Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis on Sunday for a showdown — and homecoming — game against the Colts. And now we know that Indy had two great options in spring 2012, when Manning was coming off neck surgery.
The Colts could release Manning and forge ahead with soon-to-be-drafted Andrew Luck. Or the Colts could keep Manning, trade the overall No. 1 draft pick and get a haul similar to what the Rams got for trading the overall No. 2 pick to Washington.
Indy did the former and is in great shape. The Colts made the playoffs last season with Luck as a rookie quarterback, and Indy seems likely to make the playoffs again, leading the AFC South at 4-2. If the Colts had kept Manning, well, the guy still can wing it a little, as evidenced by Denver’s historic offense.
Now Indy hosts the Broncos, and the Colts plan a pregame tribute to Manning. Which I think is a great idea. First off, it’s deserved. Peyton Manning is an Indiana icon. He deserves to be celebrated upon his return. And second, who’s to say that that’s not the best way to attack Manning? Get him all emotional, maybe you throw him off his game. Nothing else has done that this season, when the 6-0 Broncos have scored 265 points, which is 44.2 points a game.
Let’s get to the games.
Seahawks at Cardinals: Seattle 19-10. Seattle seemed unbeatable after that rout of San Francisco on Sept. 15, but do you realize how close the Seahawks are to 3-3? Seattle’s last two wins came in overtime (vs. Houston) and by seven over Tennessee in a game tied 10-10 after three quarters.
Buccaneers at Falcons: Atlanta 30-13. The Falcons don’t play the Texans. Too bad. My Super Bowl picks would be quite the regular season game. They’re a combined 3-8 right now.
Bengals at Lions: Detroit 27-17. Don’t look now, but the Lions are atop the NFC North, which is one tough division.
Bills at Dolphins: Miami 18-13. Buffalo is the NFL’s hard-luck team. The 2-4 Bills have three close losses, including to New England and Cincinnati.
Patriots at Jetropolitans: New England 31-6. The Patriots’ comeback win over the Saints was among Tom Brady’s finest hours. And maybe the springboard to even greater things.
Cowboys at Eagles: Philadelphia 34-31. Dallas will score, even without DeMarco Murray. But can the crippled Cowboy defense slow Chip Kelly’s offense?
Bears at Redskins: Chicago 29-21. Jay Cutler is thriving under new Bears coach Marc Trestman. We’ll see how long it lasts. I’m not trying to be a wisenheimer. It could take hold.
Rams at Panthers: Carolina 23-17. Win here, and St. Louis could stake its claim as a playoff contender. Lose here, and the Rams are among the NFC’s great unwashed.
Chargers at Jaguars: San Diego 38-12. Justin Blackmon figures to have a ton of catches for Jacksonville, but the Chargers have a real team.
49ers at Titans: San Francisco 27-16. I’m not a believer in Tennessee. I am a believer in the 49ers.
Browns at Packers: Green Bay 20-10. Brandon Weeden followed his inspiring Thursday night victory over the Bills with one of the worst interceptions in NFL memory as Cleveland lost to Detroit. The quarterback discrepancy in this game is wide.
Texans at Chiefs: Kansas City 21-9. KC marches toward a 9-0 record going into its Nov. 17 game at Denver. After Houston, the Chiefs have Cleveland, Buffalo and a bye.
Ravens at Steelers: Baltimore 23-17. Don’t laugh, but Pittsburgh is not out of the race. Win this game, and the Steelers likely are just a half-game out of second place. Cincinnati leads the division at 4-2 but figures to be 4-3 after playing Detroit. The Steelers, who started 0-4, could be 2-4, just 11/2 games out of first place in the AFC North.
Broncos at Colts: Denver 33-27. Indianapolis can’t keep up with its old pal. Beating Denver means scoring big. Luck’s probably not up to the task.
Vikings at Giants: New York 24-21. Among the worst Monday Night matchups in history. The 0-6 G-Men against 1-4 Minnesota.
Last week: 11-4. Season: 58-33.