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PETER KING RANKS HIS TOP 10 TEAMS WITH THE PACKERS AT NO. 1, IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“The Packers do the most the best. Aaron Rodgers is the bright, shiny object, but the defense is what’s different in Green Bay.” – King on the Packers at No. 1

“I put the Patriots here because Mac Jones shows no sign of the games being too good for him. And because the defensive depth is better than any AFC peer.” – King on the Patriots at No. 3

“This isn’t the steamrolling Kansas City offense anymore…I just think (Patrick) Mahomes will figure a way to win even if he doesn’t have the same tools.” – King on the Chiefs at No. 5

STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 29, 2021 – Peter King ranks his top 10 teams in the NFL right now, with the Green Bay Packers at No. 1, in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also ranks the teams most likely to emerge as this year’s Buccaneers, speaks with Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur and Tampa Bay running back Leonard Fournette, hands out his Week 12 awards, and more.

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The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:

KING’S TOP TEN RANKINGS

King: “When the calendar turns to December, we should know the lay of the land in the NFL, right? Of course…this year, well, I’m going to give you the top 10 in the league heading into snow-squall season, and I’m going to give you the five teams who could be this year’s Bucs.”

King on factors in his rankings: “Look at the schedule…Envy teams with the late bye…Beware of teams peaking too soon. November football matters. December and January football really matters.”

King’s top ten teams in the NFL right now:

1. Green Bay Packers6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. Arizona Cardinals7. Baltimore Ravens
3. New England Patriots8. Dallas Cowboys
4. Buffalo Bills9. Los Angeles Rams
5. Kansas City Chiefs10. Tennessee Titans

King on the Packers at No. 1: “The Packers do the most the best. Aaron Rodgers is the bright, shiny object, but the defense is what’s different in Green Bay…this defense is giving up 20.2 points per game over the first 12 games, and that’s a winning formula when you’ve got Rodgers, Davante Adams and two good running backs.”

King: “The Packers are winning without their two best defenders, edge player Za’Darius Smith and cornerback Jaire Alexander, who are injured…They’re winning, in part, because of the depth built by embattled GM Brian Gutekunst and rookie defensive coordinator Joe Barry.”

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur to King on LB De’Vondre Campbell: “Talk about an off-season pickup that was absolutely critical. That might be the biggest one. He’s an eraser. He never misses tackles. We made him like the centerpiece of our defense, calling the defense. He’s Batman for us, and he really embraces that role.”

LaFleur on Rodgers’ touchdown run in yesterday’s win vs. the Rams: “On a play that was a designed handoff. He just saw everyone go in the direction of the run, so he decided to keep it. I was like, Uh oh. But he gave Jalen (Ramsey) a dead leg or something and was able to get in.”

King on the Cardinals No. 2: “They’re 10th offensively and fifth defensively, bolstered by a pass-rush. They’ve outscored foes by 108 points, but their Achilles has been run defense.”

King on the Patriots at No. 3: “I put the Patriots here because Mac Jones shows no sign of the games being too good for him. And because the defensive depth is better than any AFC peer. That depth was helped significantly by the addition of Matthew Judon in free agency.”

Judon to King about on if he met with Bill Belichick before signing with the Patriots: “I didn’t have one…I thought free agency would be like ‘Let’s Make a Deal,” but we went through that legal tampering period, I had a couple ideas where I might go, and then I was working out on the day the deals could get done, and I heard nothing. Then we had the offer and I had to decide and boom, it was done.”

King on the Bills at No. 4: “Truly a mystifying team…They’re holding opposing quarterbacks to a composite passer rating of 62.8, with eight TDs surrendered and 16 interceptions. That is one pesky pass defense.”

King on the Chiefs at No. 5: “KC’s 4-0 since Halloween, giving up just 12 points a game while defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo got some of his key pieces healthy and playing at their traditional levels…This isn’t the steamrolling Kansas City offense anymore…I just think (Patrick) Mahomes will figure a way to win even if he doesn’t have the same tools.”

King on the Buccaneers at No. 6 and RB Leonard Fournette: “Fournette won a Super Bowl ring in Tampa last year, but he became a championship running back with that four-TD performance Sunday in Indiana…A power-back with that offense could make it lethal, and it might be needed with a defense that’s been more attackable this year than last.”

