Remember when I used to writes those posts that compared Alex Smith and Peyton Manning? That was cute, I know. A real valuable use of time. Luckily for you, I’ve moved onto other things…

I’m sure you’ve probably heard about Peyton Manning canceling a planned visit to San Francisco during his free agency tour. Archie Manning told the story on (cringe) Colin Cowherd’s show.

“He had four (visits) immediately lined up. And the first one he decided to visit was Denver. I think that was comfort for him. I think it was comfort with (Broncos coach) John Fox. Everyone loves Foxie – I’m not going to have to visit with some stiff coach the first day. And then I think it was John Elway. And John being a quarterback. And then once he got there, I don’t think he decided that day ‘That’s where I’m going.’ He did go make a visit the next day to Arizona. And then he did cancel his next visits to San Francisco and Seattle. He just said, ‘I’m worn out and they’re going to have to come to me. I’m going to go home.’

“It was funny, he said ‘I’m going to go home, they’re going to have to come to me.’ My response was ‘Where’s home?’ And he went to Duke. That was home for him at the time. But I think it was interesting that that first visit to Denver was comfort. And then in the end, he said it wasn’t clear cut. He said I can’t decide who the best team is. Everybody sounds good. It’s like college recruiting. Everybody sounds good. So I said, just go with your heart. There were some teams that had a little deadline because they had other situations and Denver didn’t. John Elway told Peyton, you take as long as you want. As long as you want. We want you, but you do what you’ve got to do.”

Unwittingly, Papa Manning helped paint his son as a bit of a primadonna douche (I mean, he made them come to DUKE, for goodness sake). Although, to be fair, talking to the Cardinals could wear anybody out. This little anecdote also shows how different life is for a Manning and a guy like Alex Smith (as if you didn’t already know this to be the case).

When he was left without a certain landing spot back in March — as Manning took over the news cycle and San Francisco 49ers’ attention — Smith was stuck taking a red-eye to Miami to talk with the Dolphins. The 49ers face the Dolphins this Sunday, but Smith will be watching from the sideline. According to the Dolphins, he probably might have had a good shot at the starting job in Miami, but Smith wasn’t interested.

On a conference call with the Bay Area media (Wednesday), Miami coach Joe Philbin was asked why a deal wasn’t reached between Smith and the Dolphins.

“I don’t know,” Philbin said. “You’d have to ask him.”

Smith probably left Miami without a contract because he still harbored hopes of a return to San Francisco, not because the Dolphins wouldn’t fly out to California to wine and dine Smith and/or watch him work out (a la Manning, who lured Jim Harbaugh and Greg Roman to Durham, NC but signed with the Broncos anyway). But one has to wonder whether Smith wishes he would’ve taken his talents to South Beach … or if the Dolphins would’ve drafted Ryan Tannehill and started him over Smith anyway.

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Onto the picks, starting with a Thursday Night game involving Manning and a certain 3-9 team in the East Bay…

Denver Broncos (-10) @ Oakland Raiders

Bay Area Sports GuyI feel like playing at home on a short week on national television could help Oakland tonight, but I promised myself I’d pick against the Raiders for the rest of the year. Pick: Broncos

East Bay Sports GuyI don’t need to rehash how poorly the Raiders are playing. Just Google it. Besides the reason for the Raiders’ impending defeat is simple: the Broncos’ strength just so happen to be the Raiders’ weakness. Or, more simply, the Broncos offense is good and the Raiders’ defense is bad. This is only exacerbated by Dennis Allen’s absence from the team this week. Of course, the tragedy that befell Allen could rally his team, but I doubt it. Pick: Broncos

Bay Area Stats GuyMan it sure is ugly in Oakland where they are 10 point underdogs at home and even then the line is big enough to make me even consider taking them. I have them losing by over two touchdowns in this one and with just a 20% chance of winning the game. This one isn’t very pretty. Pick: Broncos

Ruthless Sports Guy: The Raiders are in disarray and getting worse with all this talk about Jon Gruden coming back to coach. Meanwhile, the Broncos have won seven straight games and are really making me wish that the 49ers had done more to snag Peyton Manning. Broncos roll in Oakland tonight. Pick: Broncos

Bay Area Duck Guy: It may be a ten point spread, but I just don’t see Peyton Manning having any difficulty at all against Oakland’s secondary. Plus, Denver’s defense has been impressive this year, and something tells me Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil will be all over the Raider backfield. Pick: Broncos

Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-9)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Eagles
East Bay Sports Guy: Buccaneers
Bay Area Stats Guy: Buccaneers
Ruthless Sports Guy: Eagles
Bay Area Duck Guy: Buccaneers

Dallas Cowboys @ Cincinnati Bengals (-3)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Bengals
East Bay Sports Guy: Bengals
Bay Area Stats Guy: Bengals
Ruthless Sports Guy: Bengals
Bay Area Duck Guy: Bengals

St. Louis Rams @ Buffalo Bills (-3)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Bills
East Bay Sports Guy: Rams
Bay Area Stats Guy: Rams
Ruthless Sports Guy: Rams
Bay Area Duck Guy: Rams

Atlanta Falcons (-3.5) @ Carolina Panthers
Bay Area Sports Guy: Falcons
East Bay Sports Guy: Panthers
Bay Area Stats Guy: Panthers
Ruthless Sports Guy: Falcons
Bay Area Duck Guy: Panthers

Chicago Bears (-2.5) @ Minnesota Vikings
Bay Area Sports Guy: Bears
East Bay Sports Guy: Bears
Bay Area Stats Guy: Bears
Ruthless Sports Guy: Bears
Bay Area Duck Guy: Vikings

