Peter King previews the Super Bowl LV matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs, and breaks down the blockbuster Matthew Stafford–Jared Goff trade in this week’s Super Bowl edition of Football Morning in America, available now exclusively on NBCSports.com. King also speaks with Buccaneers defense coordinator Todd Bowles and Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and discusses the status of Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Across NBC Sports, Peacock’s weekday block of NFL programming from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET, which will provide extensive coverage of Super Bowl LV, includes 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, Brother From Another, with Michael Holley and Michael Smith, at 3 p.m. ET, and PFT PM at 5 p.m. ET. On Monday, Safety Blitz, featuring Rodney Harrison and Jac Collinsworth, streams at 6 p.m. ET, and Chris Simms Unbuttoned streams at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday-Friday. ProFootballTalk.com continues to provide the latest offseason news, and the Rotoworld Football Podcast and Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast discuss Super Bowl LV.
The following are highlights from this week’s edition of Football Morning in America:
SUPER BOWL LV
King on the Buccaneers-Chiefs matchup in Week 12: “No one will think much of the first meeting of the Super Bowl LV combatants, Kansas City and Tampa Bay, by looking at the final score. Nine weeks ago, in the same stadium that will host this year’s Big Game, the Chiefs beat the Bucs 27-24. But this was the best Patrick Mahomes–Tyreek Hill game ever, explosive and telepathic and perfectly same-pagish.”
King on the Tom Brady-Patrick Mahomes matchup: “History will tell, but this might be the Granddaddy of all QB matchups – and in such a weird environment, with the stadium one-third full.”
Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to King on facing the Chiefs again: “Well, the good thing is, we’ve seen them before. Bad thing is, they killed us. As a defense, we were embarrassed that day. I just told ‘em, ‘There’s 16 of these games, and we’re on to the next one.’ No sense in beating them into the ground.”
Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy to King on facing the Buccaneers again: “Did you watch them in Green Bay? Did you see that secondary? All I gotta do is turn on the tape. It’s a different defense, to me. The secondary is playing exceptional football, creating turnovers, playing physical.”
Bowles on Tampa Bay’s young secondary facing Mahomes again: “These guys don’t have much of a history of the game and that’s a good thing…Everything you think they should be nervous about, they don’t even know about. So I’m not too worried about the big stage.”
King on his key to the game: “I think the key to the game will be Tampa’s defense. Brady, I believe, will score enough for Tampa Bay to win…The question is, will Bowles, edge rushers Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul, and a young secondary have the answers for Andy Reid, Bieniemy, Mahomes and that all-time explosive offense? … I won’t be surprised if Pierre-Paul or Barrett is the Super Bowl MVP if the Bucs win. That’s how big a role they could play in this game.”
Bieniemy on Mahomes in last year’s Super Bowl: “I still find it fascinating that a 24-year-old kid walks to the sidelines before the play, all calm, Super Bowl on the line, and asks you, ‘Do we have time to run Wasp?’ … That’s the great thing about Pat. When Pat wants to run something, we don’t restrict him from anything, but when you instill that confidence in your players, and you give him that ability to suggest a play like that, you know that he’s gonna find a way to make it happen.”
King on Mahomes: “I think Mahomes will need to be at his improvisational best Sunday. He’s not going to have the time he normally does, and I’m sure he knows that, and I’m sure his mind is working overtime to figure out which play could be this year’s Wasp. When I watched the first meeting from November, Mahomes was simply too comfortable, especially early.”
Bowles on Kansas City’s offense: “They’re in attack mode all the time. Andy’s the nicest guy in the world – there’s a reason everybody likes him so much. He’s also one of the smartest coaches in this league. He’ll get a read on you, and he’ll expose you to the bitter end. He’ll stab you about 50 times. Andy’s like Roberta Flack. Killing me softly.”
King on Bowles and Bieniemy: “Three of the four coordinators in this game are Black (including Bucs OC Byron Leftwich). Collectively, Bowles and Bieniemy had seven interviews for head-coaching jobs in January. When I asked them about it, neither seemed particularly surprised they’d gone 0-for-7.”
Bowles on the hiring cycle: “For me and Eric, it’s two good coaches. Whenever people on the outside – ownership, media, anyone else – when they start saying ‘coaches’ instead of ‘Black coaches,’ then things will start to get better…The fact that it’s such a big deal about the head-coaching thing, it puts a big emphasis on it from the outside. Eric’s trying to win, I’m trying to win. The big deal is made from the outside. The change has also got to be made from the outside, because we can only do so much.”
Bieniemy: “I always tell everybody, I’m just a ball coach. I didn’t ask to be chosen to be the face of whatever representation. I just want to make sure that I’m admired and recognized for the things that I have accomplished and worked towards in this profession. That’s all you can ask for. I think all of us take pride in teaching young men and helping them become better people.”
