First his longtime pal Kenny Chesney was named country music's MVP (technically Entertainer of the Year); then the Colts' QB took steps toward winning the NFL's version of the award for a second straight year. His third five-touchdown day of the season propelled Colts over Texans and gave Manning a season total of 31, on pace to shatter Dan Marino's record of 48.
This is the city that's hosting Super Bowl XXXIX on Feb. 6--and the homeboys just might be getting some wild ideas. Even with Last-Minute Leftwich sidelined, Jags (6--3) snagged overtime win over Lions behind backup quarterback David Garrard to hold on to share of first place in AFC South. Soft schedule ahead and four of last seven games at home.
Carson Palmer--Chad Johnson
Bengals' QB-WR tandem drove from Cincy to Indy to watch Peyton and WR Marvin Harrison knock off Vikings two Mondays ago. "They're who we want to be like," said Palmer. "It was a business trip." Palmer drove ("[Chad] was my date"), they sat in the stands and they took notes: On Sunday pair hooked up six times for 89 yards in win over Redskins.
Freed from NFL disaster area and due to collect millions more from Dolphins, Wannstedt was bathed in praise and sympathy (CB Sam Madison wept) on his way out as Miami coach. Six days later he showed up, perfect hair and all, as a CBS analyst.
Four days after a date with him was raffled off at a Washington Wizards game, Demps made five tackles in Baltimore's overtime win over Jets. For even more Demps hotness check out page 43.
Coach Tom Coughlin has been wondering, Where has the momentum gone? In loss to Arizona, Giants, once 4-1, squandered another lead and fell for third time in four games. Kurt Warner (right) was sacked six times. Eli Manning is to start this Sunday, so how long till Mrs. Warner starts calling N.Y. radio shows? And can Jints regain momentum with Falcons (7-2) and Eagles (8-1) up next?
Rough Sunday for footballers. Chiefs (3--6) blew lead in 27-20 loss to Saints, with two fumbles and two interceptions. Coach Dick Vermeil to K.C. Star: "We win ... if we don't turn the ball over." MLS's Wizards blew lead in 3-2 loss to D.C. United in title game, scoring own goal and coughing up ball on defense. Coach Bob Gansler to K.C. Star: "It was our turnovers."
Northern California Pros
The 49ers' home loss to previously punchless Panthers dropped the Bay Area NFL teams to a combined 4-14, putting them right at home with NBA's Warriors (1-6 through Sunday). All of this in the month after baseball's Giants and A's both missed the postseason for the first time since 1999.
In interview on 1050 ESPN Radio, Dolphins play-by-play man said of Dave Wannstedt's resignation, "I watched the guy get decapitated today" and likened event to the beheading of hostages. Mr. David, shut up.
Isn't this the ingredient that's supposed to win football games? Four of top seven D's in NFL--Buffalo's, Washington's, Tampa Bay's and Miami's--have losing records.
BRIAN SPURLOCK/U.S. PRESSWIRE (MANNING)
BRIAN TIETZ/WIREIMAGE.COM (PALMER)
TOM DIPACE PHOTOGRAPHY (JOHNSON)
BRIAN KILLIAN/WIREIMAGE.COM (DEMPS)
JEFF ZELEVANSKY/ICON SMI (WARNER)
STEPHEN DUNN/GETTY IMAGES (MLS WIZARD)
MICHAEL HICKEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (DEFENSE)