Fournette to King on the Buccaneers’ comeback win vs. the Colts yesterday: “At halftime I told Tom (Brady), ‘This game will end with either me or you winning it. This sh–’s gonna end with one of us doing it.’”

King on the Ravens at No. 7 and QB Lamar Jackson’s interceptions: “The Ravens have to hope it’s a blip for Jackson. They’ve shown the ability to coach and manage around some difficult circumstances, and they may have to again this year.”

King on the Cowboys at No. 8: “Lost three of four, and there are things to worry about, such as an overmatched and grabby secondary. I put my faith here in Dak Prescott, a reliable run game, and the most impressive rookie in football (Micah Parsons).”

King on the Rams at No. 9: “Can the Rams survive the worst special-teams in football (muffing punts, slumping Johnny Hekker) and a suddenly careless Matthew Stafford and a defense that’s gone from first in the league last year to mid-pack and allowed 32 points a game the last three weeks? Stay tuned.”

King on the Titans at No. 10: “Without weapons, Ryan Tannehill has been pretty mortal, putting up 26 points in the past two weeks combined against Houston and the Pats. Still a tough team, but if A.J. Brown isn’t back by mid-December, the Titans are in trouble.”

KING’S TEAMS THAT COULD BE THIS YEAR’S BUCCANEERS

King on the 49ers: “Jimmy Garoppolo, the undisputed starter, has turned it over once in the last three games – not coincidentally, all wins…Road games at the Bengals, Titans and Rams will test them, but I see the Niners as a threatening sixth seed in a weakened NFC.”

King on the Bengals: “We knew Joe Burrow would be a threat, and he’s made beautiful music with a quartet of strong young pass-catchers. But the defense is what’s going to determine this team’s fate.”

King on the Eagles: “Young quarterbacks are up and down, and I’d have told you before Sunday in East Rutherford that Jalen Hurts has a chance to stave off the front office from going quarterback-shopping in the offseason. Now, who knows…Imagine a win-and-in home game to close the season against the Cowboys, with Hurts’ future on the line. Must-see TV.”

KING’S WEEK 12 AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Week: Tua Tagovailoa, Miami, Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay, & Joe Mixon, Cincinnati.

King on Tagovailoa: “He will have starrier games in the NFL, but what made Tagovailoa’s performance in the 33-10 rout of the Panthers so good was the complete control he had over the Miami offense.”

Defensive Players of the Week: Pat Surtain II, Denver, Derwin James, LA Chargers, John Franklin-Myers, NY Jets, & Jaelen Phillips, Miami.

King on Surtain: “In training camp, I remember how everyone around the Broncos described the rookie Surtain as a guy who walked in with the experience of a three-year NFL corner. He sure looks like it now.”

Special Teams Players of the Week: Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota, Daniel Carlson, Las Vegas, Scotty Miller, Tampa Bay, & Duke Riley, Miami.

King on Nwangwu: “He made his second TD return on a kickoff look easy. What a threat this rookie from Iowa State has become for Minnesota.”

Coach of the Week: Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco.

King: “The season was on the brink three weeks ago this morning…Shanahan has managed Jimmy Garoppolo superbly, and the embattled quarterback is playing his best since midway through 2019.”

NEWS & NOTES

King on Browns QB Baker Mayfield: “I don’t want to get too hyped over one game, or a recent run of play, but I don’t know how anyone watches the Cleveland Browns last night or for the last month and says, ‘It’d be a swell idea to pay Baker Mayfield franchise-quarterback money.’”

King on the Rams: “I think Matthew Stafford is morphing into bad Stafford at just the wrong time. Three games in a row with a pick-six (even through the one against the Niners was gift-wrapped by Tyler Higbee) is not the way Sean McVay wants to head into the Rams’ stretch run.”

King on the Bengals: “I think the Bengals aren’t a Super Bowl team this year, and they may not be anytime soon. But down the stretch, no team will want to play Cincy with Joe Burrow throwing the way he is and Joe Mixon running the way he is and Trey Hendrickson dominating the defensive front the way he is.”

Read the full FMIA column here and catch the weekly Peter King Podcast here.

The following are additional highlights of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage:




    • PFT Live with NBC Sports’ Mike Florio and Mike Golic (Mondays) and Florio and Chris Simms (Tuesday-Thursday) 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.
    • 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.

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