King on the trade: “This is a trade I really like for both teams. Very good for the Rams from 2021 to, say, 2024; very good for the Lions in, say, 2023 to 2026…Fascinating story. Balancing the scales this morning, I believe the deal is quite fair for both teams.”
King on the Rams trading for Matthew Stafford: “Sean McVay knows the football world thinks the Rams paid too much for Matthew Stafford…Knowing McVay, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care, because he got the quarterback he really wanted for 2021 – and he can now enter the offseason designing plays and deep shots for a quarterback he thinks can win a Super Bowl.”
King on the Lions and Stafford: “The Lions wanted to do right by Stafford, and Stafford’s preferred team was the Rams. The Lions didn’t want another disaffected star (Calvin Johnson) leaving the organization all ticked off. Ownership and the front office were determined to try their best to accommodate Stafford and send him to a team where he’d have a good chance to win. The Rams were number one.”
King on the Lions: “New coach Dan Campbell and new GM Brad Holmes had this in common: They both wanted (Jared) Goff, and not just as a bridge quarterback. As director of college scouting for the Rams when Goff was picked in 2016, Holmes favored him inside the Rams draft room – and still does, I’m told. Campbell, I’m also told, liked Goff not just as a bridge quarterback but as the Lions quarterback of the future.”
King on other teams that were interested in Stafford: “Indianapolis was very interested. I am sure owner Jim Irsay wanted Stafford to follow in the recent footsteps of (Peyton) Manning, (Andrew) Luck and (Philip) Rivers…I hear San Francisco and Washington were in it. I hear Carolina and Denver were aggressively into it.”
UPDATES ON 11
King on Lions GM Brad Holmes: “The Detroit GM, hired away from the Rams in mid-January, had some institutional knowledge to make a gigantic deal in his GM debut. Meaning: He knew Sean McVay was down on Jared Goff – perhaps very down. He also knew McVay would have no problems over-paying for a quarterback if he loved him, and McVay loved Stafford…All in all, a very good weekend for Holmes and the Lions.”
King on Deshaun Watson’s reported trade request: “It’s gotten to the point where, I’m told, even some respected veterans on the teams have, in effect, told Watson, Go ahead. Go. We love you. We don’t want you to get trapped here. You don’t owe us anything.”
King on Watson: “I’ve heard a few other things about Watson. The veterans on the team supported him going to owner Cal McNair a month ago and telling him the situation in the locker room was dire, and there was no faith in the management or direction of the team. When the team didn’t interview a Watson favorite, Robert Saleh, that turned off the locker room. When the team chose to keep EVP Jack Easterby (a major bone of contention with players, who do not trust him), that further soured the players, including Watson.”
King on Texans GM Nick Caserio: “Wisely, he is strongly opposed to trading Watson. For 20 of his 45 years on this planet, Caserio worked for the Patriots with Bill Belichick as his boss. So you’d think that has given him a veneer of toughness – which his friends in football say is true…It almost seems unfair that the biggest decision/stand Caserio will make as a GM, ever, could come in the first year of his GM career. Will he play hardball with Watson, or will he trade him for almost assuredly less than his value?”
King on Chiefs GM Brett Veach and Buccaneers GM Jason Licht: “You won’t hear the names Brett Veach and Jason Licht much this week. There are too many other stories and people to focus. But the two Super Bowl GMs are both on great runs. Not good. Great…In this odd year, with Veach often working out of his basement and Licht out of his kids’ toy room, both men deserve a bow for their recent mid-round and late-round (draft) work.”
NEWS & NOTES
King on the NFL’s head coach hiring process: “Losing franchises will argue against this, because they want the advantage of an extra month to get going on their offseasons. But the downsides are too significant. Roger Goodell can, and should, compel a vote at the league meetings in March to prevent interviews and hires of coaches and GMs till after the Super Bowl.”
King on the Steelers: “With a good and loyal (Ben) Roethlisberger willing to do whatever is needed to re-work his salary under the Steeler cap, it’s likely to happen that Big Ben is the quarterback on opening weekend 2021…I would want Roethlisberger in better shape, and trimmer, than the player who looked old and slow down the stretch of 2020.”
King on Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni: “Yes, Nick Sirianni was evasive and jittery in his introductory press conference Friday. But he should have had help from the men who hired him, owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman, neither of whom answered questions on the day Sirianni debuted in the City of Brotherly Confrontation…I think Sirianni will get better at this. I’ve heard he was great and natural in dealing with his offensive players in Indy.”
King on how his pre-season predictions fared: “What might look more good than bad: My Super Bowl pick – Tampa Bay 30, Baltimore 25.”
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 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, Safety Blitz streams on Monday and Chris Simms Unbuttoned stream Tuesday-Friday.
com continues to provide the latest news and updates.
The Chris Simms Unbuttoned podcast and Rotoworld Football Podcast discuss the Conference Championship games and look ahead to Super Bowl LV.
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.