It’s time to start appreciating whatever time we have left to watch Peyton Manning.

It was staggering to see him benched last week for Brock Osweiler. Legends aren’t supposed to fall like that — injuries or not. It can be difficult to comprehend.

But it’s been coming to this. Manning’s thrown nine touchdowns against 17 interceptions. There have been moments interspersed this season where he’s looked like the same Manning we’ve grown used to seeing each Sunday. But more often, he’s been a shadow of himself.

This isn’t what the last image is supposed to look like. We all want to see legends go out on their own terms. But sometimes that isn’t how things go. Sometimes you have to watch as Muhammad Ali gets knocked around the ring or Willie Mays fails to field his position.

Sure, sometimes those clips still get played on TV. But those images fade away, and people end up remembering these guys how they’re supposed to be remembered.

Maybe that’s where we are now with Manning. He won’t be out there this week. That other guy will be starting in his place. But we can hope he gets another chance to take the field and provide some more positive memories.

Even if they aren’t extended, appreciate whatever good moments he can still provide. He already dodged retirement once and came back as strong as ever. It’s doubtful that happens again.

The end is closer than the beginning. And even if it isn’t the image you want to see, sometimes you have to let a legend figure it out — even if it isn’t on everyone else’s terms.

Nick Underhill

NICK’S PICKS: Underhill’s top five teams (this week)

1. Patriots (9-0)

The Giants have a way of making life difficult on the Patriots, as we saw last week. But can New England maintain with a growing list of injuries.

2. Panthers (9-0)

We’ve been slow to embrace Cam Newton as an MVP candidate, but if the Panthers keep this up, it’s going to be hard to maintain that stance.

3. BENGALS (8-1)

Every team has to lose a game at some point. It was Cincinnati’s turn last week. Andy Dalton looked bad, but this team should be able to bounce back.

4. Cardinals (7-2)

Arizona should have no issues running off to its first division title since 2009. But this team is going to be searching for so much more than that.

5. VIKINGS (7-2)

Minnesota has a brutal schedule with two games against Green Bay and one each against Arizona and Seattle. But this team is hot, winning its past five.

This Week’s Games

Rams (4-5) at Ravens (2-7)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Ravens by 21/2

BRIEFLY: In last meeting, Ravens QB Joe Flacco connected for three first-quarter TDs, all to Torrey Smith. ... Rams will start Case Keenum at QB. He beat Baltimore with Houston in 2014. ... Rams WR Wes Welker needs 146 yards receiving to reach 10,000 and seven catches to reach 900. ... Rams lead NFC with 29 sacks, including six by Aaron Donald and five by Robert Quinn.

NICK’S PICK: Rams 21, Ravens 17

REDSKINS (4-5) at PANTHERS (9-0)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Panthers by 8

BRIEFLY: Redskins’ Kirk Cousins had perfect QB rating of 158.3 against Saints last week, completing 20 of 25 passes for 324 yards and four TDs. ... Since entering NFL in 2012, RB Alfred Morris is third with 4,366 yards rushing and fourth in TDs rushing with 28. ... TE Jordan Reed has five TDs in past three games. ... Panthers have won 13 straight regular-season games and are 9-0 for first time in franchise history. ...Panthers have scored at least 27 points in seven straight games.

NICK’S PICK: Panthers 28, Redskins 20

COWBOYS (2-7) at DOLPHINS (4-5)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Cowboys by 1

BRIEFLY: With win, Jason Garrett would earn his 44th regular-season victory, tying Jimmy Johnson for second place in Cowboys history behind Tom Landry, who had 250 wins. ... Since Week 2 of 2014, Cowboys are 15-3 when Tony Romo starts and 0-8 when he doesn’t. Romo returns from missing seven games with collarbone injury. ... Dolphins rank next to last in NFL in third-down conversion (29.5 percent) and last in fourth-down conversions (2 for 12).

NICK’S PICK: Cowboys 31, Dolphins 24

Broncos (7-2) at Bears (4-5)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Broncos by 1

BRIEFLY: Bears coach John Fox will be facing his former team for first time after leading Denver to 46-18 regular-season record over previous four seasons, including four AFC West titles and one Super Bowl run. Fox and Broncos parted in January. ... This will also be first meaningful game against Denver for Jay Cutler since he was traded to Chicago in 2009. He played against Broncos in preseason that year. ... Cutler had career-high 151 rating last week and became first Bears QB with two touchdown passes of 80 or more yards in one game.

