Welcome to the Fifth Quarter, the only NFL recap column you’ll ever need. It’s the only one to provide a full day’s supply of Vitamin C, after all. Here’s what was going on around the rest of the league while you were selfishly focused on your home team and your fantasy players.
So as you probably heard, Sunday night featured the return of Peyton Manning to the city of Indianapolis. Normally when guys go back to their former place of employment, it's not quite such a big deal. They didn't exactly bronze the time-clock where I used to bag groceries, you know. (Although they should have. We won only one fewer Super Bowl than Peyton did in Indy. Zing.)
Nonetheless, The Powers That Be decided that Manning's return to Indy would be An Event, and everybody with any access to the public's eyes and ears, yours truly included, chimed in with thoughts, perspective and background on the Manning-Indianapolis connection. Heck, the NFL Network even dragged poor Brett Favre off a tractor somewhere in Mississippi to talk about homecomings. Anything worth hyping, the thinking goes, is worth overhyping.
By our rough count, this is the third such mega-event of this still-young NFL season, behind Seattle-San Francisco and Manning Bowl. (Denver-Dallas and New Orleans-New England were big only in retrospect.) But here's the rub: unlike those other two Events, this one actually lived up to all the hype. Peyton seemed genuinely touched at Indy's gratitude. Andrew Luck decided he'd heard about enough of all this Manning business. And the game itself was in doubt until the final minutes, which is really all you can ask.
Look, we all get hype fatigue. You can only see so many exploding graphics and Carrie Underwood enticements for a bomb of a game like Monday's Vikings-Giants mess before you get hopelessly cynical about the entire process. But Sunday night's game reminded us that it's what's on the field that matters, and every so often, despite all of our best attempts to screw it up, this is really one hell of a fine game.
Now, who's ready for Manning-Brady on Nov. 24?
In which we recap every game in seven words. Ready ... go!
Seattle 34, Arizona 22. You cannot stop Russell Wilson without artillery.
Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 23. Falcons decontaminated failure stench from Bucs' lockers.
Carolina 30, St. Louis 15. Sorry, St. Louis: "Tebow coming!" talk coming.
Cincinnati 27, Detroit 24. Second Cincy game-winning FG this year.
San Diego 24, Jacksonville 6. Jags will score negative points very soon.
Buffalo 23, Miami 21. Not hearing "Miami has arrived" much anymore.
New York Jets 30, New England 27. Belichick jobbed by refs? We're all heartbroken.
Dallas 17, Philadelphia 3. That USC job's looking nice, eh, Chip?
Washington 45, Chicago 41. Cutlergroin is now a thing. Thanks, Washington.
San Francisco 31, Tennessee 17. Only one NFC wildcard spot still open.
Green Bay 31, Cleveland 13. Aaron Rodgers reminds you he's still here.
Kansas City 17, Houston 16. Worst 7-0 team ever? So freaking what?
Pittsburgh 19, Baltimore 16. Many zero-win teams defeat reigning champs.
Indianapolis 39, Denver 33. Peyton returned to Indy! You hear that?
New York Giants 23, Minnesota 7. The Worst NFL Game In Human History.
Teams on bye: Raiders, Saints
Champ: Roy Helu Jr., Washington Redskins. Did you have this cat on your fantasy team? No? Then you missed out on three touchdowns. It's about time that Washington had something to get excited about rather than the name change. (And then, hours later, The Onion came along and put the entire debate in perfect perspective.)
Chump: Josh Freeman and anyone who thought he was ready to start, Minnesota Vikings. Monday night's football game should serve as proof positive to any idiot who ever thinks you can drop a player into an unfamiliar offensive scheme and expect him to have any kind of success. Freeman looked more confused than a Kardashian in a classroom Monday night. If he'd been quarterbacking your Turkey Bowl team, you'd have yanked him and put in Uncle Rico pronto.
Just take in the glory of this whole photo. Take it in. You've got something seriously good when cargo-shorts-and-hockey-mask/wig bro there on the right is the third-strangest of the three. I was initially spooked by the baby in the middle, but that's just a decoration, not a real child. A spooky-as-hell decoration, and one I'm going to put in the corner at the next kids' birthday party I hit, but a decoration nonetheless. So that leaves divided bro there on the left. Come on, dude. Unless you're on Peyton Manning's payroll, and judging by the stitching on your jeans I'm guessing you're not, you have to commit one way or the other.
Got your own quality tailgate/party/fan photos? Hit us at email@example.com and share.
There's plenty of good writing every day on the NFL. Here are a few choice reads to keep you busy while there's no football. Because the other alternatives are talking to your family or doing chores, and nobody wants that. (Send us your favorite words of the week.)
• Matt Hasselbeck has helped mentor Andrew Luck via friendship, rivalry and a rigged footrace. (Yahoo Sports)
• Former Pro Bowler Sean Gilbert could challenge for the executive director position of the NFLPA, and could tear up the current collective bargaining agreement. (Yahoo Sports)
• What the hell happened with Carson Palmer, and is there any hope of salvaging his career? (Grantland)
• Peyton Manning of the Miami Dolphins? Peyton Manning of the New York Jets? It could have happened. (The MMQB)
• RIP Bum Phillips, who was a defensive innovator in a way few other coaches could even imagine. (Sports Illustrated)
Each week, we’ll make a random Super Bowl pick based on trends, stats or general nonquantifiable gut feelings. One of these weeks, we’ll be right. Probably right after both conference championships.
Seahawks vs. Colts. Another potential rematch, one which would give Seattle a chance to avenge its loss from a couple weeks back. As expected, Seattle is looking like the class of the NFC, even though a win on the road against Arizona isn't quite the same thing as a win on the road against, say, New England. On the flip side, we've got Indianapolis, which firmly established itself as a Super Bowl threat with the convincing takedown of Denver on Sunday night.
Super Bowl picks, full season: Denver 3x, New Orleans 2x, Seattle 3x, Indianapolis 2x, New England, San Francisco.
And that's a wrap for this week's edition of Fifth Quarter. Got a question? Comment? Concern? Rant? Hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @jaybusbee. We’ll run your words here or in Thursday’s weekly letters column. For now, enjoy the week. It's not long 'til more football!