Welcome to Week 14 gang. We’re deep within the race to the playoffs and all the things is in flux. At this level we have now the highest of the conferences kind of set, with some minor modifications probably occurring — however we all know who the elite are.
The massive shift has been with once-dominant groups now struggling to search out their footing once more, risking tumbling out of the playoffs all collectively. In the meantime bubble groups are enjoying among the finest ball within the league, and seeking to discover a manner in.
Will the Payments proceed their plummet?
Buffalo has misplaced three of its final 5 video games in opposition to a schedule that has not been tremendously troublesome. The Payments have gone from absolute locks to win the AFC East, to seeing the Patriots problem them, now they’re trying up as they sit seventh within the convention with an rising danger they might be bounced out of the playoffs all collectively.
To make issues worse, this week the Payments face the Buccaneers, of their largest check subsequent to a second recreation in opposition to the Patriots. The alarming factor in regards to the Buffalo protection is that they have been ready for Invoice Belichick and the Patriots to run the ball all recreation, however merely couldn’t cease them. Now they’re going through Tom Brady and the most effective passing assaults within the NFL, so it’s one other defensive check.
Deep down I do know the Payments are adequate to make the playoffs, and certain make one other deep run. Nonetheless, this group wants to cease beating itself and get again to exhibiting the potential many believed might carry them to a Super Bowl look this season.
Is Washington able to contend?
The Washington Football Team has been a shiny spot within the second half of the season. Ron Rivera’s group continues to be enjoying arduous, and proving to be a extremely troublesome struggle for any group they face.
What I’ve seen with Washington is that they have an inclination to play up and right down to their competitors. This isn’t an amazing high quality to have, however while you’re going through the Cowboys in Week 14 it actually makes the sport extra attention-grabbing.
It could take one thing ridiculous occurring to cease Dallas from successful the AFC East, however Washington could be very a lot ready the place they will earn a wild card. A win in opposition to Dallas might present that this group is greater than a one-and-done when the playoffs start.
How will the Panthers take care of their bye week?
It’s previous time to place a fork within the Panthers season, however that didn’t cease Carolina do main retooling forward of the bye week. Head coach Matt Rhule relieved offensive coordinator Joe Brady of his duties, making Brady the sacrificial lamb for lots of the group’s issues.
At this level it’s protected to say Carolina has a Rhule drawback, and it certain looks like he’s making an attempt to rearrange deck chair on the Titanic to show he’s the coach the group hoped he’d be. Whereas I’m extraordinarily skeptical the change will assist, it will likely be attention-grabbing to see how the Panthers reply.
Rhule reportedly desires to see the offensive run the ball extra, which is a curious choice when Christian McCaffrey is on IR. This week it’s a divisional recreation in opposition to the Falcons, and a foul loss might expedite bigger modifications for the Panthers.
Can the Bengals bounce again?
Cincinnati’s wild inconsistency echoes all the things that’s mistaken with the AFC this season. Simply after I’ve been able to imagine Joe Burrow and Co. could make a big impact within the playoffs, they arrive out and play extremely flat soccer.
The offensive energy we’ve seen from the Bengals evaporated of their Week 13 loss to the Chargers, now they play the 49ers in one other troublesome recreation. San Francisco making an attempt to maintain their slender grasp on a playoff spot, and now so are the Bengals.
It is a intestine test week for Cincinnati, who must show they will reply to adversity if they’ve any hopes of taking the subsequent step as a group.