Every Sunday night, Around The League takes a closer look at four of the day's most interesting subplots. We call it The Filthy Four ... mostly for alliteration purposes.
Can't spell 'elite' without Eli
At 30, Manning is having his finest statistical season, and his ability to make plays (and cut down on mistakes) is a huge reason behind the Giants' 6-2 record and perch atop the NFC East. That said, we still won't be convinced Eli belongs at the big boy table reserved for the likes of Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and Eli's big brother.
And that's fine. Consider Eli the Foo Fighters of NFL quarterbacks -- steady, durable and capable of special moments. What else do you really need?
A-Rod is a god
We figure a shaky pass defense will get the Packers picked off one of these weeks, but then again, who in their right mind is going to count out Aaron Rodgers at this point?
In a year that has been defined by excess on offense, Rodgers is on pace for the greatest season in the history of the quarterback position. If you extrapolate his numbers over 16 games -- Green Bay is halfway home at 8-0 -- Rodgers is on pace to throw for 5,238 yards, 48 touchdowns and just six interceptions. His quarterback rating is 125.7, and his completion percentage of 71.5 is enough to make Steve Young green with envy.
Rodgers has turned the NFL into his own personal "Madden" game with the difficulty level set on easy.
Flacco is no fluke-o
This one is all about Joe Flacco, who overcame some killer drops by his receivers -- really, there was a serious case of the Houshmandzadehs going around -- to lead the Ravens on a game-winning 92-yard drive in the final minutes that clinched a season sweep of the Steelers. It's a signature win for the 26-year-old, who badly needed a game like this in a season in which he's struggled mightily at times.
Can we blame this on LeBron?
We had planned to ignore the underwhelming slate of early games but ultimately decided we should touch on the plight of the Cleveland Browns' fan community.
We received the following dispatch via text from an NFL.com colleague who had set up shop Sunday at Central, a Browns bar located in Santa Monica.
"Mood? People are ordering rat poison from the bar with a chaser of Ebola virus juice. In deep hell."
We'd say the bizarre circus that's enveloped Peyton Hillis is a distraction, but that's probably just a convenient excuse for a team and franchise that appears rudderless. Even worse, Cleveland's three victories effectively took them out of the "Suck For Luck" competition. Even when the Browns win, they lose. Pass the rat poison.