Undefeated Mannings face different obstacles

Who has the best job in sports? The majority of responses to that question might be Steve Williams, Tiger Woods’ caddie. But let’s throw another name in the hopper, Archie Manning. If he were a racehorse, he’d sell for a high price.

As it stands, his job is to root on his bloodlines, while appearing in about half of Peyton’s and Eli’s multitude of commercials. It’s good work if you can get it.

The Manning brothers each have won a Super Bowl and quarterback two of the NFL’s five undefeated teams.

Bettors will be watching the Mannings closely today.

Eli Manning should have little trouble keeping the bagel in the loss column when the New York Giants host the laughable Oakland Raiders. Manning is listed as questionable with an injured right heel, but he’s expected to play.

Manning has made 82 consecutive starts. His backup is David Carr. The Giants are 15-point favorites, and the number might drop slightly if Manning is sidelined.

Peyton Manning has his work cut out for him as the Indianapolis Colts travel to Nashville to face the angry, winless Tennessee Titans. The Colts are 4-point favorites.

Marvin Harrison is gone, but the Colts are thriving with Reggie Wayne and tight end Dallas Clark as the go-to weapons of choice for Manning. Enter youngsters Donald Brown, Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie, and Indianapolis has not skipped a beat.

Since the Colts and Titans became AFC South foes in 2002, Manning is 4-3 at Nashville, but he has lost two of his past three games there. He has passed for 300-plus yards in all four games this season.

“There is nothing to knock when it comes to Peyton Manning,” said Tony Sinisi, Las Vegas Sports Consultants odds director. “His preparation is second to none. He does it all.”

As for the floundering Titans, Sinisi looks to the sidelines and the immovable force that moved, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, who signed with Washington.

Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher is a shining light, but he is without two major components — Haynesworth and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, now Detroit’s coach — to the Titans’ success of recent years.

The New England Patriots visit the unbeaten Denver Broncos, with coaching subplots in the equation. Broncos coach Josh McDaniels faces his former team with an opportunity to beat one of the NFL’s top contenders.

How much can McDaniels’ familiarity with Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ system factor into the outcome?

“It can go both ways,” Sinisi said. “McDaniels knows how New England does things, but to me it’s the teacher versus the student. I’m more inclined to think Belichick will throw him a curveball and switch things up.”

The Patriots opened as 31/2-point favorites, and sharp action early in the week dropped the line to 3.

There’s a first-place AFC North showdown in Baltimore, where the Cincinnati Bengals challenge the Ravens, who are 81/2-point favorites.

Baltimore might be the most balanced team in the league through the first month. If receiver Mark Clayton’s fingers hadn’t turned into knuckles late last week at New England, the Ravens could be unbeaten.

But is a letdown a possibility for Baltimore after its showdown with the Patriots? That’s not a concern, according to LVSC oddsmaker Mike Seba.

“The Ravens will not overlook a vastly improved Bengals team,” Seba said. “This is a horrible spot for Cincinnati, as the Ravens are smarting from losing a very winnable game last week.”

The Bengals markedly have improved on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Carson Palmer’s return to health makes their offense viable.

Brian Blessing, project manager for Las Vegas Sports Consultants, can be reached at bblessing@lvsc.com. Hear the LVSC oddsmakers on Sportsbook Radio, weekdays at 3 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM) and Sirius 98.

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