While the last week of October may belong to the World Series, the first week of November has its own pretty good thing going. The NFL schedule makers don’t get everything right (just ask the Saints, who were forced to play a Thursday night road game after a Sunday nighter), but Peyton Manning versus Tom Brady has become an annual post-Halloween treat. We can thank both of those slingers for showing us what it looks like to play the position at its highest level, and it remains our good fortune that each is still rolling along deep into their 30’s. It’s certainly befitting that these two great heavyweights have already given us 15 spectacular rounds. They crank it up for the 16th time on Sunday, as the Broncos travel to New England.

 

Not surprisingly, the stakes remain just as significant, with home field advantage in the AFC playoffs likely to be determined. It will be cold, raw, and windy in Foxboro on Sunday, which tends to be a very unforgiving combination for Manning. New Englanders, on the other hand, like to be miserable, so this plays right into their hands. This correspondent says this with pride, having grown up a few miles from Gillette Stadium (which New Englanders still refer to as the “new” stadium, as it replaced the laughably flawed Schaefer/Sulllivan/Foxboro Stadium in 2002).

 

New Englanders spend half their lives devising ways to displace or remove unwanted seasonal hazards — fallen leaves, snow, New Yorkers on summer vacation. Moreover, they don’t take kindly to the idea that someone “not from here” can do it better than one of their own. There may never be an answer to the Brady versus Manning debate, but each year we have more materials to buttress either side of the argument. Manning will own every passing record for a long time, but his head-to-head record versus Brady is 5-10, with Tom also leading 3-1 in the all-important Super Bowl victory column. Luckily, there’s a lot of football left to be played — unless you’ve had your team’s dreams dashed repeatedly by one of these quarterbacks (the 2006 AFC Championship game still stings), you can just sit back and enjoy it. Not a bad way to start November.

 

Here are some other not-quite-main-event-but-not-too-shabby story lines from Week Nine. Let us also state, for the record, that San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner can play for our team any day — regardless of the sport or position. Pure brilliance. Enough said. Just needed to get that off our chest. On to Week Nine.

 

Romo or Ro-NO:
We still can’t take our eyes off of the Cowboys this season. Every snap feels like high drama. Tony Romo’s status is up in the air for Sunday, and Dallas tries to avoid a two-game skid that would send all of North Texas into panic. What else is new?

 

U-G-L-Y:
Nowhere do football at its worst and football at its best intersect more than when the Ravens play the Steelers. It will be ugly and physical and ugly some more. This feels like the Ravens’ division to lose, and if they drop back-to-back to the Bengals and Steelers, they just might do so.

 

RG3 Part Deux:
We re-launch the Robert Griffin hype machine this week, as he returns to action vs. the lowly Vikings. Everyone is hoping that he regains and maintains full health, but be prepared for hyperbolic overreaction after his Sunday performance.

 

Remember Us?:
The Giants have their next (and perhaps last) shot at relevance, hosting the Colts on Monday. We think we know everything we need to about each of these teams, but we’re always prepared for an Eli surprise.

 

Are you keeping up with the Manning vs. Brady rivalry this NFL season? Catch up with us here, or find me on Twitter @endbadly.