Four more chances to make something happen
Each team has four more chances to make something happen this year, as NFL Week 14 marks the final quarter of the league’s regular season.
Playoff races are heating up to a boiling point. On the other end of the spectrum, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft is still up for grabs.
Every game holds some significant meaning this weekend, and we know some weirdness will be on the menu as the unexpected crops up every week around the NFL.
With that in mind, which underdogs have a shot to knock off the favorites in NFL Week 14? Here’s a look at six teams on upset alert.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-7)
So far, there hasn’t been a single team the Chiefs have faced that has been able to slow their offense down. The two games Kansas City lost this year saw the Chiefs score 40 and 51 points, respectively. The lowest point total on the year occurred in Week 4 when the Denver Broncos held Patrick Mahomes and Co. to 27 points.
If any team has the ingredients to disrupt this offensive explosion, however, it’s Baltimore.
Lamar Jackson is set to start his fourth game in a row. He and Gus Edwards have given the offense a makeover, and it’s one that benefits the defense in a huge way. While these two youngsters pound the rock, the veteran defensive stars on Baltimore’s roster are resting up on the sideline and have been fresh to close out games.
The Chiefs aren’t good defensively and will struggle to keep Jackson from moving the chains. If the rookie can stop turning the ball over, the Ravens have a fantastic shot to win this one.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans (-4.5)
Houston is on an incredible roll. It hasn’t lost a game since Week 3. Lamar Miller has become a focal point of the offense. Demaryius Thomas is becoming a red-zone threat, and a nice complement to DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans are also on fire defensively and are coming off their most impressive showing yet with four turnovers last weekend.
Needless to say, Indy has its work cut out Sunday.
Assuming Frank Reich figures out what went wrong last weekend against Jacksonville, however, the Colts have plenty of offense to counter what the Texans have to offer. Andrew Luck has been phenomenal all year, last game notwithstanding, and is slinging the ball around with a high degree of skill and confidence.
If the Colts can keep Miller from running wild, this’ll be a close game and anyone’s for the taking.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers (-4)
It’s going to be interesting to see whether firing Mike McCarthy helps the Packers get on the same page or if that decision will only further unravel things in Green Bay. We already know that’s just the first step of many that are necessary to get the Packers back on the championship track.
We also know that the Falcons have plenty of offense to keep up on the scoreboard this Sunday at Lambeau Field.
So what this game boils down to is, will Aaron Rodgers and his offense finally start to look like a cohesive unit? For much of the season this unit has been lacking chemistry. The young receivers aren’t meshing well with Rodgers on a consistent basis, and frustration has been building.
Carolina Panthers (-1.5) vs. Cleveland Browns
The Panthers haven’t won in over a month. Four straight losses have slung this championship pretender into the doldrums of the NFC playoff hunt, and at this point it’s going to take some serious doing for Carolina to get in.
Cam Newton has a shoulder injury that might be a problem the rest of the season. As amazing as Christian McCaffrey has been, the offense has struggled to convert fantastic opportunities. Even worse, Carolina’s defense is a shell of its former self, which led to Ron Rivera making wholesale changes to his defensive coaching staff.
On the other side of the field this Sunday is a team that’s been highly competitive all year and has players on both sides of the ball that can give the Panthers trouble. Don’t be surprised if the Browns hand the Panthers their fifth straight loss.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (-3.5)
If the Eagles are going to save themselves the embarrassment of following up a Super Bowl win with a season that doesn’t include a playoff berth, this Sunday’s game in Dallas is a must-win situation.
Philly recently lost by a touchdown to these same ‘Boys, but the Eagles have figured some things out since then. Undrafted rookie running back Josh Adams has emerged as a reliable bell-cow running back to give Carson Wentz the balance he desperately needed. The Eagles offensive line is playing outstanding ball up front. The addition of Golden Tate is finally paying off. The defense is coming off its best game in weeks.
Of course, the Cowboys are playing great, too. It’s going to take nothing less than the Eagles’ best to knock off their rival in Arlington Sunday, but there is reason to believe a win is not only possible, but probable.
Los Angeles Rams (-3) vs. Chicago Bears
This strength-versus-strength matchup pitting the high-powered Rams offense against the dominant Chicago defense is must-see-TV.
The Bears have been outstanding at bringing pressure to opposing quarterbacks, ranking fifth in the league with 37 sacks. Khalil Mack is a nightmare off the edge and is practically unblockable (watch this), and even worse for opposing offenses this defense is dominant against the run, too.
On the other side, Los Angeles has the best defensive player in the league playing the best ball of his career. However, Aaron Donald can’t do it all by himself, and the Rams have given up plenty of offense this year. If Chicago can get Mitch Trubisky on track after he missed time with his injury, then the Bears will celebrate victory No. 9 on the season at Soldier Field this Sunday night.