It's hard to zero in on just one game that means the most in Week 14 of the NFL season.
Given the option to pick just one game, it would be the Saints/Falcons duel on NFL Thursday night. The defending NFC champs are facing the reality of the curse of the Super Bowl losers. A loss in this game, and the road to the playoffs is going to be murky at best. A win, and there's still a chance for Atlanta to get all the way up to the No. 1 seed in the conference with some help.
For the Saints, this game is about putting a stamp on the NFC South. It isn't a must-win with Atlanta coming back to the Bayou in two weeks, but you'd like to think that a split in this series is a must to both fend off Atlanta and Carolina.
Once New Orleans is done on Thursday, it will kick back and scoreboard watch on Sunday. If the Saints win, they'll be particularly interested in what the other three division leaders in the NFC are up to.
Two of them, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, are set to play against each other at the Coliseum. The Eagles were just handed their second loss of the season at the hands of the Seahawks, and the last thing they want to do is come back from their 10-day West Coast swing with triple the number of losses they had when they left. A win for the Rams would keep the pressure on the Seahawks, who have a big game in their own right at Jacksonville in Week 14.
The Vikings and Panthers are set to meet in another potential NFC playoff showdown in Week 14 as well. Minnesota at least has to feel good in that, its magic number to win the NFC North is just one. That said, the Vikings are hoping to nail down that first-round bye in the playoffs. Carolina probably needs to win out to win the NFC South, and even that might not be enough. The Panthers should be far more worried about what's behind them (we're looking at you, Atlanta) than what's ahead of them (New Orleans).
Over in the AFC, the biggest game of the week is the NFL Sunday nighter between the Ravens and Steelers. Pittsburgh still has its sights set on the No. 1 seed in the conference, but it has to take care of business and finish off the AFC North first. A win over the Ravens would do just that, though a loss, and things could get particularly hairy down the stretch.
Mean While, the defending Super Bowl champions get a nice break from the cold winter of New England when they travel south to take on the Miami Dolphins for Monday Night Football. Miami has fared much better against New England than the rest of the league, having won three of its last four home games against the Pats.
New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons - 8:25 p.m. ET (NBC)
Opening Line: Falcons -2, O/U 55
Preview: The season is arguably on the line in Week 14 for the Atlanta Falcons. They're stuck in tiebreaker hell for the most part, and they not be able to lose a game for the rest of the year and live to tell about it. It's a bad time to be welcoming to town one of the hottest teams in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints. Continue...
Detroit Lions at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Check Back Later
Preview: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers watched this season get away from them in a hurry. They really don't have anything left to play for at this point save for some pride, but if we're being honest, they'd be a lot better served losing to the Detroit Lions in Week 14 and hoping to nail down a top-five pick in the NFL Draft to help continue to build around Jameis Winston. Continue...
Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals - 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Bengals -7
Preview: Time is running out on the Cincinnati Bengals. They're not eliminated from the playoffs quite yet, but if they don't win each of their last four games, they're certainly going to be left on the outside.
Is Marvin Lewis coaching for his job against the Chicago Bears this week? Lewis won't be fired after this game is over with, but this could be his final death knell after one of the longest tenures for a coach in recent memory. Continue...
Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills - 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Opening Line: Check Back Later
Preview: We're not sure if Sean McDermott should be Coach of the Year in the NFL or on his way to the unemployment line. On one hand, he's led the Buffalo Bills to a 6-6 record through three-quarters of the season, and he's done so without any legitimate quarterback play whatsoever. On the other hand, the Bills have had their doors blown off more times than we can count by suspect teams, and they don't feel like one of the 20 best teams in the NFL. Continue...
Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs - 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Opening Line: Chiefs -4.5, O/U 47.5
Preview: The Kansas City Chiefs were the last undefeated team standing in the NFL this year at 5-0. Now, they're sitting at 6-6 and are going to be in a huge fight to win the AFC West. Fortunately for them, this division has been a wreck all season long. That said, if they lose again to the Oakland Raiders, they can probably kiss any chances of reaching the postseason goodbye. Continue...
