“Picking the Chiefs higher than Tampa is based on two things: the magic of Mahomes and a vastly improved KC offensive front.” – King on ranking the Chiefs at No. 1 and the Buccaneers at No. 2
“The arrow’s legitimately up in Cleveland for the first time in a very long time – but the division’s tough as always and the AFC is loaded.” – King on the Browns at No. 4
“If (Aaron) Rodgers was happy and in the fold, I’d rate Green Bay between 4 and 8 here. If I knew this would be Blake Bortles’ team, they’d be around 20.” – King on the Packers at No. 8
STAMFORD, Conn. – May 24, 2021 – Peter King unveils his offseason power rankings with the Kansas City Chiefs in the top spot in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King breaks down each ranking from 1-32, including Cleveland at No. 4, the Chargers at No. 10 and Dallas at No. 21, and discusses player vaccinations for the upcoming season.
Peacock’s free, exclusive NBC Sports channel has weekday sports talk programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which includes extensive NFL coverage from PFT Live featuring Mike Florio and Chris Simms live at 7 a.m. ET, followed by The Dan Patrick Show at 9 a.m. ET, The Rich Eisen Show at Noon ET, Peacock Original Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show discusses offseason storylines and Simms begins his Top 40 QB Countdown on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast this week.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
KING’S OFFSEASON POWER RANKINGS
King’s full offseason rankings:
|1) Kansas City||9) Indianapolis||17) New England||25) Denver|
|2) Tampa Bay||10) Los Angeles Chargers||18) Tennessee||26) Carolina|
|3) Buffalo||11) Miami||19) Pittsburgh||27) Cincinnati|
|4) Cleveland||12) Seattle||20) New York Giants||28) Philadelphia|
|5) San Francisco||13) New Orleans||21) Dallas||29) Jacksonville|
|6) Los Angeles Rams||14) Arizona||22) Atlanta||30) Detroit|
|7) Baltimore||15) Washington||23) Las Vegas||31) New York Jets|
|8) Green Bay||16) Chicago||24) Minnesota||32) Houston|
King on his offseason power rankings: “I tried to find an NFL phoenix rising from nowhere, a King Picks Detroit to Shock the NFC, because there’s one every year, and we all want to be trendspotters. I just couldn’t do it…I think Kansas City and Tampa Bay are the best teams in football heading into the pre-camp period after all the major team changes have been made. I can’t fake it.”
King on the Chiefs at No. 1: “This is such a well-coached, well-run team. I remember doing this list last year and trying to force myself to find any reason to pick another team number one after the Super Bowl win, and I couldn’t. Same after the Super Bowl loss now…GM Brett Veach maneuvered the cap and signed/drafted/traded for a new offensive line…In Week 1, Orlando Brown/Joe Thuney/Austin Blythe/Kyle Long/(Mike) Remmers should be a top 10 NFL offensive line – a vast improvement from number 32 at season’s end.”
King on the Buccaneers at No. 2: “This team could get back on the kind of run it was on last winter, even with a 44-year-old quarterback. As for betting it all on Tom Brady: Of course it is insane to think a 44-year-old man can continue to excel as a young man’s game. But I am not betting against a man who has started all 75 of his teams’ games in his forties, is 56-19 in those games, who has won Super Bowls at ages 41 and 43…Picking the Chiefs higher than Tampa is based on two things: the magic of Mahomes and a vastly improved KC offensive front.”
King on the Bills at No. 3: “In rankings like these, I like to favor teams with the arrow pointing up…This team fascinates me. I could see them getting on one of those steamrolling runs the Jim Kelly Bills did a generation ago.”
King on the Browns at No. 4: “First time in forever I look at the Browns and say, ‘Where are the holes?’ Corner depth, maybe…Receiver depth, maybe, particularly with Odell Beckham coming off a torn ACL…But this is a team of strengths now…The arrow’s legitimately up in Cleveland for the first time in a very long time – but the division’s tough as always and the AFC is loaded.”
King on the 49ers at No. 5: “The (John) Lynch/(Kyle) Shanahan regime, highly respected around the league and by owner Jed York, has to be feeling some heat because of three losing seasons out of their first four on the job…The Niners need a healthy season from Nick Bosa to be a great defense. And a great defense would allow them to threaten the Bucs for NFL supremacy.”
