Drew Brees(notes) is headed to South Florida this weekend on the heels of what he told me Sunday was his and his team's best performance since he joined the Saints in 2006 – a 48-27 thrashing of the Giants that left little doubt as to which NFL team is the most impressive to date.
An early MVP frontrunner (along with the Colts' Peyton Manning(notes)), Brees and his undefeated team will face the Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium on Sunday. And barring injury or a freakish dropoff in play, Brees will be returning to the same stadium in three months or so to cap a successful season.
Either he'll play in the Pro Bowl, which takes place in South Florida instead of Hawaii a week before the Super Bowl this season, or, if the Saints (5-0) keep playing at this insanely high level, Brees will charge through the tunnel as the last New Orleans player introduced before Super Bowl XLIV.
The question is this: Who else is headed for a similar fate? Given that Manning and the Patriots' Tom Brady(notes) are also all but certain to play in one of the two games, it's a much tougher ticket than you might expect.
In the NFC, the Cardinals' Kurt Warner(notes) is continuing his career revival by putting up big numbers for the defending conference champs. An even older quarterback, Brett Favre(notes), appears headed for big things as the driving force behind the 6-0 Vikings. Throw in Donovan McNabb(notes), Tony Romo(notes), Eli Manning(notes), Matt Ryan(notes), Jay Cutler(notes) and Aaron Rodgers(notes), and it's scary how many premium passers are competing for two or three spots.
Things are only slightly less log-jammed in the AFC, where Peyton Manning and Brady will be virtual Pro Bowl locks for the rest of their careers. If you're Ben Roethlisberger(notes), Carson Palmer(notes), Philip Rivers(notes), Joe Flacco(notes), Kyle Orton(notes) (yep, it's time to start wrapping your head around that) or Matt Schaub(notes) (currently second in the NFL in passing yards and sixth in passer rating), getting to Miami without a conference title will be a challenging endeavor.
We'll be keeping an eye on the Pro Bowl quarterback derby as the weeks go by, and as the drama unfolds, it's reasonable to expect that the players throwing passes for the teams at the top of these rankings are the most likely to be basking in Land Shark love come late January and early February.
Six weeks into a wild season in which last year's best September-through-December team, the Titans, just lost 59-0 to the Patriots to fall to 0-6, we have a lot of questions about the current NFL landscape.
Here are 32 of them, for your inquisitive enjoyment:
1. New Orleans Saints: Is their offensive line indomitable, or do Brees and Sean Payton just make it seem that way?
2. Indianapolis Colts: Am I just imagining things, or did Peyton throw four more touchdown passes during the bye week?
6. New York Giants: Who feels more degraded: a coed who shows up on a "Girls Gone Wild" video following a drunken Mardi Gras rampage or Tom Coughlin and his defensive assistants watching film of Sunday's undressing at the Superdome?
7. New England Patriots: When the Pats scored that eighth touchdown on Jeff Fisher's Titans, did senior football advisor Floyd Reese become so aroused that he had to excuse himself?
9. Pittsburgh Steelers: When Troy Polamalu(notes) threw away that knee brace before Sunday's game, was there a doctor on the Steelers' sidelines – or, for that matter, on earth – brave enough to order him to put it back on?
12. Philadelphia Eagles: Did Andy Reid just fall into a Black Hole – and how quickly can the big fella find his way out?
13. Arizona Cardinals: Did Sunday mark the unofficial end of their extended preseason?
18. Houston Texans: After his free-flowing moment at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday, does guard Chris (Yellowish) White realize he's the 21st century's answer to former Redskins and Broncos lineman Mark (Stink) Schlereth?
19. Miami Dolphins: Yo, breathless TV commentators – is it possible that the Wildcat is neither a trend that's revolutionizing pro football nor an absolute travesty of a gimmick that will soon fall by the wayside?
20. San Diego Chargers: After two years of flailing through the first few months of the season before turning it on at the last moment, they don't really think they're getting out of this mess, do they?
23. Oakland Raiders: Can JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey(notes) and some of the Raiders' other offensive players please exhibit one-eighth of the passion displayed by rookie wideout Louis Murphy(notes)?
25. Seattle Seahawks: After Darnell Dockett(notes) spent half of Sunday's game in the Seattle backfield, is Matt Hasselbeck(notes) all too aware of the genesis of the Cardinals defensive tackle's nickname?
27. Washington Redskins: Will Vinny Cerrato's next demand be that Jim Zorn wear a Bose noise-canceling headset during Monday night's game against the Eagles?
30. Cleveland Browns: If Joshua Cribbs(notes) really wants to force the issue, shouldn't he stop five yards short of the end zone on his next breakaway kickoff return and demand his contract be negotiated?
32. St. Louis Rams: If Donnie Avery(notes) decides to bust out the "Stanky Leg" toward the end of next Sunday's blowout defeat to the Colts, how awesome would it be to see Peyton fire a football at the receiver's non-stanky leg?
- Peyton Manning