Welcome to Week 14 gang. We’re deep within the race to the playoffs and all the pieces is in flux. At this level we have now the highest of the conferences roughly set, with some minor adjustments doubtlessly occurring — however we all know who the elite are.
The large 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 a number of the finest ball within the league, and trying to discover a method 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 wanting up as they sit seventh within the convention with an growing threat they could possibly be bounced out of the playoffs all collectively.
To make issues worse, this week the Payments face the Buccaneers, of their greatest take a look at subsequent to a second recreation in opposition to the Patriots. The alarming factor concerning the Buffalo protection is that they had been ready for Invoice Belichick and the Patriots to run the ball all recreation, however merely couldn’t cease them. Now they’re dealing with Tom Brady and top-of-the-line passing assaults within the NFL, so it’s one other defensive take a look at.
Deep down I do know the Payments are adequate to make the playoffs, and sure make one other deep run. Nonetheless, this staff wants to cease beating itself and get again to displaying the potential many believed may carry them to a Tremendous Bowl look this season.
Is Washington able to contend?
The Washington Soccer Workforce has been a vivid spot within the second half of the season. Ron Rivera’s staff continues to be enjoying laborious, and proving to be a extremely troublesome combat for any staff they face.
What I’ve observed with Washington is that they have an inclination to play up and all the way down to their competitors. This isn’t an awesome high quality to have, however whenever you’re dealing with the Cowboys in Week 14 it definitely makes the sport extra fascinating.
It might take one thing ridiculous taking place to cease Dallas from profitable the AFC East, however Washington may be very a lot able the place they’ll earn a wild card. A win in opposition to Dallas may present that this staff 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 most of the staff’s issues.
At this level it’s protected to say Carolina has a Rhule drawback, and it positive appears like he’s making an attempt to rearrange deck chair on the Titanic to show he’s the coach the staff hoped he’d be. Whereas I’m extraordinarily skeptical the change will assist, will probably be fascinating to see how the Panthers reply.
Rhule reportedly needs to see the offensive run the ball extra, which is a curious determination when Christian McCaffrey is on IR. This week it’s a divisional recreation in opposition to the Falcons, and a foul loss may expedite bigger adjustments for the Panthers.
Can the Bengals bounce again?
Cincinnati’s wild inconsistency echoes all the pieces that’s flawed with the AFC this season. Simply after I’ve been able to consider 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 verify week for Cincinnati, who must show they’ll reply to adversity if they’ve any hopes of taking the subsequent step as a staff.