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PETER KING RECAPS WILD WEEK & TAKES STOCK AT NFL’S MIDSEASON POINT IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

“If I’m the Raiders, and I’m serious about being a long-term contender in Sin City, I’m turning over every rock to make sure the franchise stops screeching from one franchise-jarring piece of news to another…This franchise is crying out for stability.” – King on the Raiders in Las Vegas

“Aside from Kansas City’s regression to the mean and Arizona being better on offense and defense than anyone thought, it hasn’t been a year of big surprises on the field.” – King on the NFL’s midseason point

“They don’t want to alienate Rodgers, in hopes of him wanting to stay in Green Bay at least one more season. But they are risking major team fines and discipline if they look the other way on Rodgers and masks.” – King on the Packers’ handling of Aaron Rodgers’ vaccination status

STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 8, 2021 – Peter King recaps a wild week of news and takes stock around the league as the NFL hits the midseason point in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also discusses the state of the Raiders, Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., hands out his Week 9 awards, and more.

Across NBC Sports this week, Pro Football Talk streams live on Peacock at 7 a.m. ET every weekday and re-airs at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN. In addition to Pro Football Talk, Peacock offers daily sports programming on the NBC Sports channel for free, including shows Safety Blitz, Chris Simms Unbuttoned, The Peter King Podcast, The Rich Eisen Show, Brother from Another, and The Dan Patrick Show. To learn more about the NBC Sports on Peacock channel and how to sign up, click here.

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

THE RAIDERS

King: “The Raiders are still in first place in the AFC West, where every team is either 5-3 (Vegas, Chargers) or 5-4 (KC, Denver). But there’s so much simmering on and below the surface with the Raiders, and you just wonder if it’s a matter of time before the whole thing implodes…I mean, how much more can one locker room take?”

Raiders QB Derek Carr following yesterday’s loss to the Giants: “It’s all about the ball. That’s why we lost. Please. Just talk about me turning the ball over.”

King on the Raiders’ struggles: “We’ll give Carr the L here, as he deserves…But this thought occurred to me after one smart official from another NFL team asked me over the weekend: ‘Do you think it might be Vegas? I can tell you I’m glad I’m not working with a team in Vegas.’”

King on Las Vegas: “At first glance, it seems like a conclusion-jump. But what if the city that rarely sleeps is really a detriment for team-building, and a detriment for young players flush with cash for the first time in their lives?”

King: “If I’m the Raiders, and I’m serious about being a long-term contender in Sin City, I’m turning over every rock to make sure the franchise stops screeching from one franchise-jarring piece of news to another. Raiders GM Mike Mayock, assuming he’s now at least the medium-term caretaker of the team, has to make that priority one as he goes forward. This franchise is crying out for stability, and Mayock’s job right now is to draft and construct and manage a team that makes it happen.”

King on formers Raiders WR Henry Ruggs: “After the Henry Ruggs catastrophe last week, the first thoughts are about the 23-year-old woman, Tina Tintor, whose SUV was rear-ended in the horrific crash, and to her dog Max, a Golden Retriever.”

King: “As for the football part of it, the elimination of Ruggs from the Raiders is a ruinous piece of Mike Mayock’s three-year puzzle to remake the team with high-quality, high-character players, mostly from huge football schools like Alabama and Clemson and Ohio State. It’s a major hit for Mayock.”

King on Ruggs’ career with the Raiders: “The temptation was to call Ruggs a Tyreek Hill type of receiver – blinding, game-changing speed. But early on, the comparison were faulty…Ruggs was a guy who could take the top off a defense but didn’t have the ball in his hands enough – yet, at least – to be a great player.”

King: “Lots of moving parts for the Raiders now. I trust that Carr won’t be so gobsmacked by the loss of Ruggs that he falls into a slump that wrecks the Vegas season…Carr, the biggest piece of the Raiders’ playoff puzzle, has to put aside the franchise mayhem – again – and try to make a talented-enough football team succeed. With the Raiders, now tragically, it’s never easy.”

WEEK 9 TIMELINE

King on the events of this week: “Ever see a week like this one? Not that I recall.”

Monday, 10:30 a.m. Mountain time

King on the Broncos trading Von Miller to the Rams: “The last Super Bowl MVP to be a defensive player (Super Bowl 50, Denver over Carolina), Miller, 33, will likely retire a Bronco one day. For now, I expect he’ll be a spot player the rest of the regular season as the Rams try to get him to full health for the playoffs. For L.A., this trade was about January and February, not November.”

Tuesday, 3:39 a.m. Pacific Time

King on former Raiders WR Henry Ruggs: “Around midnight Monday, Raiders receiver Henry Ruggs texted QB Derek Carr, asking for some golf tips…He got in his Corvette about three hours later and did something that seems almost impossible to do, police said: Ruggs accelerated the car to 156 mph on a city street, then crashed into an SUV at about 127 mph moments later. The SUV burst into flames, and the driver, 23-year-old Tina Tintor, was killed in the fiery crash, as was her Golden Retriever, also in the vehicle.”

King: “Ruggs’ worry now is not his football career. It’s how long a prison term he faces for charges of DUI resulting in death, DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm, and possessing a loaded weapon under the influence. In 38 seasons covering this game, I don’t remember an auto accident involving a player as heinous as this one.”

