FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 1st, 2020

PETER KING ON OUR COUNTRY AT A CROSSROADS IN THIS WEEK’S “FMIA” COLUMN

This isn’t a black/white issue. It’s a human issue.” – King

King’s First 2020 NFL Power Rankings – From 1 Through 32

“The Chiefs absolutely are vulnerable on defense…I just love the offense too much to pick anyone else first.” – King on ranking the Chiefs No. 1

 “I think the team that wins it all this year is gonna be the team that’s really getting an edge during this time.” – Peyton Manning to King on the importance of this offseason

“His good is as good as anybody in the game. The problem is, his bad is worse than the top 40 quarterbacks in football.” – Simms, from his Top 40 NFL QB Countdown, on Saints QB Jameis Winston at No. 33

STAMFORD, Conn. – June 1, 2020 – Peter King writes about our country at a crossroads since the death of George Floyd and its impact on the NFL in this week’s edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also provides his first NFL Power Rankings for the 2020 season and speaks with two-time Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning about how quarterbacks should approach the uniqueness of this offseason.

This week on NBCSN, Lunch Talk Live with Mike Tirico continues each weekday at Noon ET. NBC Sports Football Flex, a one-hour show featuring the most topical news and analysis from NBC Sports’ digital football content, begins daily at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

Additionally, ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and NFL insider Mike Florio and analyst Chris Simms provide analysis and updates on PFT Live. Simms also continues to count down his top 40 NFL quarterback rankings.

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

KING’S PERSPECTIVE ON RACE

King: “In 2017 and 2018, when Colin Kaepernick couldn’t find a job because he kneeled in protest during the playing of the national anthem, the refrain inside the league office was clear: Teams are free to hire who they want. We can’t force anyone to sign Colin Kaepernick.

“This spring, the NFL was faced with another uncomfortable problem—the low number of minority coaches in the league. There were eight in 2018. Now it’s four, for a second straight year. The league passed a rule that every team would have to interview two minorities before hiring a head coach. This refrain: Teams are free to hire who they want, but we’ve got to force the issue here. This is embarrassing.

“Taking a stand on increasing minority coaches is applauded, but spurning Kaepernick for exercising his civil rights—that’s a business decision.”

King: “This is a brutal time in our country. I’m white, grew up in a white Connecticut burb, played sports with and against white boys almost exclusively, went to a predominantly white university, worked on predominantly white sports staffs. I can’t know the anger and the fear and the loathing of so many black people as they go about their lives, because it’s not my experience.”

King: “This isn’t a black/white issue. It’s a human issue.”

For more on King’s perspective, click here.

POWER RANKINGS

King: No. 1, Kansas City Chiefs: “I hate picking teams to repeat. It’s happened once this century, and not for the past 15 years. Too much can happen. And the Chiefs absolutely are vulnerable on defense…I just love the offense too much to pick anyone else first.”

King: No. 2, Baltimore Ravens: “Lamar Jackson has been an amalgam of John Elway and Michael Vick in the regular season, the justifiably unanimous MVP winner in 2019…The AFC North is better with Ben Roethlisberger back and Joe Burrow in it, but I think the Ravens will be neck-and-neck with the Chiefs for best record in the conference…Baltimore should be 13-3 or better.”

King: No. 5, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: “(Tom) Brady will lift a franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since Brady’s first season as a full-time starter, 2002. I do not believe he’s fallen off some cliff at 43; it’s a cliché…Nothing’s guaranteed, particularly in a season with the tough AFC West on the schedule. But I think the Bucs have a good chance to be 2020’s breakthrough team.”

King: No. 9, Dallas Cowboys: “Dak Prescott certainly can win his share of 33-30 games; now, for the Cowboys to beat Philadelphia for the NFC East crown, he’ll have to. I think the Cowboys are the team to beat in the division, but one of the toughest November/December slates in football will make it very difficult.”

King: No. 13, Buffalo Bills: “I think Buffalo’s the best team in the division with one proviso: (Josh) Allen must be better…But I’m counting on the weaponry around Allen and what’s going to be a top five D to be the difference.”

King: No. 18, Arizona Cardinals: “I’d have had the Cards higher if I trusted the defense. Other than Joe Burrow, Isaiah Simmons is probably the rookie with the most juice in the NFL entering the season…So many interesting teams to watch in 2020…Arizona’s in the top five.”

King: No. 21, New England Patriots: “Well, Bill Belichick and the Patriots are set up to answer the age-old question: Can Belichick win without Tom Brady?…I think this season breaks the Patriots’ 11-year stranglehold on the AFC East, but I’m pretty sure everyone in that building wants to rub our faces in such predictions, and that’s a great motivator.”

King’s full offseason rankings:

1) Kansas City 9) Dallas 17) Chicago 25) Atlanta
2) Baltimore 10) Pittsburgh 18) Arizona 26) Detroit
3) New Orleans 11) Minnesota 19) Miami 27) Cincinnati
4) San Francisco 12) Green Bay 20) Denver 28) New York Jets
5) Tampa Bay 13) Buffalo 21) New England 29) Carolina
6) Seattle 14) Indianapolis 22) Houston 30) New York Giants
7) Tennessee 15) Philadelphia 23) Los Angeles Chargers 31) Washington
8) Las Vegas 16) Los Angeles Rams 24) Cleveland 32) Jacksonville

 

NFL NOTES

Peyton Manning to King on this offseason: “I’ve done a few Zoom calls. I did the Buffalo Bills quarterback room meeting. Did the Los Angeles Rams full team meeting. Did the Bears quarterbacks…Quarterbacks, take ownership. All these Zoom meetings, right now, the coaches are leading them. My message was to the quarterbacks. ‘Hey, organize your own Zoom meetings without the coaches, just get you and the tight ends, you and the receivers.’ It’s actually an opportunity to even have better communication.”

