Week 14 starts off with a Thursday night AFC West clash between the Chiefs and Raiders. Both teams will likely make the postseason, but if Kansas City has any aspirations of winning the division they need to come up with a win at home. Eric Berry's defensive PAT conversion gave the Chiefs a win over Atlanta last week. Is there still some magic left? Kansas City 24, Oakland 23.
The Steelers can't afford to lose any ground to Baltimore in the AFC North. Pittsburgh proved it can play with anyone last week in a 24-14 win over the Giants, now 8-4. The Bills gave the Raiders all they could handle before giving up 15 fourth-quarter points. At 6-6, Buffalo's playoff hopes are fading. The Steelers have won the last five meetings with the Bills, including three at Ralph Wilson Stadium... Pittsburgh 27, Buffalo 14.
The Titans got an extra week off to prepare for Denver (8-4). With the logjam at the top of the AFC South, the Titans need to win to keep pace with Houston and Indianapolis. If Denver QB Trevon Siemian misses another week, the Broncos might not be as fortunate as last week. Still, the Broncos defense is good enough to beat anyone... Denver 17, Tennessee 13.
Both the Redskins and the Eagles lost last week and the loser of this week's game is most likely eliminated from playoff contention. The Eagles defense will have to contend with the NFL's second-leading passer in Washington's Kirk Cousins. Philadelphia's offense sputtered against Cincinnati last week. The Eagles are 4-1 at home this season... Philadelphia 24, Washington 20.
At times, this NFL season just hasn't made much sense for Arizona. Last week, Cardinals QB Carson Palmer was sharp and RB David Johnson proved he is one of the league's best with a rushing and receiving touchdown in a win over Washington. The Dolphins started the season 1-4 and lost for the first time in seven weeks in a loss to Baltimore. One thing Miami does well - win at home... Miami 35, Arizona 31.
The Panthers (4-8) can now officially write off the 2016 season. Ditto for the Chargers. San Diego led Tampa Bay last week heading to the fourth quarter and promptly gave up 10 points to lose 28-21. The Chargers will finish in last place in the AFC West and they will not win on the road in Carolina… Carolina 29, San Diego 27.
An AFC North battle, well, sort of a battle. The 4-7-1 Bengals will not have the opportunity to get beat in the first round of the postseason this year…because they aren’t going to make it to the playoffs. The Browns are 0-12 and headed for a match of Detroit’s awful 2008 season when they became the first team to go 0-16. The Browns are at home, but will it matter? Cincinnati 21, Cleveland 17.
The Bears are coming off just their third win of the season, a 26-6 victory over the hapless 49ers. The Lions, yes the Lions are 8-4 and leading the AFC North for the first time in forever. Chicago probably took itself out of a top two draft pick with its win last week, but don’t worry Bears’ fans. With the Packers, Redskins, and Vikings left after the trip to Detroit, Chicago will probably be picking third in next year’s draft… Detroit 23, Chicago 13.
Houston is letting the AFC South title slowly slip away. Last week, it was a 21-13 loss to a struggling Green Bay. Now, the Texans are forced to win in Indianapolis. The last time Houston went to Indy, they won 16-10. It was their first win ever in Indianapolis. The Texans have only beaten the Colts six times in 29 meetings... Indianapolis 33, Houston 24.
Two teams down on their luck meet in Jacksonville on Sunday. The Jags can't get a break and the Vikings can't find an offense. Minnesota, which lost Dallas by two last Thursday, has won just once in the last seven tries. The Vikes get a 2-10 team that hasn't lost a game by more than 10 points in over a month. Still, the Jags are severely inept and the Vikings can win with just defense... Minnesota 13, Jacksonville 10.
Will the 49ers ever win again this season? San Francisco fell to the lowly Bears last week. Starting quarterback Colin Kaepernick was benched after going 1-for-4 passing and getting sacked six times. No matter who starts at QB, the Niners will have a tough time beating anybody... NY Jets 28, San Francisco 20.
The Bucs have won four in a row for the first time during the Jameis Winston era. Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2007 and now, at 7-5, some are starting to believe. Head coach Dirk Koetter’s team will now face the Saints (5-7) twice in 14 days. The Bucs need to play better at home – they are just 2-4 – and need to get this win. They face Dallas in between games with New Orleans… Tampa Bay 27, New Orleans 25.
The Falcons are now in a race for the NFC South and it will probably take a division title to get to the playoffs. Atlanta fell to Kansas City last week giving up a PAT return that proved to be the difference. Now, they head to L.A. to face a Rams team that has won just once in its last eight tries. Rookie QB Jared Goff is struggling and part of it is just that Los Angeles lacks a good supporting cast around him. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones come back from last week’s loss in a big way… Atlanta 37, Los Angeles 20.
