With Week 13 of the NFL season over with, we’ve now hit the final quarter of the season and things about about to get nuts across the league. Just not in Cleveland, San Francisco, New York (Jets, that is), Jacksonville, Carolina, Los Angeles and Arizona.
The 2016 NFL season started off rough with protests and low ratings but now the season is in gear and now the leagues 32 teams are going down the stretch and we have four weeks left in the season. Four weeks for teams to either fly high into the playoffs, or meltdown in agony as the the chase for Lombardi reaches the playoffs.
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When looking at the NFL schedule, the slate really opens up for some great games that will have an impact on the playoff race and so much more. Even stating this Thursday, the week kicks off with a huge divisional and conference matchup with rivals that go back to the AFL.
November 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) is congratulated by Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) after the game at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs 24-20. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Week 14’s Biggest Games
Raiders at Chiefs (Thursday Night Football 8:00 EST NBC)
The Raiders and Chiefs have been doing battle since their days in the American Football League. Now, in 2016 the two longtime rivals will play one of the series biggest games in decades. The winner has a leg up in the AFC West and pending on what happens with the New England Patriots, it’s possible that the road in the AFC may go through one of these two cities as well as Foxboro.
Seahawks at Packers (4:25 EST on FOX)
The Seattle Seahawks have a clear path to the No. 2 seed in the NFC and could help that cause if they defeat the Green Bay who are now in survival mode as they try to chase down the Detroit Lions in the NFC North. Seattle has struggled in Green Bay and a win there would surely be the springboard to a team that can for sure go on the road and win in Dallas come late January.
Cowboys at Giants (Sunday Night Football 8:30 EST NBC)
Plenty of things will be on the line for the Cowboys and Giants when they kick off on Sunday night. It’s possible the NFC East will be wrapped up if the Dallas Cowboys go to MetLife Stadium and beat the Giants. If the Giants win, they will prolong the NFC East another week and could throw a monkey wrench into the NFC Playoff picture that seems to take twists and turns each week.
Oct 23, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) pumps his fist during the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at Ford Field. Lions won 20-17. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Lions at Giants (Noon EST FOX)
The Detroit Lions and New York Giants are like two stock cars that have gone around the track for so long and now running out of steam during the final laps. No playoff spots are on the line but the pecking order for the NFC Playoff will change from it. While both teams appear to be headed towards Wildcard weekend, the loser of the game will be in more danger of losing a playoff spot all together.
Patriots at Broncos (4:24 EST CBS)
New England can separate themselves from the rest of the pack for another week with a win in Denver. The Broncos will be playing to keep pace with the Chiefs and Raiders, meanwhile trying to fix their sluggish offense. While it may not be Brady vs Manning, you can be sure the Broncos defense won’t give Tom Brady a chance to get the win in Denver.
Buccaneers at Cowboys (Sunday Night Football 8:30 EST NBC)
In a game that was just flexed over the weekend, the Cowboys and Bucs will go at it on Sunday Night Football a week before Christmas. This is a fun matchup that could give the Cowboys home field advantage in the playoffs with a win. For Tampa Bay, to keep pace with Atlanta will needed their dynamic duo of Jameis Winston and Mike Evans to come up big in their first big primetime game.
Nov 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos (5) attempts a field goal against the Denver Broncos in overtime at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Chiefs defeated the Broncos 30-27 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Vikings at Packers (Saturday Noon EST FOX)
When the Vikings stunned the Packers in week two, it was the springboard to the Vikings hot start. They’ve since cooled and now it’s the Packers who appear to be making a run in the NFC North. While Green Bay may not catch Detroit, they sure can catch the Vikings and it’s possible that this may be the day it happens.
Ravens at Steelers (Sunday 4:30 EST NFL Network)
The AFC North usually produces 2-3 playoff teams each season. This season it will give us one, the Ravens traveling to Pittsburgh will settle a lot of the dust in the AFC North. A Baltimore sweep in Pittsburgh will be one of the bigger shocks this season and might be just enough to hand the Ravens the AFC North Title.
Broncos at Chiefs (Sunday Night Football 8:30 EST NBC)
The first one will go down as one of the best games in all of 2016, can the second one be just as good? Possibly but it will be hard to match the drama and suspense of a game that announced the Kansas City Chiefs as legit contenders in the AFC. All goal posts will be on alert for any shenanigans that could take place, again.
Dec 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws a hail mary during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Packers win 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
(Due to the NFL’s Week 17 flexing rules times are all set at noon EST)
Packers at Lions (Noon EST FOX)
It’s poetic and fitting really, one of 2015’s best games and most heartbreaking moments for the Detroit Lions might end up being the sweetest revenge. It’s quite possible that the Lions could knock out the Green Bay Packers out of the playoffs with a win and clinch the NFC North all in the same game. It could also be the last game for Packers head coach Mike McCarthy if he can’t get the job done vs. Detroit.
Patriots at Dolphins (Noon EST CBS)
Miami has always been a house of horrors for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. For some reason, things always get a little weird down there. I expect this season to be no different as the Patriots are clinging to a slim margin in the battle for home field advantage in the playoffs. At the same time, the Miami Dolphins are battling for their playoff lives and this game could determine the fate of each. Do not be shocked if this game or the next game on our list are two games that will end up on Sunday Night Football to wrap the season.
Giants at Redskins (Noon EST FOX)
Yes, a late season game involving the NFC East. I know you’re shocked. However, something may be on the line this time. Like the final spot on the NFC side of the 2016 playoff bracket. This has all the makings of a Sunday night in DC as either Eli or Kirk welcomes 2017 in with a bang and the winner reaches Wildcard weekend while the loser has to deal with the struggle of missing the playoffs. Yes, please.