NFL – Week 14 Preview
There are some big games on the slate in Week 14 and a few of the leading teams can book playoff spots this weekend with the Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers able to reserve their places for the postseason party. There is much to play for across the board with pretty much the entire league still alive in the playoff race. Here are three games we simply must pay attention to.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Football Team… Is the NFC East up for grabs?
The Cowboys will travel to America’s capital with the number one offense in the NFL in their arsenal. But they will be facing a defense that has woken up over the past month, during which time Washington have put together a four-game winning streak.
That winning run for the Football Team – coupled with the Cowboys two of their last three – has tightened things up in the NFC East. Dallas lead the way with an 8-4 record but 6-6 Washington very much control their own destiny. Their final five games are all within the division and include meetings with Dallas on Sunday and on December 26.
While the Cowboys can hardly be trusted given their recent run of form, I think they have too much firepower for the Taylor Heinicke-led Washington attack to keep pace.
Quick Stats on Dallas at Washington
- Before injuring his calf on the final play of a Week 6 win over New England, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott went 5-1, averaged 302 passing yards per game, threw 16 touchdowns to four interceptions and posted a rating of 115.0. Since that injury, he has gone 2-3, thrown for 271 yards per outing with seven touchdowns, four picks and a rating of 87.4.
- The Cowboys are loaded with offensive stars in quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and receivers Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. But since 2020, that group has been active at the same time in just eight games.
- During Washington’s four-game winning streak, quarterback Taylor Heinicke has posted the league’s third-best passer rating with a mark of 110.0. He also boasts the NFL’s third-best pass completion percentage with 77.3.
Buffalo Bills at Tampa Bay Buccaneers… Another big test for the reeling Bills
The Buffalo Bills had the NFL world at their feet in October after they recorded a comprehensive victory over Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium to move to 4-1. The football world was proclaiming them as the best team in the NFL.
Since then, the Bills have alternated losses and wins for seven weeks in a row. They have gone 3-4 and their most recent defeat came at home in a real-life wind tunnel against the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football.
The big tests keep on coming for the Bills. Tampa Bay have won three in a row and will seriously test Buffalo’s top-ranked D. The Bucs have scored at least 30 points in seven of their 12 games this year. Afte the Bucs, the Bills get Carolina at home and then visit the Patriots again on Boxing Day.
Quick Stats on Bills at Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady leads the NFL with 3,771 passing yards and 34 touchdown passes this season. The 44-year-old is not entirely perfect, though, throwing at least one interception in five straight games.
- Brady has a career record of 32-3 against Buffalo and he is 3-0 in head-to-head meetings with Bills QB Josh Allen. Brady is also a perfect 5-0 at home this season. Tampa Bay have not lost at home since Week 12 of 2020, when they fell to Kansas City on November 29.
- Buffalo’s defense ranks first in total yards allowed, giving up just 272 per week. They also rank as the best pass defense in the NFL, conceding just 165 yards per game. The Bills boast the second-ranked scoring defense in the league, allowing just 16.3 points per game.
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals… Can the Rams keep division race alive?
This game is essentially for the division from an Arizona Cardinals point of view. The Cards up on the Rams by two games with five to play and have already won the first meeting between these teams in LA. Win this one and the Cards pretty much have the NFC West wrapped up.
Arizona got Kyler Murray back from a three-game ankle-injury layoff last week and even though he accounted for four touchdowns – two passing and two rushing – it was the defense that starred in a routine win in Chicago.
The Rams got back on track with a win over Jacksonville but that is not really an indicator that the woes they showed during a three-game losing streak have been fixed. This will be a real test of where the Rams are as Super Bowl contenders as we head down the stretch.
Quick Stats on Rams at Cardinals
- The 10-2 Cardinals are looking to win 11 games in a season for just the sixth time in the history of a franchise that began playing in the NFL’s inaugural year in 2020. The other 11-win campaigns came in 1925, 1948, 1975, 2014 and 2015.
- Kyler Murray leads the NFL with a quarterback rating of 112.2 this season. LA’s Matthew Stafford is ranked joint-second along with Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins with a rating of 106.3.
- The Rams are 7-0 when Matthew Stafford has a quarterback rating of 100 or above this season. But when he dips below that number, LA have a mark of just one win and four losses.