AFC Power Poll

Is 12 Years a Slave Really a Best Picture Lock?

Dustin Parker for Grantland Week 2 vs. "Breaking Bad"

A Prime-Time Dilemma

The Sports Guy makes his Week 2 picks while pondering whether to watch Breaking Bad or Seahawks-Niners

When NBC launched its Football Night in America package in 2006, it avoided the last Sopranos season but overlapped with Season 4 of The Wire for 13 solid weeks. Back then, most people couldn’t record two shows at the same time, and you didn’t have to worry about an unexpected moment being spoiled on Twitter — you know, like OMAR AND BROTHER MOUZONE KILLING STRINGER.1 So you simply recorded The Wire and watched the game live. And that became the habit on Sunday nights, at least for me — record the good Sunday-night show (Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Dexter, whatever), avoid it until the football game finished, then throw that episode down like television dessert. It’s always more fun to watch sports live, right?

Or so we thought.

Because this final season of Breaking Bad changed the rules. (Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything if you aren’t caught up yet.) It’s the greatest final season of any television show. At least so far. Two different times this season (including last week), the show ended in such an electric way that I didn’t even know what to do with myself. After last Sunday’s episode, I somehow ended up in my backyard — I don’t even know how I got there. And there are three episodes left! I know we’ll see other gripping television seasons, but will we ever see one that painstakingly laid out the finish line over the course of a few years, then hit the final turn and broke into a Usain Bolt–like sprint?

An even better sports analogy: It’s the one show that may have figured out how to hit a walk-off grand slam. Whether that happens or not, it has already made history: For the first time, I find myself choosing an already-filmed, can-watch-it-whenever-I-want television show over live football. Last week, I watched the first quarter of Cowboys-Giants, then jumped into my DVR library at 6:17 p.m. (Pacific Time) and cranked up the still-recording episode of Breaking Bad. At this point, my kids could have said, “Hey, Dad, we’re gonna go outside and play in traffic,” and I probably would have grunted, “OK, sounds good.”

I spent the next 45 minutes inhaling the show, ripping through commercials and finishing in real time at 7:01. Sixty seconds later, I was standing outside and wondering how I got there. I regained a grip by 7:05, restarted the Cowboys game from my jumping-off point, zipped through the commercials (and there were a million of them) and caught up a little after halftime ended. So, really, I missed ONE live quarter.

Now here’s where you say, “I thought you were one of those ADD sports fan weirdos who built an office with multiple TVs so you could watch four games every Sunday. Why wouldn’t you watch Breaking Bad while monitoring the Sunday-night game?” Simple answer: I don’t want any distractions during these last few episodes. I don’t want to look at e-mails or glance at texts, much less divide my attention between a great TV show and a football game. Not happening. You’d do that with forgettable shows like Ray Donovan and MTV’s The Challenge, not the walk-off grand slam season of Breaking Bad. Actually, who am I kidding? I wouldn’t do that with The Challenge, either.

OK, so what about this Sunday? Why would any self-respecting NFL fan want to miss one live second of a Niners-Seahawks game in 2013? Especially when …

• It’s the best rivalry in football right now. (Hold on, I’m pouring out a belated 40 for Colts-Patriots and Ravens-Steelers, our last two joint holders of the Rivalry Championship Belt. At least Colts-Patriots transferred its feudal energy to Broncos-Patriots. That Ravens-Steelers rivalry fell apart faster than the Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs.) Beyond the NFC West title stakes and the added animosity from playing twice (and this season, maybe even three times), consider that these are the league’s two most physical teams — especially because the Seahawks take tons of PEDs. (I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Only a FEW of the Seahawks take PEDs.)2

• It’s early, and I’m sure this will change 10 million times over the next 16 weeks, but the Niners and Seahawks are two of the NFL’s three best teams at this moment. The other: New England. (Just kidding, it’s Denver. I just wanted to pretend one last time that the Patriots are still good.)

