Dec 4, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan (15) celebrates with quarterback Tom Brady (12) after catching a touchdown during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
With the playoffs right around the corner, there’s plenty of reasons for football fans to be excited about the top games for NFL Week 14.
From two of the hottest teams in the AFC squaring off on Monday night to a few division rivals battling for playoff seeding, NFL Week 14 has plenty of great games for fans to be excited about.
When looking at the amount of times the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots have met in the postseason over the years, one can only imagine what will go down on Monday as these are two of the hottest teams in the AFC at the moment. While the Patriots are on their way to another AFC East title, the Ravens are in a neck-and-neck battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the battle for the AFC North, which means John Harbaugh’s team realizes the importance of this critical matchup.
As for some of the other top games of the weekend, there’s plenty of pressure between the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts with both teams sitting in a three-way tie for first place with the Tennessee Titans entering Sunday. Keep in mind the Colts were on their way to defeating the Texans during the first meeting between these two teams before Indianapolis choked in the final minutes by allowing two touchdowns before losing in overtime.
Let’s not waste any more time and jump right into this week’s edition for the top games of NFL Week 14, starting off with an AFC battle between the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans.
Nov 20, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) runs the ball in the second half of the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indianapolis Colts beat the Tennessee Titans 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
With all of the hype surrounding the Denver Broncos at the beginning of the season for having one of the league’s top defenses, the pressure is sure starting to mount up as this team is 4-4 over their last eight games. Obviously, the quarterback position has been one of the biggest struggles for this team, but the one factor to take away from the last few weeks is the Broncos defense is capable of being beat.
Up next, the defending Super Bowl Champions will take on the Tennessee Titans, who are fighting for a playoff spot of their own as they find themselves in good position to make a run for the AFC South title. Believe it or not, the Titans are in a three-way tie with the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts for first place in the division, which is why Sunday’s game against the Broncos is even more important.
When seeing how tight this division race is turning out, the last thing the Titans can afford to do is fall behind one of the Texans or Colts this late in the season. It’s certainly not going to be easy, but Tennessee has put together some impressive wins this year. Moreover, they will be well rested after their bye week to give them an extra advantage over Denver.
Oct 16, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans inside linebacker Benardrick McKinney (55) tackles Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) from behind during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports
4. Texans vs. Colts
Speaking of the race in the AFC South, there’s nothing the Indianapolis Colts would love more than to take down the Houston Texans to move into first place in the division, especially when seeing how things played when these two rivals met back in Week 6.
In that game, the Colts were on their way to a key victory before the Texans rallied in the final three minutes of regulation by scoring two touchdowns before eventually winning the game in overtime, 26-23. From Indianapolis’ perspective, it was embarrassing to lose this game the way they did when considering how poorly Houston’s offense played for most of the game.
Now, the Texans and Colts will meet for the second time this season as there’s even more meaning behind Sunday’s game. The AFC South may arguably be the weakest division in football, but that doesn’t mean football fans shouldn’t be able to enjoy this race.
If Andrew Luck picks up where he left off in Week 13 after throwing four touchdowns against the New York Jets, the Texans could be in trouble as they enter Sunday’s game losing each of their last three games. Even if there are four games remaining in the regular season, Houston can’t afford to lose a fourth game in a row as they’re already considered one of the biggest disappointments from the 2016 season.
Sep 11, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) dives in for a touchdown against New York Giants free safety Nat Berhe (29) at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports
3. Cowboys vs. Giants
The Dallas Cowboys appear to be the clear favorites in the NFC this late in the season thanks to an 11-game winning streak. But their only loss of the season came opening weekend against the New York Giants. With a rematch between these two NFC East rivals scheduled for Sunday night, one can only hope this game turns out to be just as entertaining as the first time around.
Of course, the circumstances are much different this time around as the Giants will face a much tougher challenge with shutting down the Cowboys offense. Not only is Dak Prescott much more experienced since his last meeting with New York, but Ezekiel Elliott is healthier as well as the rookie running back was dealing with a hamstring injury when these teams met in Week 1.
Up until last weekend, the Giants were one of the hottest teams in football before falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Despite the loss, New York still holds one of the Wild Card spots in the NFC, and has the opportunity to put them in better shape if they can win over Dallas.
If the first matchup is any indication of what to expect, don’t be surprised if this meeting between the Cowboys and Giants ends up being decided in the fourth quarter.
Nov 13, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy talks with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
2. Seahawks vs. Packers
Over the years, the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers have provided fans with some pretty epic battles as there’s every reason to believe the same could happen once again on Sunday. While the Seahawks are in great shape to take home the NFC West title, the Packers are fighting for their playoff lives as Aaron Rodgers and company seem to have turned things around with two-straight wins after losing four in a row.
With that being said, Rodgers will need all of the help he can get from his teammates if Green Bay is going to have any chance of pulling off their third win in a row against Seattle. Even if the Seahawks defense hasn’t looked as dangerous as year’s past, their Week 13 game against the Carolina Panthers is the perfect example of how they’re still capable of shutting down some of the top quarterbacks in the league.
Nothing against the Seahawks, but the one disadvantage they face in this one is they’re not as desperate for a win as the Packers this late in the season. Seattle could easily lose this game and still be in amazing shape to still win their division.
Green Bay, on the other hand, currently sits two games behind the Detroit Lions in the NFC North as another loss would most likely mean this team would have to settle for competing with numerous other teams in the NFC for a Wild Card spot.
Dec 4, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta (88) celebrates with quarterback Joe Flacco (5) and wide receiver Mike Wallace (17) after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
1. Ravens vs. Patriots
When looking back over the last couple of years, it’s safe to say games between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots always end up being a classic. Therefore, the NFL made the right decision by making this the Monday night game for Week 14. Not only have the Ravens emerged as one of the hottest teams in the AFC by winning four of their last five games, but the Patriots enter Monday’s game with a little extra motivation to hang on to the No. 1 seed in the AFC thanks to a Thursday loss by the Oakland Raiders.
Normally, New England seems to have an advantage playing at home in Foxborough, but keep in mind they suffered a surprise loss to the Seattle Seahawks back in the middle of November. Baltimore may not have the most consistent offense in the world, but their defense has proven to be one of the best in the league as they could easily cause all sorts of problems for Tom Brady.
Between almost pulling off a win on the road against the Dallas Cowboys to shutting down one of the most recent hottest teams in football in the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens seem prepared for their upcoming challenge against the Patriots. Who knows, maybe this could turn out to be an early playoff preview if all goes well for Baltimore over the final stretch of the regular season and they find a way to make the postseason.