NFL Week 14 Preview: Will Shady McCoy Get Revenge Against Chip Kelly?
The playoff picture is starting to come into focus as the NFL begins the final quarter of its 2015 regular season. Here’s a preview of the Week 14 games:
Thursday, December 10
The Cardinals Can Clinch a Playoff Spot
Minnesota at Arizona | U. of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.; 8:25 p.m. (ET) NFL Network
Driven by the NFL’s best offense, the Cardinals have established themselves as one of the NFC’s best teams by virtue of their big wins over the Bengals and Seahawks. Arizona (10–2) can add another signature victory — and assure themselves a playoff spot — by beating Minnesota (8–4) on Thursday night. They can also get in with losses or ties from both the Bucs and Falcons on Sunday.
The Cardinals can clinch the NFC West division title with a win and a Seahawks loss, but Seattle should beat Baltimore this weekend. The Vikings need to forget about last week’s terrible performance against the Seahawks if they want to stay in the NFC North and NFC wild card races.
Sunday, December 13
The Shady McCoy Bowl
Buffalo at Philadelphia | Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
LeSean “Shady” McCoy was a Philadelphia Eagles success story. The team’s 2009 second-round draft pick became the franchise’s leading rusher in 2014 — and then was traded to the Bills by head coach and G.M. Chip Kelly this past off-season. It was as messy as it sounds, especially for the Eagles who have watched both DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews founder in Shady’s place.
This Sunday, McCoy takes on his former team with the hope of helping Buffalo (6–6) stay in the AFC wild card race and nudging Philadelphia (5–7) out of the three-way tie for first place in the pathetic NFC East. The Eagles’ 27th-ranked run defense needs to play over its head if Philly is to keep its playoff hopes alive. McCoy is already pumped for the game. Philly fans, never known for their dispassionate behavior, are too.
The Bengals Can Clinch the AFC North
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati | Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
The Bengals can clinch the AFC North title by beating the rival Steelers on Sunday. Even if they lose to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati (10–2) can claim its fifth consecutive playoff berth as long as the Jets and Chiefs also fall on Sunday. The Bengals beat the Steelers, 16-10, on the road on Nov. 1.
Pittsburgh (7–5) looked like a totally invigorated team on Sunday night, even if they were against the inconsistent Colts. If head coach Mike Tomlin’s team can continue to get great offensive play from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, running back DeAngelo Williams and receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, they could become the team no one wants to face in the postseason.
Don’t Count the Buccaneers Out of the Playoffs
New Orleans at Tampa Bay | Raymond James Stadium, Tampa; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Playoffs for the Buccaneers? Yes, rookie quarterback — and 2015 No. 1–overall draft pick — Jameis Winston has his team in the running for an NFC wild card spot. Tampa Bay (6–6) sits just one game out of the second NFC wild card with a soft schedule down the stretch. The Bucs DO end their season with a trip to Charlotte to face the Panthers, but NFC South-champ Carolina is likely to rest some of its stars that final week.
Before any wild card dreams play out, Winston needs to beat the teams he and Tampa should beat, like the flailing Saints, who are the next-to-worst team in the NFL against the pass. If Winston stays true to his Twitter handle — @Jaboowins — the Buccaneers may have indeed found their franchise quarterback.
The Patriots Try to Stop a Rare Losing Streak & J.J. Watt
New England at Houston | NRG Stadium, Houston; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on NBC
Forget the four Super Bowls, zillion AFC East titles and all of Tom Brady’s passing records, the stat that has to concern the Texans the most this week? “The Patriots have played 213 consecutive games without having a three-game losing streak.”
Losers of their last two games, New England (10–2) should rebound this Sunday night, though they’d likely rather play against a team without a defense led by the comic book character-sized J.J. Watt. Watt has a broken hand, but he will play for Houston (6–6). His pressure on Brady — and the attention the Pats’ makeshift offensive line devotes to it — should greatly affect the outcome of the game. If Brady has time, he should ring up points on the Texans’ secondary.
The Patriots can clinch the AFC East division title with a win and a Jets loss. They can secure a playoff berth with a win or a loss by the Steelers.
Sunday, December 13
Atlanta at Carolina | Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, N.C.; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
San Francisco at Cleveland | FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Detroit at St. Louis | Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Tennessee at N.Y. Jets | MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Indianapolis at Jacksonville | EverBank Field, Jacksonville, Fla.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
San Diego at Kansas City | Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.; 1 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Washington at Chicago | Soldier Field, Chicago; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Seattle at Baltimore | M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore; 1 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Oakland at Denver | Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver; 4:05 p.m. (ET) on CBS
Dallas at Green Bay | Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.; 4:25 p.m. (ET) on Fox
Monday, December 14
N.Y. Giants at Miami | Sun Life Stadium, Miami; 8:30 p.m. (ET) on ESPN