• They’re playing the game in Seattle, which matters because Seattle and Green Bay are the two best NFL stadiums for television viewers (and probably in that order). I love the crazy Seahawks fans. I love seeing the sea of dark green. I love when the cameras vibrate because it’s so deafeningly loud. I even love when they incessantly show that goofy noise instrument that tells us how loud it’s getting, even though I have no concept of what 112 decibels really means. Oh, it’s almost as loud as a Boeing 747 jet? Um … sure! What Seattle’s home-field advantage accomplished in that 2011 playoff game against New Orleans — when they won outright as double-digit underdogs and murdered thousands of three-team teasers — was really one for the ages. I love all big football games in Seattle if they have even a half-decent team. But THIS team? And against THIS Niners team?

• If that’s not enough, Seahawks fans have decided that they’re going to break the Guinness world record for “loudest crowd” on Sunday night, which is currently held by …

(Hold on, I’ll give you a couple of seconds to guess.)

(And … )


Did you guess that it happened in the Ali Sami Yen Sport Complex Turk Telekom Arena two years ago, by fans of Turkey’s Galatasaray S.K. soccer team? You did? That’s amazing! Apparently, they reached 131.76 decibels — which is probably the sound a Boeing 747 makes if it’s flying over a football stadium filled with shrieking teenage girls at a One Direction concert. But given that David Stern let the Sonics bolt from Seattle five years ago for a much smaller market that restricts their revenue and forces them to make decisions like trading the NBA’s best 2-guard for two bench players and a six-pack of diet soda, if it’s all right with you, I’m going to root for these embattled Seattle fans to break this obscure decibel record.

• Colin Kaepernick vs. Russell Wilson … a.k.a. Brady vs. Manning for the Twitter Generation. And it still has that new-car smell to it. Just 11 months ago, Kaep was fetching Perrier for Alex Smith and Wilson looked 15.2 percent overmatched as Seattle’s unexpected starter. Today, Kaepernick has turned into Randall Cunningham 2.0, while Wilson has evolved into a possible hybrid of Young Brady, Young Montana and Young Brees (only if that hybrid could scramble for a first down whenever he wants).

In general, it’s almost stupefying how entertaining Kaepernick, Wilson, Robert Griffin and Andrew Luck are on a play-to-play basis in a suddenly safety-conscious league. It’s flag football with pads and they’re the big winners. (Well, them and Peyton Manning, who’s on pace to throw 112 touchdowns this season.) Only one downer for the Kaepernick-Wilson rivalry: By rule, all quarterbacks like each other and feel bonded by such a frighteningly complex position. There’s no chance for a Kaep-Wilson beef. This week, a rumor even circulated that they made a friendly “Sunday’s loser has to shave his eyebrows” wager. It turned out to be false, which made me wish the fake bet had been more ridiculous — something like, “Loser has to pretend publicly for two weeks that he thinks Aaron Hernandez was framed and would absolutely ‘take Hernandez as a teammate.'” Maybe there’s still time.

• Pete Carroll vs. Jim Harbaugh … a.k.a. the feud that started when they were college coaches and keeps on going and going. Last spring, Harbaugh even called out Seattle’s multiple PED suspensions and quoted Bo Schembechler by saying, “If you cheat to win, then you’ve already lost.” I thought that was a low blow — not bringing up the PED stuff, but quoting Bo Schembechler. If we could wager on any pair of coaches to trade punches during a postgame handshake, Harbaugh and Carroll would be the overwhelming favorite.

• The fan bases can’t stand each other, either. Did you know that Seahawks fans on Reddit were conspiring to buy sponsored bricks for San Francisco’s soon-to-be-done Levi’s Stadium and put “GO HAWKS!” on them, causing the Niners to announce that they were exercising veto power on the wording for any purchased brick? Did you know they apparently had to ask for additional moderators to help police SB Nation’s Seahawks and 49ers pages because it was getting so ugly on their message boards?

