Brees' pursuit of Unitas revealing of both men (cont.)
Miami kicker Dan Carpenter (No. 5): While precocious rookies like Blair Walsh and Greg Zuerlein (a perfect 8-of-8 for the Rams from 46 yards and beyond in his first month as a pro), Carpenter has already cost the Dolphins one win -- missing two late field-goal tries against the Jets in a three-point loss. Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel had a great stat Friday morning: Carpenter is 10-of-25 from more than 45 yards in the last two seasons.
That's the kind of inaccuracy that lands a kicker on the unemployment line. I reference Carpenter because the Dolphins should be in a competitive game in Cincinnati, one that can be won or lost in the final minutes. Hard to see Miami sticking with him much longer if he keeps missing.
1. Peyton-Brady XIII. DVR the game, because this 13th meeting between the two giants of the game (Brady 8 wins, Manning 4) could be the last one. Brady's 35, and he swears he'll play 'til he's a great-grandfather. His longevity's not in question. Manning's 36, and nothing is guaranteed with his physical condition. Enjoy the 4:25 p.m. ET start from Foxboro -- and the finish, whatever happens. FYI, Denver and New England would meet (in Foxboro, again) next year only if the two teams finish in the same place in the AFC East and West standings this year.
2. Early games rule. Vick at Roethlisberger, in the Keystone State showdown that happens once every four years. Green Bay at Indy, featuring the first matchup between Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck -- who could be the Brady and Manning of the next decade. Or, Atlanta at Washington, featuring the first game pitting Matt Ryan against Robert Griffin III -- who could also be the Brady and Manning of the next decade. Baltimore at Kansas City, where Matt Cassel will run for his life and try to save his job at the same time. This is a very good slate of early-Sunday games, even with the schedule reduced to 14 games with the two byes.
3. Kevin Kolb trying to find some blocking, somewhere. If that was a 4-0 team that walked into the Ed Jones Dome Thursday night, my name is Art Vandelay.
4. The Colts, plodding on. At Lucas Oil Field Sunday, "Chuckstrong'' T-shirts will be sold, and donations accepted for leukemia research, as a tribute to rehabbing coach Chuck Pagano. The game's going to be tough, too. Packers are in town.
5. Tebow Time. It doesn't matter what Mark Sanchez says, or what rumors are out there about supposed pressure from owner Woody Johnson on the staff to start the backup. If Sanchez struggles mightily Monday night, there's going to be no good reason Rex Ryan won't go to Tim Tebow the following Sunday against Indianapolis at home.
6. Spagnuolo's D. The Saints have no one to rush the passer, which means Brees had better not only break that record Sunday night, but also throw for 400 yards. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo presides over a unit that has gone five and a half quarters without sacking the quarterback, and hasn't allowed fewer than 420 total yards in a game yet.
7. The waffling NFL. Did the NFL really ban Gregg Williams and Sean Payton for the year? I couldn't tell, what with Williams in the Ed Jones Dome Thursday night to watch the team that employs him, the Rams, and Payton due in the Superdome Sunday night for his second visit to the Saints since being suspended and ordered to have no contact with the team. How many exceptions can the league make for Williams and Payton? Look, either you suspend coaches or you don't. Either you ban them from being around their teams or you don't. Can't have it both ways.
8. Turnover in the league office. There will be pressure on Roger Goodell to find a fall guy for the officiating debacle by the time the league convenes for its annual fall meeting later this month. And there will be pressure to reorganize the officiating department, which I think is coming for 2013. I can tell you this: There is a big chill between the regular officials and the league office, including VP Ray Anderson and officiating czar Carl Johnson, right now. Stay tuned.
9. Seattle chasing Cam Newton. The formidable Seahawks rush got barely a sniff of Sam Bradford Sunday. If that repeats Sunday in Charlotte, the Seahawks will wake up on the bottom of the NFC West Monday morning.
10. Brian Hartline. A man averaging 113 receiving yards a game can't hide for long, and I expect Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to have his guys hit him early and often in the five-yard bump zone Sunday.