Bears vs Rams : Week 14 in the NFL got off to a thunderous start thanks to a game for the ages from Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry.
The third-year pro rushed for 238 yards and four touchdowns in the Titans’ 30-9 win over the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. The centerpiece of Henry’s performance was a 99-yard touchdown rumble in the second quarter.
If Henry does nothing else of note in his career, he will still be remembered for that run. He did more than just cover himself in glory, however. The performance helped move the Titans to 7-6 on the season, putting them in position for a playoff push down the stretch.
The wild-card chase and the jockeying for divisional supremacy will be top of mind in most contests. Only a handful of teams are out of contention with four gameweeks to go, and Week 14 features several pivotal matchups.
In the AFC, the wild-card race is the one to watch. Sure, the Los Angeles Chargers are on the heels of the Kansas City Chiefs, but the former have a tough schedule to close out the season; Week 14’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals is by far the easiest of the bunch.
The New England Patriots are doing as New England does, and the Houston Texans are on a nine-game winning streak and should be able to hold it together because they don’t play any team with a record above .500 to close out the year.
The AFC North remains interesting, with the Pittsburgh Steelers in front but wavering after a crushing 33-30 loss to the Chargers in Week 13. The Baltimore Ravens are in the sixth seed and a half-game back. Lamar Jackson needs plenty of work as a passer, but his ability to run the ball adds a fresh dimension to the Ravens offense to go along with their typically stout defense.
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At 9-3, the Chargers appear to have one wild-card spot locked up, but if they slip up against the Bengals, then there’s trouble, as they close out with the Chiefs, Ravens and a resurgent Denver Broncos team.
The Broncos started off the year 2-4 but are back in the thick of things. Bradley Chubb (10 sacks) is a dynamic pass-rusher, and there would already be talk of him as Von Miller’s successor if the eight-year pro weren’t having another fantastic year himself (12.5 sacks).
DENVER, CO – NOVEMBER 25: Outside linebacker Bradley Chubb #55 of the Denver Broncos stands on the field during player introductions before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on November 25, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (
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With Phillip Lindsay proving to be a gem of a running back (a staggering 6.1 yards per carry this season), the Broncos could easily go 4-0 down the stretch with the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Chargers on the slate.
If just a few games break the right way, the AFC West could have three teams in the playoffs.
As for the NFC, it’s looking like it will be a furious finish. The Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings occupy the wild-card spots, but the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants and Detroit Lions all have at least four wins.
No one is out of this yet, but a few Week 14 contests should prove decisive.
Minnesota is away against Seattle on Monday night, and the loser of that game could well find themselves on the outside looking in, pending the results of the other contests.
Carolina is reeling after losing four in a row but can get back on track with a win over the Clevelnad Browns on Sunday.
The Panthers have responded to the tough month by firing two defensive coaches and giving head coach Ron Rivera defensive play-calling duties, per the Charlotte Observer’s Marcel Louis-Jacques and Jourdan Rodrigue. In addition to stability on defense, Carolina will be looking for a bounce-back game from quarterback Cam Newton, who threw four interceptions in the team’s Week 13 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
TAMPA, FL – DECEMBER 02: Quarterback Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers drops back to pass in the second half of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Tampa,
A big make-or-break game on Sunday is between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. Both teams have just four wins and are desperately clinging to postseason hopes. The Packers will be playing their first game under interim head coach Joe Philbin after the firing of Mike McCarthy, who coached the team for 12-plus seasons, including a Super Bowl-winning campaign in 2010.
Several other NFC teams are clinging to life in Week 14, but once the day is done, the playoff picture should be much clearer. Eight or nine might do it in that conference; a few teams will know whether that’s a possibility soon.