Manning on his brother Eli’s advice about similarities between this offseason and the NFL lockout in 2011: “Eli talked about during the NFL lockout – nobody makes any comparisons to what’s going on right now – but, the NFL lockout was somewhat similar in the fact that it was truly a lockdown…Eli talked about organizing their own workouts and taking some ownership…I think the team that wins it all this year is gonna be the team that’s really getting an edge during this time – kind of like the Giants in 2011.”

King on the proposed Sky Judge officiating position: “I like the concept of it, because it’s another attempt to get the play on the field right. I know the coaches are passionate about it. But a full-time official to lord over the officials on the field would leave the game with two ways to stop the clock and initiate either a review of the play or a crew conference on the field…Is that really what is best for the game?”

King on the proposed fourth-and-15 play to replace onside kicks: “I think what the refusal of teams to vote for a fourth-and-15 option instead of an onside kick comes down to the quote from Competition Committee chair Rich McKay: ‘There is definitely the theory that you don’t want to make the comeback too easy.’”

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

Chris Simms Top 40 Quarterback Rankings

Chris Simms continues to unveil his list of the top 40 quarterbacks in the NFL on the Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and “PFT Live” with the QBs ranked 31-35.

Beginning last week and culminating Thursday, June 25 with his top two quarterbacks in the league, Simms will release two selections daily every Monday-Thursday on “PFT Live.”

Simms, a third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2003 NFL Draft who played eight NFL seasons, will also offer in-depth player breakdowns and rankings explanations throughout each week on Chris Simms Unbuttoned.

31. Nick Foles, Chicago
32. Case Keenum, Cleveland
33. Jameis Winston, New Orleans
34. Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers
35. Jarrett Stidham, New England
36. Taysom Hill, New Orleans
37. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
38. Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago
39. Dwayne Haskins, Washington
40. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami

 

The following are highlights from Chris Simms’ quarterback rankings:

No. 35: Jarrett Stidham, New England Patriots

Simms: “He is the heir apparent (to Tom Brady)…This guy was a first-round talent in my opinion coming out of the draft two years ago…I would be more shocked if he’s not still the (Patriots’) quarterback six or seven years from now than I am if he ends up not being the quarterback after this year…He reminds me a little of Tony Romo…I think he was misevaluated coming out of college because of a poor team his last year there at Auburn. I think he was every bit in the class of Drew Lock or Daniel Jones or Dwayne Haskins.”

No. 34: Tyrod Taylor, Los Angeles Chargers

Simms: “My big thing with Tyrod Taylor is probably his conservative nature more than anything else. I know he can run and make some plays there. I know he can throw bombs down the field and strike that way…He is capable of doing all these types of things, I just want more of it…He needs to have a more aggressive frame of mind…There are a lot of starter traits in Tyrod Taylor’s game.”

No. 33: Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

Simms: “I love his talent. When he’s on his game, it’s as good as anybody in football. It’s top 10 talent in the league…He’s just too careless with the football. Do I think a guy like Sean Payton might be able to turn him around and change how he looks at the game? Certainly…His good is as good as anybody in the game. The problem is, his bad is worse than the top 40 quarterbacks in football…I really like the player. I think he’s going to go in the right direction now that he’s underneath Sean Payton and that tutelage there (in New Orleans).”

No. 32: Case Keenum, Cleveland Browns

Simms: “He’s underrated…He’s not your prototypical franchise-type quarterback, so people are always looking to replace him or move on. His talent doesn’t jump off the screen always…but I think he’s a low-level starter or one of the best backups in football…There are some guys that are behind him that have more talent than him, but I think he has more talent than people realize, along with some really good game experience, which is the reason I have him in front of guys like Dwayne Haskins.”

No. 31: Nick Foles, Chicago Bears

Simms: “The fact that I have (Foles) at No. 31 and Mitchell Trubisky at No. 38, that tells you who I think is better and who should start, and that is Nick Foles…If I’m Chicago, I am starting him. He’s not going to leave a lot of yards or completions or plays that were there to be had on the field…I think he can make a lot more high-level type throws than Mitchell Trubisky.”

To listen to the full player breakdowns on Chris Simms Unbuttoned, click here.

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

    • Lunch Talk Live: NBC Sports’ hour-long, daily sports talk show, which is hosted by Mike Tirico, continues each weekday at Noon ET on NBCSN.
    • The Rich Eisen Show: Rich Eisen, a four-time Sports Emmy studio host nominee and NFL Network’s first on-air talent, brings his Los Angeles-based The Rich Eisen Show to NBCSN on weekdays at 1 p.m. ET.
    • Super Bowl Week in America, reliving seven of the most memorable NBC Super Bowls over seven days, kicks off tonight at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN with Super Bowl XIII.
    • PFT Live: Mike Florio and Chris Simms continue to discuss offseason storylines.
    • Simms Unbuttoned Podcast: Simms beings to unveil his Top 40 NFL quarterbacks, discussing Nos. 31-40 throughout the week.

 

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 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.

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