It's where you play the game

ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

So what does it take to make first place in your NFL division of choice these days?

It depends on whether the team resides in the league's low-rent district or the more exclusive real estate.

The Miami Dolphins didn't even play a game this past weekend yet moved into first in the AFC East, a group that includes the defending champion New England Patriots.

In the NFC East, the Washington Redskins (3-0) remained unbeaten but with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants at 3-1 are arguably third best in the division.

Then there is the brutal NFC North where whatever team wants it may get it, and a one-game winning streak by any team could be enough for first place.

A quarter of the way into the schedule, the Dolphins (2-1) certainly classify as one of the surprises and not just for their improved play under Nick Saban and their record, but that they are leading the division.

No one is saying the AFC East is low-rent, but the Patriots have finally lost a game at home, the first time in 21 consecutive Foxboro dates. Now they pack their bags for a pair of challenging road games in Atlanta and Denver while in their most vulnerable state in three seasons.

There's certainly nothing least about the NFC East, meanwhile, where a couple of unlucky finishes have the Dallas Cowboys (2-2) in last place. The Redskins remain undefeated, but the Giants are getting the buzz and the NFC champion Eagles are still the favourites.

So what do oddsmakers make of the division leaders for Week 5?

Despite looking horrible against the Saints, the Bills opened as 2 1/2-point favourites over the visiting Dolphins, who have the added advantage of coming off a bye week.

The Skins are a whopping seven-point 'dog to the Denver Broncos (3-1), who lead the AFC West.

And despite their 2-2 record, the Jacksonville Jaguars are three-point favourites for their Sunday nighter against the NFC North-leading and undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

Mannings, they're good

You are an NFL general manager and you have the pick of the quarterback litter to build your team around. The consensus choice might be Peyton Manning, but the gap between the Colts quarterback and his little brother, Eli, is starting to narrow.

The Manning boys put on quite a show on Sunday with Eli getting the slight nod on four touchdown passes and 296 yards while Peyton had four scores and 264 yards.

It certainly made for entertaining updates when they threw touchdown strikes within seconds of each other on their opening drives.

Nobody expected Peyton's temperate start to continue and the Colts seem to be a team that is revving for a serious roll.

But Eli, who struggled when he was given the starter's job for the latter half of his rookie season with the Giants, gets more impressive by the week. Early score: Eli Manning nine touchdown passes, Peyton six.

Forget the Alamo

As welcome as they made the Saints feel, San Antonio doesn't have a prayer of attracting a full-time NFL team. Like everything else in Texas, football is big. But commissioner Paul Tagliabue is already on record as saying the south Texas city is too small a market.

It didn't help that fewer than 60,000 bought tickets for Sunday's game against the Bills. The Saints expect a sellout for the game against the Falcons on Dec. 12, but 40,000 tickets remain for a Christmas Eve game against the Lions.


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