The 4th quarter has begun.
Week 14 marks the start of the 4th quarter in the NFL season. While some teams have already started making vacation plans for January, other teams are either thriving or barely hanging on to their playoff hopes. One thing is for certain, the intensity of the NFL’s playoff races will only grow larger in these last 4 weeks.
Last Week: 12-4
News Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons (Thursday Night Football)
The Saints revival seems unstoppable due to the RB combo of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, and they still have a future hall of fame QB in Drew Brees. The Falcons playoff hopes took a damaging blow last week by losing to the Vikings, and a loss Thursday night would be the final nail in the coffin.
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills
The Bills suffered a major blow last week with the injury to QB Tyrod Taylor. Back-up QB Nathan Peterman may get the chance to start again, but we all remember what happened the last time he started.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
The Vikings are on a roll with a 10 game winning streak, and could be the first team to ever play in the Super Bowl in their home stadium. The Panthers are clinging on to the 6th seed in the NFC, and need a bounce back win if they want to remain on the inside of the playoff picture.
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals are licking their wounds after another prime time game meltdown, while the Bears keep finding more ways to shoot themselves in the foot and lose. It may be time for a house cleaning in Chicago.
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is practice again in the hopes his collar bone will heal in time to play in the Packers’ final three playoff implicating games. If QB Brett Hundley can get past the Browns, the Packers could be primed for a playoff run.
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans
49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo made the inept 49ers offense look functional last Sunday despite red-zone struggles. He’ll need to be sharper against Jadeveon Clowney and the Texans vaunted defense.
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
With a three way tie atop the AFC West, this one could be an elimination game. The Raiders have been fortunate enough to have faced backup QBs the last 2 weeks, and the Chiefs appear to be falling apart. But Andy Reid can solve the Chiefs’ woes in time to win the division, right?
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Buccaneers QB James Winston looked good in his return, but had another careless turnover that cost his team the game last week. You would think he’d be more careful with the ball after considering he’s in his third NFL season. The Lions got smacked by the Ravens last week, and QB Matt Stafford will be playing through pain with a badly injured hand.
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants
NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell signed a 5 year, $200 million contract extension, thus making Jerry Jones look like a dope for threatening to sue him and the league. After cleaning house by firing GM Jerry Reese and head coach Ben McAdoo, the Giants have reinserted Eli Manning as their starting QB. Years from now, we’ll ask what was the point of benching the two time Super Bowl champion, and we won’t have a good answer.
Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals
The Titans have a minus 16 point differential despite being in first place in the AFC South. The Cardinals are a shell of their former 2015 NFC Championship Game selves, but it’s mediocre teams like them the Titans have trouble beating handily.
New York Jets at Denver Broncos
In what was supposed to be a year in which they were tanking, the New York Jets have somehow already matched their win total in 2017 and still mathematically alive in the AFC playoff hunt. The Denver Broncos have three QBs on their roster, meaning they have no QBs. GM and Mr. Bronco himself John Elway called the Broncos season “embarrassing”, might we see first year head coach Vance Joseph gone after just one season?
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers
The Washington Redskins have injuries piling up and are on their way to a below .500 record. The Chargers have now won 6 of their last 8 games after starting 0-4 behind a ferocious pass rush and borderline hall of fame QB Philip Rivers. Go Chargers, Go ! (*Arnold Schwarzenegger voice*)
Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars
If you had told someone at the start of the season a wee 14 game between the Seahawks and the Jaguars would have major playoff implications for both squads, you’d had been labeled insane. A win for the Jaguars would implicate the Jaguars are the real deal, while a win for the Seahawks would be business as usual.
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Ram
A battle between the number 1 and number 2 picks in the 2016 NFL Draft could potentially be a preview of the NFC Championship game. The Eagles are coming off a rough loss to the Seahawks, while the Rams throttled the Cardinals in an impressive road win. The winner of this one is in the driver seat for a playoff bye, and maybe even the number one seed in the NFC.
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football)
AFC North football in December. Nothing is greater than a good ole’ fashioned showdown between two blood rivals who can’t stand each other. The Steelers look to keep rolling and remain the top seed in the AFC, while a win for the Ravens would make them a team no one would want to face should they make it to the postseason.
New Englan Patriots at Miami Dolphins (Monday Night Football)
If there’s one place the Patriots have struggled to play over the last few seasons, it’s in South Beach. The Patriots have lost 3 of their last 4 games in Miami, and stumbling against them could cost them a number 1 seed in the playoffs. Luckily, the Dolphins are quarterbacked by Jay Cutler, meaning their chances of winning in Miami are considerably higher than previous seasons.