Week 14 NFL Preview
Indianapolis Colts (6-6) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-7)
The Indianapolis Colts are trying to turn it around after losing back to back games, while Tampa Bay is trying to build on their two game win streak. Jacoby Brissett hasn’t been the same after coming back from his knee injury which forced him to sit out two games. The Colts are still in the playoff race, which should be good motivation for them going forward.
Tampa Bay on the other hand is out of the race completely. If the playoffs started today, the two wild card teams in the NFC would be the 49ers, and Vikings, who are 10-2, and 8-4 respectively. The 49ers, Vikings, Bears, and Rams are all ahead of the Buccaneers for that spot, along with the Eagles and Panthers who they’re currently tied with.
The Buccaneers have their eyes on the future, while the Colts have their eyes on the now. The Colts are on the outside looking in, so this is a must win for them. If the Colts lose this game, they’re most likely out of the playoff race. Expect the Colts to bring their ‘A’ game Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens (10-2) vs Buffalo Bills (9-3)
How do you stop Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens? The Ravens have been on a roll these last eight weeks, with wins over playoff teams like the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, and 49ers. The Ravens dominated in three out of those four games, and have looked unstoppable. They have a ton of offensive weapons, which makes it hard to stop. Even if you can neutralize one of them, they have more than enough talent to pick up the slack.
Last week, Marquise Brown had 1 reception for 1 yard. That’s it. They took him out of game, and forced someone else to step up for Baltimore. Mark Andrews
had 3 receptions for 50 yards, and a touchdown. Mark Ingram ran for 59 yards on 15 carries. Lamar Jackson had 105 yards through the air, 101 yards on the ground, and two touchdowns. You can’t stop Baltimore’s offense right now. They have too many weapons, and they’re too versatile on that side of the ball.
Buffalo is a great team defensively, but Baltimore has faced plenty of good defenses. New England, San Fransisco, Seattle, Pittsburg. None of them could do it. Buffalo will needs to come out firing, and get hot early. They won’t win a chess match against Baltimore, so they need to play their own game, and even then, with how versatile Baltimore is, it still may not be enough.
This is Baltimore’s game to lose. They’ve shown no signs of slowing down, so look for them to get the easy win over Buffalo.
Detroit Lions (3-8-1) vs Minnesota Vikings (8-4)
In the NFC, your spot is never guaranteed. If the playoffs started today, the Vikings would be in, but a lot can change in these last four weeks. If the Vikings win, and the Rams lose, it’d give them a two win cushion over both Chicago and Los Angeles. They also play Green Bay again this season, which means them winning the NFC North isn’t out of the question.
Detroit has lost five straight games, and they don’t have much to play for at this point. Minnesota can give themselves a comfortable cushion on that final payoff spot with a win this weekend, and it’s unlikely they’ll even give Detroit a chance. As long as Minnesota plays their brand of football, they should get the easy win over their division rivals.
Washington Redskins (3-9) vs Green Bay Packers (9-3)
Green Bay needs is in a neck and neck battle with Minnesota for the NFC North crown, and a loss here (assuming Minnesota beats Detroit), would put them both at 9-4. Green Bay still has the tie breaker because of their head to head win, but they play again in week 16, and a loss here would kill Green Bay’s confidence.
Washington is on a two game winning streak, with wins over Detroit and Carolina. Dwayne Haskins hasn’t had a great rookie season, so it’s unlikely he’ll turn that around against a defense like Green Bay, but you can never count out a rookie. He’s gonna make the most of every opportunity, and if Green Bay underestimates him, they could make him pay. As long as Green Bay treats this game like every other, they should get the easy win here.
Denver Broncos (4-8) vs Houston Texans (8-4)
The Texans have one thing on their mind going forward, and it is the Tennessee Titans. They have a one game advantage over them, and they play them two time before the regular season is over. This shouldn’t be a hard game for Houston, considering how great they’ve played this season (aside from that massacre in Baltimore.) They have a lot to lose in this game, so expect them to give Denver everything they have.
Drew Lock made his NFL debut last week, which is something Houston will have to worry about. They don’t have a ton of film on him, which means their defensive game plan will be very assumptive, which is never what you want going into a game. They’re a talented defense, so they shouldn’t worry too much, but you’d still have to give Drew Lock the benefit of the doubt.
With how much a loss here would affect them going forward , they’ll likely leave nothing to chance. Deshaun Watson is going to play like Deshaun Watson, and that Texans defense is never something that you want to bet against. Houston should get the easy win here, but you never know. That’s why you play the game.