Let’s just hope WE never have to choose between them, because I love both cities … but if I ever have to choose, I’m siding with fresh coffee, grunge music, Singles, Citizen Dick, legalized marijuana, Xavier McDaniel posters, Stephen and Irene, Junior Griffey, Safeco, Steve Largent, the ’87 All-Star Game, Microsoft Windows, serial-killer movies, Gus and DJ, Kemp and GP, Mr. Russell’s House, Rip City beefs, and fresh coffee a second time over Alcatraz, Steph Curry, Pac Bell, trolleys, Twitter, Montana and Rice, Puck and Pedro, the great Warriors crowds, Chinatown, 48 Hrs., Reggie Hammond and Jack Cates … wait a second, I need to think about this more.

• With apologies to Ndamukong Suh and Clay Matthews, Seattle has the NFL’s best villain: Richard Sherman, the talented cornerback who became semi-infamous last season for trash-talking Tom Brady, drawing a four-game PED suspension (and then somehow getting it overturned), then making an intentionally heated, willfully loathsome First Take cameo that inadvertently got me suspended from Twitter by ESPN. Now he’s trying to reinvent himself as a weekly columnist for Peter King’s new football site. I don’t want to jinx it, but he’s on pace to pass Bill Laimbeer and Kareem as my least favorite athlete of all time.

I mention this because San Francisco now has Anquan Boldin, a proud veteran with a ring who doesn’t take shit from anyone and once broke his face going over the middle for a touchdown catch. Again, HE BROKE HIS FACE. And came back a few weeks later! He’s going to like it when Richard Sherman starts barking at him? I’m already nominating this as the NFL’s best player-versus-player feud and it hasn’t even officially started yet. Prediction: This Sunday night, either Walt and Jesse or Sherman and Boldin fight to the death.

• Even in Week 2, it’s a must-win for the Seahawks because they can’t win the NFC West (and, potentially, go for a no. 1 seed and home-field advantage) without beating the Niners at least once. After Kaepernick played so spectacularly last weekend, Vegas got freaked out and made Seattle just 2.5-point favorites. If they win by a field goal, you cover. Maybe five lines per season leave me totally perplexed — this is one of them. (Only possible explanation: Seattle’s offensive line looked uncharacteristically wobbly against Carolina’s excellent front seven last Sunday.) I think the crowd carries the Seahawks on Sunday night, and that anything less than a field goal with these guys at home makes me feel like I’m in a Christmas commercial in which someone is surprising me with a brand-new Lexus covered in a big red ribbon. I’m laying the points.

The bigger question: What’s the TV game plan for Sunday night? I’m watching a quarter, flipping over to Breaking Bad at 6:17, banging it out, then catching up on the DVR’ed second quarter and watching the second half live. It’s a foolproof plan. And it’s going to work next week for the Pittsburgh-Chicago game too. And forget about Week 4 — I don’t care who’s playing, the final episode of Breaking Bad gets priority unless the Patriots are involved.

(Lemme check who’s playing just to be safe.)


New England at Atlanta.

Go figure. As for the rest of the Week 2 picks (home team in caps) …

PATRIOTS (-12) over Jets
I already blew this one. The good news: I’m sparing you my 7,500-word, Unabomber-style rant about how the Patriots squandered the tail end of Brady’s prime and made Pats fans long for the halcyon days of Reche Caldwell, Ben Watson and Jabar Gaffney. The bad news … Nick P. from New York sends along this sobering point: “23-21 over the EJ Manuel-led Bills. 13-10 over the Geno Smith-led Jets. Can we safely declare the Patriots as 2013’s Good Bad-Team?”

(Until Amendola, Vereen and Gronk come back? Absolutely. Notice how I wrote “Until” instead of “Unless.” I don’t want to think about this anymore.)

Chargers (+8.5) over EAGLES
Chris Ryan’s Eaglegasm and Bill Barnwell’s football geekgasm collectively captured what happened for Eagles fans and football fans on Monday night. After Andy Reid left, all Philly fans wanted was a fun team that didn’t make them want to commit a felony. And all football fans wanted was for Chip Kelly to successfully answer the question “What would it be like if the greatest and most inventive Madden player ever took over an NFL offense?” Winner and winner! People are so gung-ho that Vegas bumped this line two points too high, knowing nobody wants to take San Diego when it’s much more fun to take THE MOST ENTERTAINING NFL OFFENSE OF ALL TIME!!!! Thanks for the free points — I’m grabbing the eight and a half. Regardless, Philly’s offense makes me happier than Walt Jr. waiting on Saul at the A-1 Car Wash.