King on the Packers at No. 8: “Ultimate hedging-my-bet on Aaron Rodgers. I don’t know if he and the Packers will make peace. He seems dug in to not play in Green Bay, but today is May 24. A lot can change in 111 days…If Rodgers was happy and in the fold, I’d rate Green Bay between 4 and 8 here. If I knew this would be Blake Bortles’ team, they’d be around 20. Pretty big swing.”
King on the Chargers at No. 10: “It’s hard to not be swooning over 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Herbert…(Derwin) James and Joey Bosa are the best two players on the defense, and the Chargers could win 11 or 12 games if they can stay on the field. I’m betting they play most of the year and earn a wild-card spot.”
King on the Steelers at No. 19: “I can’t unsee the 1-4 Steeler finish to the regular season, with Ben Roethlisberger presiding over a crumbling offense, and then the most embarrassing home playoff loss in Steeler history…Now a remade offensive line and top pick Najee Harris will try to build a running game – the lack of which ruined 2020 for Pittsburgh – with new coordinator Matt Canada…I think the team that was hardest to place for me in my NFL rankings was Pittsburgh.”
King on the Cowboys at No. 21: “The best player in the NFC East is back, and if Dak Prescott is what he was when we last saw him for a season, with a receiving corps bettered by CeeDee Lamb, Dallas will be in the NFC East mix in late December. The bigger question is the defense, obviously.”
King on the Vikings at No. 24: “The annual Kirk Cousins referendum is getting so tired. Cousins has played small in some big games, to be sure. And for the Vikings to draft Kellen Mond because they’re tired of being tethered to a gigantic quarterback cap number every year is okay. But my focus here is not on the quarterback…I don’t think they did enough to turn the defense around in the offseason.”
King on the Bengals at No. 27: “The Bengals might be the modern-day Dan Fouts Chargers, with Joe Burrow throwing to three premier wideouts…It’s strange to rate a team 27th and be optimistic about its future…What I like about the state of the Bengals is there’s a quarterback who won’t stand for the same old Bengals, who will shake them out of the lethargy of five straight losing seasons. And if you’re not on board, get out of the way.”
King on the Texans at No. 32: “Could this change if Deshaun Watson plays, say, eight games for the Texans? Slightly…The franchise has the feel of an expansion team, with Tyrod Taylor scrambling for his life behind a shaky line while keeping the seat warm for Davis Mills, who may or may not be the quarterback of the future…I didn’t even use the Houston, we’ve got a problem line, because that would be understating how bad the prospects for 2021 are.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on NFL protocols around COVID-19 vaccinations: “In baseball, teams that have 85 percent of players get the vaccine are allowed to mostly go back to 2019 protocols…I bring this up because recently I heard the NFL is talking about (nothing’s definite) opening up in a similar fashion teams that are able to get to 85-percent player vaccine rate. Who would want to be at 2020 protocols?”
King: “I think I can envision GMs and owners and coaches in the NFL this fall saying just what (Chicago Cubs GM Jed) Hoyer says here: ‘It’s a part of the job I never quite imagined, being involved in that kind of education, that kind of convincing.’”
King on vaccinations within NFL teams: “Spoke to one team official the other day. His team has full vaccination by coaching staff and support staff (trainers, equipment, etc.), and less than 40 percent vax rate for players. He is dubious that his team will get to 85 percent for players. He said the hope he has is that once non-vaccinated players see the disadvantages of not getting the shot, they’ll grudgingly reconsider and get the vaccine.”
King on Tim Tebow and the Jaguars: “I think if you’re going to have the circus come to town, you’d better have a plan for it. Now that Tim Tebow is a Jaguar (for at least a few months, anyway), expect him to do zero interviews till he absolutely has to. Urban Meyer knows the media will focus on Tebow intently this spring and in the first few days of training camp…But he wants the organization to consciously chill out on Tebow while the staff tries to figure out a few things.”
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.
- ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
- The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and NBC Sports EDGE’s A Good Football Show continue the NFL discussion.
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.