NICK’S PICK: Bears 17, Broncos 14

Raiders (4-5) at LIONS (2-7)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Lions by 1

BRIEFLY: Lions have won three straight in series, including last matchup at home in 2003. ... Raiders QB Derek Carr has averaged 306 yards passing over last four games with 13 TDs and three INTs. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford was not sacked in last week’s win after being sacked 13 times previous two games.

NICK’S PICK: Raiders 24, Lions 17

NEW YORK JETS (5-4) at TEXANS (4-5)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Jets by 3½

BRIEFLY: Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had surgery on thumb ligament of left hand on Nov. 13, has thrown at least two touchdown passes in seven of last nine games. He started 12 games for Houston last season and is expected to start Sunday. ... ... Houston QB Brian Hoyer has concussion and is out for game. ... QB T.J. Yates played first game since September 2014 when he took over for Hoyer in third quarter Monday and threw for winning touchdown to DeAndre Hopkins. ... RB Alfred Blue (LSU) has averaged 105.5 yards of total offense in last two home starts.

NICK’S PICK: Jets 20, Texans 17

Colts (4-5) at FALCONS (6-3)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Falcons by 5

BRIEFLY: Matt Hasselbeck will make his third start of season in place of injured Colts QB Andrew Luck. 40-year-old Hasselbeck won first two starts, completing more than 63 percent of passes for 495 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. ... Falcons WR Julio Jones leads the league with 80 catches for 1,029 yards and six TDs and has shot at eclipsing Marvin Harrison’s single-season receptions record (143).

NICK’S PICK: Colts 24, Falcons 20

BUCCANEERS (4-5) at EAGLES (4-5)

WHEN: Noon Sunday

Line: Eagles by 6

BRIEFLY: Eagles have won past three meetings. ... Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston has rushing TD in three straight games. ... RB Doug Martin has 195 yards rushing and one TD vs. Eagles in last two games. ... Eagles QB Mark Sanchez, who will start for the injured Sam Bradford, needs 334 yards passing to reach 15,000. ... RB DeMarco Murray has 596 rushing/receiving yards in last five games.

NICK’S PICK: Eagles 27, Bucs 21

CHIEFS (4-5) at CHARGERS (2-7)

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday

Line: Chiefs by 3

BRIEFLY: Alex Smith needs six more passes and he breaks Chiefs franchise record for consecutive throws without INT held by Steve DeBerg. ... Chiefs RB Charcandrick West has stepped up after Jamaal Charles (knee) was lost for season, rushing for 309 yards, three TDs in last four games. ... Chargers rookie RB Melvin Gordon still looking for first NFL TD, 100-yard game.

NICK’S PICK: Chargers 24, Chiefs 20

Packers (6-3) at Vikings (7-2)

WHEN: 3:25 p.m. Sunday

Line: Vikings by 1

BRIEFLY: Packers are 9-1-1 in last 11 games against Vikings. ... Vikings RB Adrian Peterson leads all NFL rushers with 961 yards, 227-yard lead over Arizona’s Chris Johnson. ... With six career 200-yard games, Peterson is tied with O.J. Simpson for most in NFL history. ... Vikings are one of nine NFL teams that have already matched or passed 2014 victory total (7-9). They’re at best nine-game record since 2009 (8-1).

NICK’S PICK: Vikings 27, Packers 20

49ers (3-6) at SEAHAWKS (4-5)

WHEN: 3:25 p.m. Sunday

Line: Seahawks by 13

BRIEFLY: Seahawks have won four straight over 49ers, including 20-3 win one month ago when Seahawks sacked QB Colin Kaepernick six times and held 49ers to 142 total yards. ... QB Blaine Gabbert to make second start with 49ers after leading them to win over Atlanta two weeks ago.

NICK’S PICK: Seahawks 20, 49ers 14


WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Line: Cardinals by 41/2

BRIEFLY: Cardinals haven’t beaten Bengals since 2007. ... Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was drafted No. 1 overall by Bengals out of USC in 2003. ... QB Andy Dalton has started every game for Bengals since Palmer left. ... Larry Fitzgerald needs 13 yards receiving to reach 13,000 for career.

NICK’S PICK: Cardinals 24, Bengals 23

BILLS (5-4) at PATRIOTS (9-0)

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Line: Patriots by 7

BRIEFLY: Patriots have won 27 of last 31 meetings dating to 2000. ... QB Tom Brady has 24 regular-season wins against Bills, more than any other opponent in career ... ... Bills DT Kyle Williams (LSU) is expected to miss his fourth game with left knee injury.

NICK’S PICK: Patriots 28, Bills 20

FOR THE RECORD (straight up)

Nick’s picks last week: 5-7

For the season: 82-49