Kansas City Chiefs @ Cleveland Browns (-7)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Chiefs
East Bay Sports Guy: Chiefs
Bay Area Stats Guy: Browns
Ruthless Sports Guy: Browns
Bay Area Duck Guy: Browns

Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts (-5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Colts
East Bay Sports Guy: Colts
Bay Area Stats Guy: Titans
Ruthless Sports Guy: Colts
Bay Area Duck Guy: Colts

New York Jets (-2.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Bay Area Sports Guy: Jets
East Bay Sports Guy: Jaguars
Bay Area Stats Guy: Jets
Ruthless Sports Guy: Jaguars
Bay Area Duck Guy: Jaguars

Baltimore Ravens @ Washington Redskins (-2.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Ravens
East Bay Sports Guy: Redskins
Bay Area Stats Guy: Ravens
Ruthless Sports Guy: Redskins
Bay Area Duck Guy: Ravens

Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-10)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Cardinals
East Bay Sports Guy: Seahawks
Bay Area Stats Guy: Cardinals
Ruthless Sports Guy: Cardinals
Bay Area Duck Guy:  Cardinals 

New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants (-4.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Giants
East Bay Sports Guy: Giants
Bay Area Stats Guy: Giants
Ruthless Sports Guy: Saints
Bay Area Duck Guy: Giants

Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (-7)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Lions
East Bay Sports Guy: Packers
Bay Area Stats Guy: Lions
Ruthless Sports Guy: Lions
Bay Area Duck Guy: Packers

San Diego Chargers @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Steelers
East Bay Sports Guy: Chargers
Bay Area Stats Guy: Chargers
Ruthless Sports Guy: Steelers
Bay Area Duck Guy: Steelers

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Miami Dolphins @ San Francisco 49ers (-10)

Bay Area Sports Guy: The 49ers are at their best when facing doubters, and they’ve never faced more during Harbaugh’s tenure (during the regular season, anyway) than after their loss in St. Louis. The Dolphins can stop the run, but this is the week San Francisco has no choice but to show they can throw, if nothing else then to give Bill Belichick a reason not to stack the box a week later. Plus, the Dolphins expended all their energy trying to keep their season alive against New England last week, and now they travel across the country to face an angry team. Pick: 49ers

East Bay Sports Guy: This line is nuts, especially given that the Dolphins have a pretty solid defense. On the road, they allow only 3.5 yards per carry. This combined with the 49ers’ line struggles indicate that the 49ers won’t be handed the game. That said, an already suspect line is made more so with the loss of Jake Long. Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks should be able to disrupt Ryan Tannehill and the Miami Offense easily. Even if the 49ers’ offense can only muster ten points, I still think they cover the spread.  Pick: 49ers

Bay Area Stats GuyI am not sure how the line is so high right now on this game. I like the 49ers to win but this just seems a bit too much. My model says the 49ers should be favored by a touchdown and should win about 60% of the time but this line suggests the Dolphins shouldn’t even bother showing up and I don’t think that should be the case at all. Pick: Dolphins

Ruthless Sports Guy: This line is pretty big, but the 49ers have absolutely destroyed the other AFC East opponents that they face. That is shaping up to be a pretty week division, so San Francisco’s margin of victory vs. AFC East foes could be near 100 by the time they travel to Foxboro, regardless of how underrated the Fins’ defense is. Pick: 49ers

Bay Area Duck Guy: I don’t think Miami will win the game (I mean, how can they, the 49ers have to maintain the win two, lose/tie one pattern) but I don’t see the 49ers dominating. Because the game is in San Francisco, the defense will be great as usual and the offense will improve. Colin Kaepernick may not be spectacular, but he’ll lead the 49ers to about a ten point victory. Pick: Dolphins

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GAME OF THE WEEK:
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots (-3)

Bay Area Sports GuyThe Texans are trying to get through the rest of this season without losing the No. 1 seed or Arian Foster, while the Patriots quietly have the best point differential in the NFL (by far). Expect this game to look a lot like Oct. 7, when the other elite AFC team (Denver) came to Foxboro and lost 31-21. Pick: Patriots

East Bay Sports GuyWhile I think the Texans are good, I don’t believe they are as good as their record indicates. Pro Football Reference believes that Houston’s schedule is the weakest in the AFC. They’ve been helped significantly by aloof referees and overtime heroics. Unfortunately, neither can be counted on, unless of course your Tom Brady. Ultimately, I think the Patriots win this game, despite the wealth of injuries they possess on offense. Pick: Patriots

Bay Area Stats GuyMy model seems to be in love with the Patriots, I have them as 9 point favorites in this game which is pretty crazy because the Texans are a very good football team. I guess I feel pretty good about taking them but I still have a feeling that the Texans could surprise here even though I have them winning just 35% of the time. Pick: Patriots

Ruthless Sports Guy: This looks to be the matchup of the week hands down, although the last time the Texans were involved in a “game of the week” it turned out to be a snoozer in Chicago. I don’t think that’ll be the case here, because the Patriots have enough fire power to put some serious numbers up on this defense. The Texans have had a pretty easy schedule this year, so let’s see how they stand up against a real opponent. Pick: Patriots

Bay Area Duck Guy: The game is in New England, but the Texans are the best team in the NFL right now. Houston’s defense can contain Tom Brady’s passing game, and I just can’t imagine the Texans not scoring points against New England. Arian Foster shouldn’t have too much trouble on the ground, and that will open up the passing for Matt Schaub. Pick: Texans

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Overall Record

Bay Area Sports Guy: 90-97-4 (.481)
East Bay Sports Guy: 94-93-4 (.502)
Bay Area Stats Guy: 88-99-4 (.471)
Ruthless Sports Guy: 93-94-4 (.497)
Bay Area Duck Guy: 87-100-4 (.466)

We’re probably a week away from all of us falling under .500 forever! Hooray!!!