With the Packers’ win over Houston last week, this game becomes much more interesting. Green Bay (6-6) needs to keep pace in the wild card race as they face the Seahawks and then close the season with their three NFC North rivals. Seattle has beaten Green Bay in three of their last four meetings, but the Seahawks haven’t won at Lambeau Field since 1999… Green Bay 23, Seattle 17.
Sunday night, the Giants get a chance to redeem themselves for last week's loss to Pittsburgh and the opportunity to keep hold of the top wild card slot in the playoff race. The Cowboys haven't lost since September. They have the league's best running game and the defense is solid. Dallas has already clinched a playoff berth. This might be the week they drop a second game... NY Giants 27, Dallas 24.
The Ravens welcomed back TE Dennis Pitta last week and he promptly scored his first two TDs of the season in a 38-6 rout of Miami. Pitta’s return comes at a good time. The Ravens travel to New England to face the 10-2 Patriots who will be without their star TE Rob Gronkowski who will miss the rest of the season with a back injury. New England still finds a way to win though, like their 26-10 victory over the Rams last week. Foxborough is a tough place to win… New England 23, Baltimore 20.
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2018 NFL Football Season
Minnesota @ Arizona
This Thursday night matchup features two playoff bound teams and possibly the hottest team in the NFL right now in Arizona. The 10-2 Cardinals have the league’s top scoring offense and the defense is spectacular. Minnesota’s defense is just as good and Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing. This could be one of the best games in the league all season. Home team gets the advantage… Arizona 34, Minnesota 28.
Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
The Bengals won the first meeting of the AFC North rivals. QB Andy Dalton is enjoying his best season as a pro. A.J. Green is one of the league’s best receivers and Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill lead a solid ground game. Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown will make it tough on the Cincinnati defense, but ultimately the Bengals prevail… Cincinnati 20, Pittsburgh 17.
Atlanta @ Carolina
The NFL’s lone remaining unbeaten takes on the Falcons whose season has fallen apart. Atlanta was 6-1 at one point this season and now find themselves in jeopardy of not making the postseason. This game won’t make it any easier. Shutting down Cam Newton just might be impossible… Carolina 31, Atlanta 21.
Oakland @ Denver
The Brock Osweiler show has produced three straight wins for Denver, now 10-2. The Broncos defense is arguably the league’s best and held San Diego to just three points last week. Getting rival Oakland at home helps. Denver won the first meeting 16-10. Call it a season sweep… Denver 21, Oakland 10.
Dallas @ Green Bay
Last Thursday’s Hail Mary win over Detroit may have given the Packers just what they need to finish the season. At 8-4, Green Bay can pull ahead of Minnesota in the NFC North with a win over a Dallas team that has not won a game that QB Tony Romo did not start and finish. Romo is, of course, out for the season. Packers win easily in Lambeau… Green Bay 27, Dallas 13.
New England @ Houston
The Patriots have lost two straight and the Texans have won three of their last four. Can the Patriots snap out of their funk? Can they really lost three in a row? Not likely, but an interception return for a TD and a punt return for another score can’t be tolerated by the Patriots. QB Tom Brady leads New England to a win… New England 34, Houston 28.
Buffalo @ Philadelphia
Both teams had big wins last week that keep the postseason hopes alive. The 5-7 Eagles are actually right in the thick of the NFC East race and if the Bills can ever get more consistent, a wild card berth isn’t completely out of the question. Which teams show up Sunday? LeSean McCoy works over his old team… Buffalo 23, Philadelphia 17.
San Diego @ Kansas City
The Chiefs turnaround continues. Six wins in a row should be seven after this week’s match up with San Diego. The Chargers defense is horrible and head coach Mike McCoy’s team has won just one of its last eight games. Make it nine… Kansas City 30, San Diego 13.
NY Giants @ Miami
Will the Giants lose another game in the final minutes or overtime? Last week, they dropped a 23-20 decision to the Jets in overtime. Miami is young, but won ugly last week against Baltimore. They can do it again at home… Miami 20, NY Giants 17.
New Orleans @ Tampa Bay
The Saints feature the worst defense in the NFL. Tampa Bay is in the midst of a playoff run. The Bucs can make it easier on themselves by winning games they should. This is one of them… Tampa Bay 27, New Orleans 23.
Detroit @ St. Louis
The Lions season went down the tubes with Aaron Rodgers Hail Mary touchdown pass to Richard Rodgers last Thursday. St. Louis isn’t much better and has lost five straight. Look for Detroit to rebound… Detroit 34, St. Louis 27.
Indianapolis @ Jacksonville
Does anyone want to win the AFC South? The Jags have beaten the Colts once this season already. Indy just got shellacked by Pittsburgh. Give the Jags a shot since they’re at home… Jacksonville 13, Indianapolis 10.