THIS WEEKEND'S BEST GAME
Denver at Indianapolis
The time: 8:30 p.m. ET
The line: Broncos by 6 1/2
The story: Once, this was supposed to be an emotional homecoming for Peyton Manning. Now it looks more like a celebrity roast, with Manning advised to steer clear of welcome wagons driven by Jim Irsay.
The Colts' owner provided the back story to Manning's return to Indianapolis with comments that seemed critical of his stay there. Denver coach John Fox called them "a cheap shot." Former Colts general manager Bill Polian was not amused. Manning said nothing, which tells you what he thinks.
The fact of the matter is: Irsay should not have said anything and let Manning enjoy the moment. But he did, and, frankly, the truth hurts. The knock on Manning is his playoff record (it is 9-11), but the last guy you would expect to point that out is Irsay.
Or maybe not. As someone said, it is just Irsay being Irsay, and if you follow him on Twitter you know what we are talking about.
Anyway, Irsay's Colts are 6-0 in regular-season games immediately following losses the past two years. But this is Manning, and this is Manning with a purpose. Oddsmakers believe Indy does not have the ammunition to stay with an opponent that averages 46 points per game, but it might not have to. The Colts' defense is underrated, allowing only 13 fourth-quarter points, best in the league.
Then there is Andrew Luck, and talk about pressure. With his comments about Manning, Irsay put more heat on Luck to succeed -- now and for the rest of his career -- and that will not be easy with Manning and Von Miller, back from a six-game suspension, up next. All I know is that a game that was supposed to be Manning vs. Luck has become something more: Manning vs. Irsay. And that is one the Colts owner cannot win.
Something to consider: Denver has eight consecutive road victories, the most in franchise history. With another win the Broncos tie the 2003-04 New England Patriots for the third-longest regular-season winning streak (18) in NFL history.
THREE OTHERS YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT
Dallas at Philadelphia
The time: 1 p.m. ET
The line: Eagles by 2 1/2
The story: What is the best team in the NFC East? We are about to find out. Philadelphia is the surprise, not so much because the Eagles are 3-3 but because they are winning with Nick Folk.
He is the quarterback who relieved an injured Michael Vick two weeks ago against the Giants, and he is the quarterback who won last Sunday in Tampa, site of his only two victories as a starter. Foles does not make mistakes -- at least he is not making them now -- which could make him the favorite to keep this job awhile.
Tony Romo, of course, does make mistakes. But he also makes a lot of plays, and he better keep the record clean here. Not only has he lost running back DeMarco Murray for this one, but star defensive end DeMarcus Ware is iffy, too.
Then there is this: Romo wins in Philadelphia every other year. He is 3-2 there, with seven touchdowns and four interceptions, and his last start was ... uh-huh, a Dallas victory. That means he is due for a loss, especially if Foles continues his error-free play.
Something to consider: The Eagles are the fourth team in NFL history to produce 400 yards in offense in each of their first six games.
New England at N.Y. Jets
The time: 1 p.m. ET
The line: Patriots by 3 1/2
The story: The Jets' Geno Smith insists he can be an "elite quarterback," and that is great except ... there is already one here, and Smith is advised to take notes. Tom Brady may not be producing big numbers this year, but he is 5-1 and winning with a cast of backboards disguised as wide receivers.
In short, he is Tom Brady again, and that is bad news for the Jets and everyone else in the AFC East.