“I think it’s Buffalo’s breakthrough year, and I think Matthew Stafford gives the Rams the kind of offensive confidence and explosiveness they haven’t had.” – King on predicting a Rams-Bills Super Bowl matchup
“I can’t tell you what I don’t like about Tampa Bay, because there’s not much to quibble with about the ’21 Bucs…I will not be remotely surprised if the Bucs make it back to a second straight Super Bowl.” – King on the Buccaneers
“A healthy Stafford, in a 17-game season and with that Rams backfield, could be the first quarterback to throw for 6,000 yards in a year.” – King on picking Rams QB Matthew Stafford to win MVP
STAMFORD, Conn. – September 6, 2021 – Peter King makes his 2021 NFL predictions for this year’s playoff teams, Super Bowl matchup, and individual awards in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also shares his thoughts on teams around the league, discusses how Covid could impact the NFL season, and more.
NBC Sports will open the NFL’s “biggest season ever” with the 2021 NFL Kickoff game this Thursday, Sept. 9, when Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady and the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET, followed by kickoff at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and Universo.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
KING’S 2021 NFL PREDICTIONS
Peter King on making his 2021 predictions: “Quarterbacks and Covid. That’s what I found myself thinking about trying to pick the Super Bowl LVI participants… It’s weird trying to pick the best teams this year. Do you consider the Covid-hotspot areas? … It’s in the back of my mind, and it influenced but did not dominate my picks.”
King on his Super Bowl LVI prediction: “I’m picking a Rams-Bills Super Bowl. Obvious rejoinder: What’s wrong with Kansas City and Tampa Bay? You had them ranked 1-2 in the spring. The answer is, Nothing. I really liked the Bills and Rams when I went to their camps. I think it’s Buffalo’s breakthrough year, and I think Matthew Stafford gives the Rams the kind of offensive confidence and explosiveness they haven’t had since we all thought Jared Goff was The Answer, in early 2018.”
King’s AFC playoff seeds: “1. Buffalo, 2. Kansas City, 3. Tennessee, 4. Cleveland, 5. New England, 6. L.A. Chargers, 7. Baltimore.”
King’s NFC playoff seeds: “1. Tampa Bay, 2. Green Bay, 3. L.A. Rams, 4. Dallas, 5. San Francisco, 6. New Orleans, 7. Seattle.”
King on picking the Rams to beat the Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game: “I can’t tell you what I don’t like about Tampa Bay, because there’s not much to quibble with about the ’21 Bucs…This is more about liking the Rams than disliking the Bucs. I will not be remotely surprised if the Bucs make it back to a second straight Super Bowl.”
King on the Rams: “Simply put, Matthew Stafford gives (Rams head coach Sean) McVay, one of the smartest offensive brains in the game, the first chance in his five seasons as coach to have confidence in calling everything on his play sheet. Everything. Stafford has the arm to make every throw, and the brain to know when to make one throw versus another.”
King on the Bills: “Tough pick here, because the Bills lost to KC by nine and 14 last year and we still don’t have proof that the Achilles heel of the Buffalo franchise, the pass rush, is any good…So much of Buffalo’s fate rests with Josh Allen. I like that.”
King on Josh Allen: “Allen is 25. After playing off-off Broadway as a quarterback for years, now he understands what it takes to win in the big time. Now he’s just got to do it. I’m betting he’s ready…In the offseason, Allen worked on control. It’s clear he’s talented enough, throwing and running, to be great for a long time. But even he admits he’s tried to do too much late in games early in his career.”
King on the Chiefs: “I’m not as worried about the brand-new offensive line as I am about receiver depth…Having thrown those caution flags, there’s too much to like about this franchise, and this coaching staff, and this front office. Plus, Buffalo has to prove it can beat the AFC Kings.”
King on the Chargers: “Bullish on the Justin Herbert-powered Chargers, with a big if: Derwin James and Joey Bosa, if healthy, give the Chargers the nucleus of a playoff defense. But James has missed 27 starts the last two years and Bosa six. The idea of Brandon Staley playing chess with those two pieces for 17 weeks is tantalizing, but, well, you know.”
King on the Browns: “I love the depth of the Browns, and I picked them to edge the Ravens in the AFC North because of it, particularly with all the soft-tissue injuries plaguing Baltimore right now.”
King on the NFC East: “Dallas over Washington. WFT could have a top-five defense, and that alone might be good enough to win an NFC East stuck in mediocrity. Dallas, though, will have a top-five offense, and I think Micah Parsons the playmaker and Dan Quinn the playcaller move the D from horrendous to tolerable.”
KING’S 2021 NFL AWARDS
MVP: “1. Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams; 2. Josh Allen, QB, Bills; 3. Tom Brady, QB, Bucs…A healthy Stafford, in a 17-game season and with that Rams backfield, could be the first quarterback to throw for 6,000 yards in a year.”
Coach of the Year: “1. Sean McDermott, Bills; 2. Sean McVay, Rams; 3. Bill Belichick, Patriots…If the Bills beat back a strong AFC group for home-field, McDermott will be the beneficiary in this vote.”
Offensive Player of the Year: “1. Matthew Stafford, QB, Rams; 2. Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings; 3. Nick Chubb, Browns…Three backs – Cook, Chubb, Derrick Henry – will rush for more than 1,500 yards.”
Defensive Player of the Year: “Defensive player: 1. T.J. Watt, edge, Steelers; 2. Aaron Donald, DT, Rams; 3. Justin Madubuike, DT, Ravens…This was Watt’s award last year. This year he leaves no doubt. Watch Madubuike explode this year.”
Offensive Rookie of the Year: “1. Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons; 2. Trey Smith, G, Chiefs; 3. Najee Harris, RB, Steelers…Smith? A guard? Second? I know he has zero shot. But if he’s a top 10 NFL guard, and he could be, give him his due.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on Covid: “One coach of a playoff contender told me after dismissing his players for a long weekend – most teams are returning from three or four days off today or tomorrow, a luxurious mini-bye baked onto the backside of the three-game preseason schedule – he is concerned about the weekend plus what lays ahead with the virus.”
King on new position-specific helmets: “Player-safety history will be made in Week 1, with at least six NFL starters wearing the first position-specific helmet ever made. VICIS, the innovative Seattle-based helmet manufacturer, has invented a helmet designed for offensive and defensive linemen…to put additional streamlined padding at the lineman’s forehead and hairline, where the repetitive, play-after-play contact with the opposition happens most often.”
King on rules changes this season: “The big rules change of the year will be the elimination of the low block. This has gotten zero attention this summer, but when you watch football this year, you’ll notice The intent is to eliminate chopping players at the knees, often at full speed…I think offenses will have a big advantage here, particularly in things like wide runs or the screen game.”
King on the Saints and Packers playing in Jacksonville in Week 1: “I think the Week 1 Saints-Packers ended up in Jacksonville primarily because of a concert at AT&T Stadium the following Wednesday. The set-up time for these stadium shows is significant, and though the Cowboys would have worked with the NFL to make the game happen in Texas, the NFL had no such stadium issues in Jacksonville with the Jaguars on the road in Week 1 and no other events in the stadium there.”
The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:
- PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Chris Simms streams live on Peacock from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. ET on weekdays, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Brother From Another at 3 p.m. ET, PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. At 6 p.m. ET, Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams Tuesday-Friday.
- com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continues the NFL discussion and Bet The Edge Podcast provides daily betting insights.
A new “Football Morning in America” posts every Monday morning exclusively on NBCSports.com through the NFL season. It was announced in May 2019 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 PFT Live with Mike Florio; and continuing to contribute to Football Night in America, the most-watched studio show in sports.