As for the Chargers, how funny was it when Norv Turner started taking shit on Twitter during Monday night’s Chargers collapse? (I even contributed one.) Poor Norv — has there ever been a coach who got fired and, nine months later, was still getting blamed for a devastating loss? I think we made history. I can’t remember hearing about the ghost of an NFL coach before and thinking, Hmmmm … maybe he DID leave a ghost.

Since we’re here, I thought these two e-mails summed up where Eagles fans and Chargers fans are right now.

From Eric E. in San Diego: “Monday night’s game was the epitome of Chargers football. We get all the breaks early. We look like a complete all around team. Then everything turns for the worst with Rivers looking like … well, Rivers. I write to you to start pushing Rivers trades. Not only because he’s lost us countless games, but because his jersey is literally the only jersey for sale in major San Diego stores. I wanted to get my nephew a jersey and all I could find is that horrible No. 17. If we get Rivers out there is a good chance we would be one of the only teams to not even sell a QB jersey and instead sell some amazing defensive jerseys. I would kill for a Weddle jersey, and even have a good time with a Manti Te’o jersey.”

From Jack in New York: “1, the first half of the Eagles-Washington game came so close to pornography for me that I needed to take a shower to wash away the sin. 2, if it makes him play like he did last night, Cary Williams should be involved in a violent altercation during every practice. And 3, upon texting a friend last night, ‘Man, we’re really flogging the Redskins,’ before considering the horrifying double meaning. (I’m now all in on a new name for the Washington Football Team.) Only the Chip Kelly Eagles, Grand Theft Auto, and Quentin Tarantino can make me think about pornography, gratuitous violence, and racism in that short a span of time. I really hope that Riley Cooper doesn’t show up to the Chargers game with a ’70s mustache.”

Panthers (-3) over BILLS
Future bet I wish I had made two weeks ago: EJ Manuel, +600 for Offensive Rookie of the Year. (Take it from a Pats fan who rooted against him for four quarters during Week 1 — he might be the real deal.) But for this week? Buffalo’s secondary is too banged up, and there’s an overwhelmingly good chance that the Panthers are 2013’s “Also-Ran That Beats Every Other Also-Ran But Blows Winnable Games Against Every Good Team” team. In other words, it’s Year 3 of the Ron Rivera era.

Speaking of Rivera, here’s your Shaky Watch heading into Week 2: every Baltimore WR not named Torrey Smith; the Jacksonville/Pittsburgh/Cleveland O-lines; the Phil Rivers era; Ben Roethlisberger’s health; Miami’s running game; Green Bay’s secondary; the Maurice Jones-Drew/Mike Wallace/Dwayne Bowe fantasy comeback bandwagons; C.J. Spiller as a $50 fantasy guy; David Wilson as a $30 fantasy guy; David Wilson as a $15 fantasy guy; David Wilson as a $3 fantasy guy; David Wilson.

BEARS (-6.5) over Vikings
PACKERS (-7.5) over Joe Theismann’s Old Team
Ahhhhhhhhhhh … the beauty of an old-school, two-team teaser. Find two good home teams, lower their lines by six points apiece … and if both cover your revised lines, you win. In this case, you only need the Bears to win by one and the Packers to win by two and you win the tease. It’s a thing of beauty. My gift to you. Just take it. I insist.

(And if that’s not enough … Christian Ponder outdoors-on-the-road alert! Christian Ponder outdoors-on-the-road alert! Christian Ponder outdoors-on-the-road alert! Christian Ponder outdoors-on-the-road alert! Christian Ponder outdoors-on-the-road alert!)

Rams (+7) over FALCONS
As much as I want to pick the Steven Jackson Revenge Game, this feels like too many points considering (a) Roddy White is limping around as a decoy with a high ankle sprain, (b) Atlanta’s offensive line looked legitimately shaky against New Orleans last week, (c) St. Louis’s defensive line was actually making stuff happen last Sunday against Arizona and (d) Jared Cook is suddenly Antonio Gates 2.0. Could I have been wrong about the Rams? I may have been wrong about the Rams. The Upset Special: Rams 24, Falcons 20.