San Fransisco 49ers (10-2) vs New Orleans Saints (10-2)
This is the must watch game of the week, two of the best teams in the NFL going at it. This game could be the deciding factor for home field advantage in the playoffs. Right now, San Fransisco doesn’t have home field advantage due to the fact that they’re in arguably the most competitive division in the NFL. New Orleans will most likely be able to maintain their home field advantage, considering that only one of Seattle and San Fransisco can win that division. San Fransisco has more to fight for, which could be the deciding factor in a game between two of the NFL’s best.
If New Orleans wins, they’ll have to feel like they’re the best team in the NFL. They’ll be on a four game win streak, with a fairly easy schedule going forward. If New Orleans can survive this one, they’ll be able take a deep breath, and finish the season knowing that (in their mind) they’re the best team in the NFL. They’d almost definitely be able to maintain their home field advantage, considering how easy their upcoming schedule is.
If San Fransisco wins, they’ll be able to fully put that Baltimore loss behind them, and regain that confidence they played with all season long. They have two very winnable games against the Falcons and Rams coming up, followed by a game against Seattle, which is a must win for them. If they want home field advantage in the playoffs, they’re gonna have to win out, which is no easy task in the NFL. They have to play the two best teams in the NFC before the season is over, and they’re likely going to have to win both to gain home field advantage.
These two teams are going to give it their 110% effort on Sunday, so the deciding factor could be more than just the matchup, it could be the stakes. San Fransisco has more to lose here, which’ll give them some extra motivation that New Orleans doesn’t have. Obviously, it’s never that simple, but with a game so close, you have to look at more than just the game itself.
Cleveland Browns (5-7) vs Cincinnati Bengals (1-11)
Cleveland should get the easy win here, but can you think of a more Cleveland thing than losing to the worst team in the NFL? Other than that surprising victory over Baltimore, Cleveland hasn’t shown too many good signs this season. Baker Mayfield and Odell Beckham haven’t been on the same page, their defense hasn’t been the powerhouse that fans expected, and Freddie Kitchens has shown inconsistency week to week. The only constant has been the outstanding play of Nick Chubb, which is something people aren’t really taking note of. Cincinnati hasn’t played great this season, and it’s unlikely that they get the win, but how poetic would it be for Cleveland to get knocked out of playoff race by the worst team in the NFL.
Carolina Panthers (5-7) vs Atlanta Falcons (3-9)
Atlanta has been the most hit or miss team this season. You never really know what you’re gonna get out of them. Carolina on the other hand, they’ve been pretty consistent, and not in a good way. Their offense would be stagnant if not for Christian McCaffrey’s dominant season. Kyle Allen started off strong, but hasn’t fallen back to Earth since then. Their defense isn’t what is was expected to be, with them giving up 26.6 points per game, which is the seventh worst in the NFL.
The Panthers are on a four game losing streak, and that likely won’t come to an end without Ron Rivera on the sideline to call the shots. The Panthers technically aren’t out of the playoff race, but you’d have to imagine that their eyes are on the future rather than the now. With how unpredictable Atlanta is, this is a hard game to predict, but you’d have to expect them to come out to play since this is a divisional rival. Without their head coach, look for Atlanta to get the win over Carolina, even though it’ll likely be a close one.
Miami Dolphins (3-9) vs New York Jets (4-8)
On paper, this game looks like one of the worst of the season so far, but this could quietly be an exciting game. Both Miami and New York are 3-2 in their last five games, and with how young both of these teams are, it could be a fun one. New York has been pretty inconsistent, and Miami has found some stability in their recent play. Don’t count Miami out in this one. They could surprise you.
*Le’Veon Bell being out has a lot to do with this choice
Los Angeles Chargers (4-8) vs Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8)
This will likely be the last season that Phillip Rivers plays as a starter in the NFL. The Chargers were supposed to be contenders this season, but that hasn’t been the case. Melvin Gordon hasn’t been the same player this season, Father Time is catching up to Phillip Rivers, and Keenan Allen has had a down year. Their one redeeming quality has been their top ten defense, but they can’t make up for how inconsistent their offense has been.
The Jaguars on the other hand are all offense and no defense. Their defense is number eleven in points allowed at 24.3 points per game. The Chargers were supposed to be an offensive team, and the Jaguars a defensive team, but that’s completely wrong.
Gardner Minshew has given Jaguars fans something to enjoy this season, even if the rest of their team has been disappointing. He’s getting the start this week, which makes that Nick Foles contract look like even more of a waste. Jacksonville is on a four game losing streak which Gardner hopes to snap. With how poor Phillip Rivers’ performance has been as of late, expect Jacksonville to capitalize.
