The Indianapolis Colts have won 16 consecutive games against AFC South opponents. Indianapolis enters its Week 14 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars tied for first place in the division with the Houston Texans. With Houston set to host the New England Patriots on Sunday night, this week offers the Colts a prime opportunity to take control of the playoff race with yet another divisional victory.
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Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Thomas Rawls has rushed for 712 yards in his first six starts. That's the most by a former undrafted free agent since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Rawls has already faced AFC North foes in the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers and amassed 250 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries. He may beat up on the Baltimore Ravens this weekend.
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Aside from being depleted on offense, the New England Patriots have dealt with a great deal of inconsistency on their offensive line. Nate Solder’s season-ending injury hurt the group, and they haven’t seemed to recover since then. Over the past four games, quarterback Tom Brady has weathered 11 sacks, seven of whch have come in back-to-back losses. The Patriots will need to do a better job protecting Brady, especially considering his shortage of receiving options.
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The New Orleans Saints have given up an incredible 36.5 points per game during their four-game losing streak. Over that span, three different opponents have put up 34 or more points. The Saints' worst defensive performance came three weeks ago, when the Washington Redskins beat them by a score of 47-14. If New Orleans can’t figure out an answer defensively, it’s going to be a rough final four games of the 2015 season.
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For the second time in three weeks, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton threw five touchdown passes in a single game. Some have argued in the past that Newton isn’t a strong passer, but it’s hard to argue with his recent success. Can he keep up the impressive touchdown total with a tough game against a strong Atlanta Falcons secondary in Week 14? If so, there’s a strong chance the Panthers will move one step closer to an undefeated regular season.
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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is bucking the narrative that he's prone to turnovers. Although he threw a pick-six against the San Francisco 49ers last week, Cutler is only throwing interceptions on 1.9 percent of his pass attempts this season. That's on pace for the lowest rate of his career. Clean play will be key for the Bears to beat the Washington Redskins on Sunday.
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The Washington Redskins’ defense allows 71.6 plays per game when they’re on the road (most in NFL). When at home, the defense has only allowed 55.4 plays per game (fewest in NFL). The stark contrast explains the team’s 0-5 record on the road. In Week 14, the Redskins head to Chicago to take on a tough Bears team, and they'll likely be without several key defensive linemen. Washington must control the ball on offense in order to keep its defense off the field.
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The Buffalo Bills have displayed a great ability to take care of the football this season, committing just 14 turnovers in 12 games. In five of those games, they didn’t turn the ball over once, tying a franchise record. A big reason for that is the fact that Tyrod Taylor has thrown just four interceptions in his first year as a starting quarterback in the NFL. They can break the franchise record with a turnover-less game against the Philadelphia Eagles this weekend.
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San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is second in the NFL in passing yards, but it’s amazing enough that he’s able to stand upright. This is the sixth consecutive season in which the Chargers’ star quarterback has been sacked at least 30 times. That just shouldn’t happen in a Mike McCoy offense designed around Rivers' quick release. In Week 14, he’ll likely take a few more big hits against a Kansas City Chiefs defense that ranks fifth in the NFL in total sacks (34.0).
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The New York Giants have been up and down against the run this season, but in Week 13 they held the New York Jets to just 3.8 yards per carry. In Week 14, the Giants will need another strong effort from their run defense against a Miami Dolphins team that is as run-first as it gets under new offensive coordinator Zac Taylor. In Week 13, Taylor’s first game calling the offense, the Dolphins ran the ball 26 times and attempted just 19 passes. Lead back Lamar Miller racked up 113 yards on just 20 carries.