Speaking of upsets, have you seen Jon Gruden’s commercial for Hooters yet? Here, take my hand — let’s go to Hoot Camp together. Pay particular attention to Gruden’s facial expressions at the 13-second, 17-second, 21-second and 24-second marks. I may or may not have watched this video 25 times. Thank you, Jon Gruden. Thank you.

CHIEFS (-3) over Cowboys
Andy Reid and Philly = the best divorce in recent sports history. They were that one couple in your life who needed to break up for years and years and years, and everyone knew it. And after it finally happened (and everyone else was relieved), Andy started dating Kansas City and Philly started dating Chip Kelly, and you said to yourself, “This is good, I really hope this works out,” and now it’s working out to the point that Andy’s happy for Philly, and maybe even the Philly fans are happy for Andy. (Thinking.) You’re right, let’s not go that far. But how many sports divorces end with both sides being happy?

(One more Chiefs note, courtesy of a San Jose reader named Bruce: “Simmons, you know you’ve been doing too much basketball when you refer to KC’s wide receiver as ‘Dwyane’ Bowe in your AFC Power Poll [now fixed]. The person in charge of spell-checking names at the hospital needs to make a visit to Grantland. Somewhere, Dwyane Wade’s mother is applauding.”)

Saints (-4) over BUCS
Let’s look at some actual headlines involving the Bucs in the past week. I made up only two of them.

“Schiano: ‘I’m fine with’ Freeman not being voted captain”

“Greg Schiano Throws Josh Freeman Under the Bus In Monday’s Press Conference”

“It’s players-only meeting time in Tampa”

“Schiano and Freeman Heading Towards a Divorce?”

“Schiano calls anyone who drafted Freeman in their fantasy league “a f—ing idiot.”

“Freeman skips Buccaneers team photo, situation reaches ‘critical mass'”

“Bucs’ Schiano: I didn’t rig vote to keep Freeman from captain”

“Not all is right with Josh Freeman”

“Schiano: I never planted cocaine in Freeman’s car, that wasn’t me”

(Here’s the point: I wouldn’t bet on the Bucs right now. By the way, what’s stopping Cleveland from offering a no. 2 pick to see if Freeman just needs a change of scenery? Have they SEEN Brandon Weeden play? That reminds me … )

RAVENS (-7) over Browns
This week’s God Hates Cleveland stat: Since the Browns returned to Cleveland, they’re 1-14 in Week 1 games, with their six coaches over that span losing their first games by an average of 16.1 points. That’s amazing. According to Louisiana reader Chase Patterson, NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson came off live footage of Weeden failing to deliver a game-saving first down against Miami by saying grimly, “And the Factory of Sadness starts shedding tears again.” The Factory of Sadness? I’m laying the points even though I can’t name a Baltimore receiver other than Torrey Smith. Doesn’t this feel like a “Look, We Are NOT Done, Everybody Needs To Settle Down” game from the Ravens?

Last Browns note: Cleveland fan Daryl Morey posted a video on Facebook recently with the caption, “Metaphor for being a Cleveland sports fan? Different trucks repeatedly crashing into a bridge.” Naturally, I had to watch it. And it’s amazing. This might be the best four minutes on YouTube. If you don’t enjoy this video, I’m giving you a full refund for every NFL column this season.

Titans (+9.5) over TEXANS
The Titans are sneaky-good. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here’s our Sneaky-Good Watch for Week 2: Cleveland’s run D, Detroit’s front four, St. Louis’s front four, Tennessee’s O-line, NYG’s 3-WR offense, Miami’s defense, Carolina’s front 7, EJ Manuel, Atlanta’s rookie cornerbacks, every play in which Terrelle Pryor decides to take off and, last but not least, Saints receiver Kenny Stills. If Kenny Stills is still available in your fantasy league, by all means grab him.