Kansas City Chiefs (8-4) vs New England Patriots (10-2)
Will Kansas City get back their pre Patrick Mahomes injury momentum, or will New England turn around their recent struggles? That’s what this game is about. The Chiefs haven’t been playing poorly per se, but they were slated as early AFC favorites, and 8-4 isn’t really where they wanted to be as of right now.
New England has had some clear struggles in their last few games. Their defense was supposed to be their backbone, but against good competition that backbone has been exposed as a bit of a weakness. Their offense has been struggling all year, with the exception of Julian Edelman. When Brady’s not throwing to him, it’s likely not going to get caught. Obviously, these struggles mean nothing. Absolutely nothing. Year after year the media says “This is the year New England’s dynasty comes to an end,” and year after year, they prove the media wrong. You can never count out the Patriots in the playoffs, and it’s ridiculous that people are trying to. With home field advantage in the balance, it’s unlikely that New England lets this game go. Expect New England’s defense to buckle down, and for their offense to step up. New England isn’t going to lose this game at home. Not a chance.
Tennessee Titans (7-5) vs Oakland Raiders (6-6)
Oakland is on their last legs right now. They’re fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive, and it’s incredibly unforntuate that they have to play one of the hottest teams in the NFL to achieve that. Tennessee is 5-1 in games where Ryan Tannehill starts. They’re incredibly hot right now, with a very good all around team.They have a solid quarterback, an outstanding running back, and a top ten defense.
Oakland on the other team isn’t the most talented, but what they do have is culture. They’re going to play with intensity and heart every single game. That is of course, until they fall behind. Their average margin of victory this season is only 5.6 points, and their point differential is an abysmal -87.
When they win, they barely scrape by, but when they lose, they lose big. If Tennessee can strike early, Oakland will give up, and Tennessee could have an easy win on their hands. Look for Derrick Henry to dominate Oaklands poor defense in an ugly game for the Silver and Black.
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) vs Arizona Cardinals (3-8-1)
Pittsburgh finally made the right choice and benched Mason Rudolph. He wasn’t cutting it. He’s not a terrible quarterback, but he was too prone to making mistakes, and just wasn’t up to par. They’re starting Delvin “Ducky” Hodges, who isn’t going to come in an be a superstar for them, but they’re hoping he can be a solid, consistent quarterback who can give them that last season playoff push.
Arizona is on a five game losing streak, and while Pittsburgh seems like the obvious winner here, don’t count out Kyler Murray. Pittsburgh’s defense is elite, so Murray will have his work cut out for him, but don’t be surprised if he puts up some points on Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh will likely get the win, just don’t expect this one to be a blowout.
Seattle Seahawks (10-2) vs Los Angeles Rams (7-5)
Seattle is finally leading the NFC West after San Fransisco’s loss to Baltimore last week. They just got their home field advantage, and it’s unlikely they give it up so soon. Russell Wilson has been having an MVP season, but hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves because of Lamar Jackson’s success. Their defense has been coming into their own, even though that was supposed to be their weakness. They could be super bowl bound if they can keep up this level of play.
Los Angeles on the other hand looks like a completely different football team than the one that went to the super bowl last season. Jared Goff already has the same number of interceptions as last season, just with 19 less touchdowns. Todd Gurley’s stats are basically half of what they were last season, but without half the carries. They rank number twelve in points allowed, which is solid, just not enough to make up for their offensive struggles.
Seattle is having a tremendous season, and it’s unlikely that Los Angeles will be the team to stop their momentum. Russell Wilson is going to have a field day tomorrow on prime time television. Look for a repeat of that Baltimore vs Los Angeles game.
New York Giants (2-10) vs Philadelphia Eagles (5-7)
Eli Manning is back on Monday Night Football. Daniel Jones suffered a high ankle sprain, and to air on the side of caution, they decided to start Eli Manning at quarterback. Philadelphia has been so hit or miss, which is why this matchup is so intriguing. Eli could throw for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns, or throw for 100 and have 3 picks. Who knows?
Saquon Barkley has struggled this season, and with how good the Eagles run defense has been, don’t expect that to change. He was injured, and came back way sooner than expected, but its still a down year for him. He’s only gotten in to the end zone 3 times this season, as opposed to the 15 times last season. He’s only averaged roughly 60 yards per game, which is significantly less than the 81.6 yards per game he had last season. Without much success running the football, the ball is going to be in Eli’s hands a lot. The Eagles are fairly middle of the pack when it comes to passing yards allowed, which doesn’t really give too much indication of how this game will go.
Philadelphia is a much more well rounded team, and even with how inconsistent they’ve been, New York just hasn’t shown enough this season to be taken seriously in this matchup. It’ll be a close game between division rivals, so even though there’s not a ton of stakes, it’ll still be a good one.
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