Patrick Mahomes Childhood Video: Home video of a young Patrick Mahomes singing “Rudolph.”
- Thanks Mom: Cordarrelle Patterson: Bears’ Cordarrelle Patterson thanks his mom for everything she’s done for him throughout his life.
- Mike Florio on the Patriots: Mike Florio explains why the NFL may be getting frustrated in its investigation of the Patriots’ film crew taping the Bengals’ sideline.
- Liam McHugh with Matt Forte: Former Bears RB Matt Forte joins Liam McHugh on Football Night in America to discuss the best running backs of the decade and analyze the state of the current Bears team.
- Week 17 Preview: Mike Tirico, Rodney Harrison and Tony Dungy preview Week 17 as the Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers with the NFC West title on the line in next week’s SNF.
- Week 17 Sunday Night 7 Picks: The Football Night in America crew make their Sunday Night 7 picks for Week 17’s Seahawks-49ers matchup.
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage heading into Week 16:
- Mike Florio and Chris Simms, with guest Peter King, discuss all things NFL on PFT Live, including handing out their Week 16 superlatives, sharing updated power rankings, and making their Week 17 game picks.
- On Chris Simms Unbuttoned, Simms deep dives into film of two games from Week 16 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.