In fact, stop reading this column, go to your fantasy website and pick him up right now, then come back. I’m going to kill time until you return by pointing out the following: Since Drew Brees joined the Saints in 2006, they’ve pulled off Marques Colston (seventh round), Lance Moore (undrafted), Robert Meachem (first round), Jimmy Graham (third round) and Kenny Stills (fifth round) for him. And that’s just in a span of seven years. Hold on, Tom Brady isn’t done punching a wall yet.

Dolphins (+3) over COLTS
I like the matchup of Miami’s underrated defense against Indy’s shaky offensive line and even shakier running game (now that Vick Ballard is gone for the year). Although, as @Mikeydg33 pointed out on Twitter this week, “The 2012-2013 Colts are eerily reminiscent of the Dillon Panthers, circa 2005.”

In other words, they keep generating nail-biter endings that are becoming more and more ludicrous by the week — like last week’s doozy, when Terrelle Pryor (!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?) nearly pulled off an improbable Raiders comeback before throwing a last-minute pick. Have the Pagano-Luck Colts won a game on a Hail Mary yet? What about a double flea-flicker? More importantly, why hasn’t a YouTuber compiled every ridiculous game-winning play from Friday Night Lights into one gigantic clip yet? How does this not exist? WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT THERE, PEOPLE WHO DO WEIRD SHIT LIKE THIS???? WAKE UP!!!!!! GET IT TOGETHER!!!

Lions (-2.5) over CARDINALS
Zac from Detroit writes, “In your AFC Power Poll, a reader emailed you about the best and worst NFL coaches who could give Pacino’s ‘Inches’ speech from Any Given Sunday. I loved the concept, but here’s a SCARY tangent: Try using only Lions coaches from the past 25 years for that speech. Wayne Fontes, Bobby Ross, Gary Moeller, Marty Morninwheg [sic], Steve Mariucci, Dick Jauron (interim), Rod Marinelli, and Jim Schwartz. I mean … On a side note, being a Lions fan really sucks.”

But not this year! The biggest revelation from Week 1: Throw away Adrian Peterson’s 78-yard touchdown jaunt and the Lions KILLED Minnesota last week. This fell through the cracks because of the final score (34-24, so it seemed closer than it was) and Ndamukong Suh’s latest cheap shot becoming such an easy Sports Radio/Embrace Debate topic. This guy just doesn’t get it! You cannot do these things in the National Football League! The Lions might be really, really, really good. It’s in play.

Jags (+6) over RAIDERS
Blaine Gabbert played Kansas City last week with a sprained right thumb and, at some point, a laceration on his throwing hand. Needless to say, the results were spectacular:

• Jacksonville finished the game with 12 first downs and 11 punts.

• Even though he played from behind for the entire game, Gabbert threw for 121 yards total.

• Gabbert finished with 3.46 yards per attempt, which was the seventh-lowest YPA in an NFL game with a minimum of 20 attempts since 1960.

• Throw in six sacks and two picks and Gabbert finished with a 1.2 QBR. For the record, QBR is measured from 0 to 100.

• Gabbert spooked Vegas so much that they made a lousy Raiders team six-point favorites over Gabbert in Week 2. Then, Gabbert got ruled out of this week’s game and was replaced by Chad Henne … AND THE LINE NEVER MOVED.

A Louisville reader named John sums it up. “I think we all owe Terrelle Pryor, Geno Smith and EJ Manuel an apology for suggesting their teams would be worse than the Jaguars. I don’t know why we all bet on the unknown suck of first year quarterbacks when we already know how bad Blaine Gabbert sucks and it is historic. I’ve been watching football since 1991 and can’t think of a worse quarterback that has started more than a season worth of games. I don’t know why we expected to find another once in a generation lack of talent only two years after his emergence.”

(So why take the Jags? Because Henne can be half-decent from time to time … and more importantly, should the 2013 Raiders be favored by six points over ANYBODY? Just out of principle, I’m grabbing the points. Come on. Six points? Six????)