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers - 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Vikings -1, O/U 42
Preview: What more do the Minnesota Vikings have to do to get the full respect of the best NFL sportsbooks? They've won eight games in a row after starting at 2-2, and four of their last five games have been on the road. They've beaten the Rams, Lions and Falcons in their last three games, and now, they draw the Carolina Panthers in what will be their last truly tough test of the season in all likelihood. Continue...
Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns - 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Packers -4, O/U 39.5
Preview: The Green Bay Packers may have gotten their lifeline. They're pointing at a Week 15 return for Aaron Rodgers, meaning they just have to get through one more game with Brett Hundley under center. Continue...
San Francisco 49ers at Houston Texans - 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Texans -1, O/U 43
Preview: The San Francisco 49ers appear to finally have a quarterback once again.
Jimmy Garoppolo played relatively well in his first start with the Niners, and he already has the same number of wins this season as the rest of their quarterbacks combined. There's a good chance Garoppolo makes it two-for-two in Week 14 when San Francisco travels to the struggling Houston Texans. Continue...
Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants - 1 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Cowboys -6, O/U 41
Preview: The New York Giants don't have a lot left to play for in 2017, but the one thing they definitely can do is spoil the rest of the campaign for the teams in the NFC East.
First up is the Dallas Cowboys, a team sitting at 6-6 that is still on the fringes of the NFC playoff race. The Giants can end Dallas' playoff dreams with an upset in the Meadowlands, but motivation is going to be a big factor for the hosts. Continue...
Washington Redskins at Los Angeles Chargers - 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Opening Line: Chargers -7, O/U 46
Preview: Oh, how the Washington Redskins wished they played in the AFC West right now! The Skins would be right in the thick of the fight for their division title just as the Los Angeles Chargers are at this point.
Alas, good fortune that has been much overdue for the Bolts has put them in a prime position to win this division with four games remaining, and they're going to be heavy favorites to not blow this one against the visiting 'Skins. Continue...
New York Jets at Denver Broncos - 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
Opening Line: Broncos -1, O/U 40.5
Preview: Did you ever think at the start of the season that the New York Jets would be favored on the road against the Denver Broncos in Week 14? We're not quite there at this point, but depending upon the quarterback situation in Mile High this week, there's a decent chance the Jets will ultimately go off the board as the betting choices against a team that has been a perennial Super Bowl contender over the course of the last several seasons. Continue...
Tennessee Titans at Arizona Cardinals - 4:05 p.m. ET
Opening Line: Titans -3.5, O/U 44.5
Preview: The Arizona Cardinals have officially been reduced to the role of spoiler this season.
A week after losing to Los Angeles to end any hope it had of capturing a playoff spot in the NFC, the Cardinals will take on the Tennessee Titans, who are probably just two wins away from wrapping up a playoff spot in the AFC. Continue...
Seattle Seahawks at Jacksonville Jaguars - 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Jaguars -3.5, O/U 39.5
Preview: The Seattle Seahawks proved that they were still absolutely among the NFL's elites last week when they beat the Eagles. They've still got a lot of work to do this year just to sew up a playoff spot, though, and that includes what feels like it's a must-win game on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14. Continue...
Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams - 4:25 p.m. ET (FOX)
Opening Line: Rams -1, O/U 51
Preview: There are still six teams who legitimately could finish with the No. 1 seed in the NFC with four weeks left in the season. The Philadelphia Eagles are still the frontrunners at the moment, but should they lose a second straight game at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14, they'll cede that spot and could have to win a couple road games if they want to get to the Super Bowl out of the NFC. Continue...
Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers - 8:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Opening Line: Check Back Later
Preview: An enormous battle is set to do down on Sunday Night Football in Week 14 when the Baltimore Ravens invade Heinz Field to close their regular season rivalry out with the hated Pittsburgh Steelers. John Harbaugh’s squad needs this game badly to keep its grasp of one of the wild-card slots, while Mike Tomlin’s troops need to come out on top in order to set up the battle for AFC supremacy that’s set to go down versus New England next week. Continue...
New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins - 8:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Opening Line: Patriots -12, O/U 48.5
Preview: South Beach has been a thorn in the side of the New England Patriots for a number of years. They had been beaten in three straight road games against the Miami Dolphins before last year's blowout at Hard Rock Stadium. Now, the Fins are going to hope to pull off a massive upset and shock the Pats on Monday Night Football to keep their playoff hopes alive in the AFC. Continue...
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