Wednesday, 10:50 a.m. Central Time

King on Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers’ Covid situation: “Tom Pelissero tweeted that Rogers tested positive and would be out for the Packers’ game Sunday against Kansas City, meaning that he is unvaccinated…Storm clouds over Green Bay. Jordan Love prepped for his first NFL start. No big deal. It just would happen to be against Patrick Mahomes in the loudest stadium in the AFC, Arrowhead.”

Thursday, 10:30 p.m. Eastern time

King on Odell Beckham Jr.: “All heck broke loose at midday Wednesday when writer Mike Silver…tweeted that Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski told his players that Odell Beckham Jr. ‘is essentially not on the team right now.’ … Cleveland would release Beckham after a recent history of low impact. In his last nine Browns games, he had 24 catches for 315 yards and zero touchdowns. Beckham used to score touchdowns as often as Tom Brady pounded electrolytes.”

Friday, 1 p.m. Eastern Time

King on Rodgers’ statements: “In his ‘Twilight Zone TED Talk,’ as Pro Football Talk called it, Rodgers talked about the woke mob, sterility, fertility, Joe Rogan, Ivermectin, CNN, Fox News, Martin Luther King Jr. In other words, in defending himself for being unvaccinated, he turned a football issue into a red-versus-blue issue, even if he did it unwittingly.”

MIDSEASON REVIEW

King on items he missed in his preseason predictions: “KC struggling with a defense much worse than I thought, and an offense more limited than at any time in the Mahomes era…The NFC seven seed possibly being an 8-9 team…The emergence of Trevon Diggs; Ja’Marr Chase being such an early star; an Andy Reid team being minus-9 in turnover margin after nine games.”

King: “Aside from Kansas City’s regression to the mean and Arizona being better on offense and defense than anyone thought, it hasn’t been a year of big surprises on the field.”

King on the Cowboys: “We said before the year that if the Cowboys were even decent on D, they’d be a force. At 18th in yards allowed and with young stars Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs making big plays, and with six division games left in a lousy division, the Cowboys should brush off the ugly Denver showing.”

King on the Saints: “Even without Jameis Winston, I like the Saints to be a 12-win team. With a defense giving up less than 20 points a game, the offense has to be just above average, and a Sean Payton attack will always be that.”

King on Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey in the second half of the season: “He makes Sam Darnold a lot better because he gives the Panthers offense a consistent dangerous hot receiver.”

King on Titans DL Jeffery Simmons: “The interior defensive force for Tennessee had a career game Sunday night against the Rams’ very forgiving offensive front. The three-sack night should be a sign of things to come for the 2019 first-round pick.”

NEWS & NOTES

King on Aaron Rodgers: “He said there was a ‘witch hunt’ in the media, trying to find out who was vaccinated and who wasn’t…If a player tests positive, say, on a Friday and is unvaccinated, he will miss the next 10 days of team activities, meaning he will miss at least two games. That’s news. Reporters are going to ask about that, and rightfully so.

King on the Packers & protocols: “They don’t want to alienate Rodgers, in hopes of him wanting to stay in Green Bay at least one more season. But they are risking major team fines and discipline if they look the other way on Rodgers and masks…The league has begun an investigation into the Packers’ mask protocol, one source told me. League officials, by right, can watch 30 days of video from the team’s training facility.”

King on the Broncos’ win over the Cowboys: “I can’t think of anything more stunning in all the Sunday strangeness than that score…Vic Fangio’s D is gold, and he might be saving his job at the same time.”

King on the Falcons: “I think Arthur Smith is getting an awful lot out of the Atlanta Falcons.”

King on Titans RB Adrian Peterson: “I think there’s one other way to look at Peterson’s longevity: Mike Vrabel became a coach in Peterson’s fifth NFL season. Now, in Peterson’s 15th season, Vrabel has been a coach for 11 years – and is Peterson’s head coach.”

KING’S WEEK 9 AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Week: Colt McCoy, Arizona, Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers, & Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis.

King on McCoy: “The Cardinals might have thought they had a good backup, a vet ready to play competitively in the NFL. Now, after this decisive McCoy-led win, they know they have one.”

Defensive Players of the Week: Jeffery Simmons, Tennessee, Josh Allen, Jacksonville, Xavier McKinney, New York Giants, & J.C. Jackson, New England.

King on Jackson: “Perhaps the most unheralded cornerback in the league should be heralded.”

Special Teams Player of the Week: Kene Nwangwu, Minnesota.

King on Nwangwu’s 98-yard kickoff-return touchdown: “Coming against a team with a reputation for good special-teams play, it was an especially important play for the rookie fourth-rounder from Iowa State, drafted largely to be a key special-teamer. That pick by GM Rick Spielman showed its worth with this one play.”

Coaches of the Week: Joe Cullen, Jacksonville, & Kliff Kingsbury, Arizona.

King on Cullen: “Cullen’s D held one of football’s most explosive offenses and quarterbacks to zero touchdowns and 301 yards, with four sacks and two interceptions…Good lessons and a good game plan by Cullen.”

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.

--NBC SPORTS--