GIANTS (+5.5) over Broncos
Vegas jacked the Manning Bowl’s line nearly a field goal too high because it knows everyone’s fired up about the Broncos right now, even though Von Miller is still out and Champ Bailey is still injured and won’t play Sunday. Thanks for the 2.5 free points, Vegas! NOBODY BELIEVES IN YOU, TOM COUGHLIN. By the way, the Giants are fetching 40-to-1 Super Bowl odds right now, which seems high considering their biggest red flag is David Wilson — their young running back who fumbled twice on Sunday night, sending Giants fans and Wilson fantasy owners into an outright panic. And granted, he’s a 50-foot red flag and the impetus for the lost Friday Night Lights plot that never happened. (The plot: Smash gets fumbleitis, loses his confidence and starts popping Adderall so he can concentrate better, which works for a few weeks until he’s arrested for stealing Adderall from a local pharmacy.) But here’s the thing …

What if Wilson snaps out of this?

Remember, that Cruz-Nicks-Randle threesome looked legitimately terrifying against Dallas. All three of those guys can make big plays, which makes me think Eli is headed for 5,000 yards regardless of whether Da’Rel Scott, Brandon Jacobs or Frank Gifford is his starting running back. But if the Giants get ANYTHING from Wilson … I mean …

As for the Broncos, win or lose, it does feel like Manning could be poised for one of those 2007 Brady-type seasons in Denver, especially when it’s a softer league these days, and especially when he ranks no. 2 in 2013’s Eff You Rankings (just behind Boldin and just ahead of Kaepernick). Could 55 touchdowns and 5,500 yards be in play? A Berkeley reader named Preston wonders, “What if Elway found the Evil Manning button? What if Manning wants ALL the records? [Against Baltimore] he was one Decker drop from 8 TD passes. Sixty TD passes in a season, sure. 40+ points a game, sure. 6,000 passing yards, sure.” I like the concept of Evil Manning. We’ll know it’s in play when he grows a Fu Manchu.

(Speaking of Manning, here’s a great point from Palm City reader Jack Burton: “Unless ESPN is pulling a prank with QBR, they’re saying a QB who finished with 7 TDs, no picks, 462 passing yards, 64% completion and 11 yards per pass was our fifth-best QB for Week 1. Anyone who thinks 4 QBs played better than Peyton Manning last week probably shouldn’t be allowed to watch sports.” The lesson, as always: There’s never going to be a slam-dunk way to rate the entirety of a quarterback’s performance, no matter how how hard you try … well, unless you’re talking about the BQBL. We mastered that sucker!)

BENGALS (-7) over Steelers
If you’re trying to even remotely talk yourself into a Steelers resurgence, read this spectacular takedown of Todd Haley’s offense by Pittsburgh Magazine writer Sean Conboy. Oh, and as multiple readers pointed out — you know how Pittsburgh lost All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey last week, and how it’s always an absolute disaster when you lose your center (especially a good one)? You know who made the tackle on the same play that ended Maurkice Pouncey’s season? That’s right, the one and only BERNARD KARMELL POLLARD. His powers are spreading.

FLOYD MAYWEATHER (-250) over Canelo Alvarez
I spent the last two months telling myself, I’m picking Canelo, I’m picking Canelo. Then it creeps within 36 hours of the fight and you start thinking to yourself, Man, am I REALLY going against Floyd? The dude who has never lost? The dude who has been tagged only one time that I can remember (by Shane Mosley)? The dude who doesn’t have the same kind of boxing miles on him that just about every other champ hitting the tail end of his mid-30s usually has? The dude who is probably one of the five or six greatest fighters ever?

The more I think about it, the more this feels like Floyd’s Last Great Moment. I’m taking Floyd by TKO in the 10th. Regardless, Rivera’s last trip to Fenway (possibly), Johnny Football against Alabama, Floyd against Canelo, the Manning Bowl, Niners-Seahawks and the third-to-last Breaking Bad all happening in the span of 48 hours? Now that, my friends, is a good weekend.

This Week: 0-1
Last Week: 7-8-1
Season: 7-9-1

Filed Under: Bill Simmons, NFL, People, Simmons, Sports

Bill Simmons is the founding editor of Grantland and the author of the New York Times no. 1 best seller The Book of Basketball. For every Simmons column and podcast, click here.

Archive @ BillSimmons