Here is a look at Week 14 in the NFL as the weathers gets cold and the playoff games get hot.
Game of the Week
Seattle Seahawks vs. Green Bay Packers
People ruled out the Packers when they lost four consecutive games and fell to third place in the NFC North. Since losing four straight, the Packers have beaten both the Eagles and Texans to get back to .500.
They are still a great offense and have the ability to put up points in bunches. When the Packers need to get on a run, Aaron Rodgers can will them. He has done it before and can do it again in 2016. Jordy Nelson is also rounding back into form as a dangerous receiver.
The Seahawks have the ability to be the best team in the NFL but they are also the most inconsistent. Two weeks ago, they only managed five points against the Buccaneers in a loss. And last week, they scored 40 against the Panthers in their biggest win of the year. The offense is shaky, but the defense is strong except for the fact that they lost Pro Bowl safety Earl Thomas for the season in their last game with a broken leg. This will be their first game without him and it is uncertain how their team will be after his injury.
Given the Packers’ desperation, I think they will win this game. It is very difficult to win at Lambeau Field and Rodgers has an incredible record with the Packers in December. This is the time of the year when Rodgers shines, and he should lead Green Bay to their third consecutive victory.
Green Bay 29, Seattle 23
Upset of the Week
Arizona Cardinals over Miami Dolphins
This is a very important game for both teams and Miami is the home team but there is reason to believe that the Cardinals can pull off the upset.
At 5-6-1, the Cardinals need to win out if they want a chance at the postseason, but a win against the playoff-contending Redskins was a good start and it proves that the Cardinals are still very talented. If any team can pull a December run out of a hat, it is Bruce Arians and the Arizona Cardinals. David Johnson is one of the few running backs in the NFL that can take control of a game by himself. If he does that, the Cardinals have good chances to win.
Miami’s offense has also been improving lately because of the success of breakout second-year running back Jay Ajayi, but the Cardinals are very good at defending the run, second in the league in yards allowed. If Arizona stops Ajayi, they will have to count on Jarvis Landry, who will be covered by Patrick Peterson, one of the league’s best cornerbacks.
Miami is very capable of winning this game, but Arizona is the more talented team in this game. A loss would significantly hurt Miami’s playoff chances, so this game is very important for them as well. Last week, the Dolphins proved that they are not quite there as a playoff team when they got blown out by the Ravens. This week, they will prove the same against the Cardinals.
Arizona 28, Miami 16
Fantasy Start of the Week
Bills RB LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy faces off against the Steelers this week, which means he will face off against Le’Veon Bell in what is one of the best running back matchups this season. McCoy has gotten double-digit fantasy points in each of the last four games and he has eclipsed that mark in nine of the 11 games in which he has played in. He’s a must start this week because the Steelers are not very good against the run, and the Bills have been a very run-heavy team this season. They are going to continue working with what they know as they need this game to stay in the playoff hunt. McCoy is going to put the team on his back and win or lose, he will be a big part of the offense.
Fantasy Sit of the Week
Giants RB Rashad Jennings
All season, Jennings has been a part of a murky Giants backfield. Recently, he has been losing carries to fifth-round rookie Paul Perkins. Now, he’s got his teammate Shane Vereen back and he will take some of his carries and snaps as well. He only has two touchdowns this season and he only had six carries last week in a loss to Pittsburgh. He was out-carried by Perkins and he only had 19 yards. This week against the Cowboys, one of the best run defenses in the league, they are likely to be trailing and will have to pass the ball more often. There is a very small chance Jennings will have a big game and in the fantasy playoffs, you cannot take a chance on a below average player.
Fantasy Pick-up of the Week
Steelers TE Ladarius Green
The tight end position can make or break a playoff matchup because there are few tight ends that consistently contribute. Green was on the PUP list and missed the first nine games of the season. In the last three games, he has been a big part of the offense and last week, he had his best game of the season as he scored a touchdown. Green has a good chance to be another weapon for the high octane Steelers offense and he has a favorable matchup against the Bills this week. The tight end is the toughest spot in the lineup and if you have been having tight end trouble, taking a flier on Green could be worth it.
Lock of the Week
Detroit Lions over Chicago Bears
Even though the Bears got a win last week, there is no comeback for Chicago. They are going on the road to face a team that has already beaten them once this year and a division leader.
If everything goes right this week, the Lions can be up three games in their division this week and could have the chance to clinch the division with one more win. This would require a win and a loss from Minnesota and Green Bay. A lot of variables are in this scenario but the Lions still have a good chance to make it to the playoffs. At 8-4, a win for them is not necessary, but it would certainly be welcome.
This is an important game for the Lions because this is their last gimme game. After this week, they have to face the Giants and Cowboys on the road and have to come home to play the Packers in Week 17. They are going to take advantage of a game against a Matt Barkley-led 3-10 Bears team that has no chance of making the playoffs.
The Lions are a very solid team. They should make the playoffs and give a team a good run for their money. It’s very possible for them to go to Dallas or Seattle and win. This is a sleeper team that can make some noise come January and they will prove that this weekend against the Bears.
Detroit 34, Chicago 17
Buzzer’s Best Bet
Jim Buzinski’s picks of the week
Texans plus 6.5 at Colts
The Texans are 1-13 all time in Indianapolis and 0-3 vs. Andrew Luck and 1-5 on the road this year. Luck and the Colts are the best team in a weak division.
Last week: 0-1. Season: 6-6-1
Jeremy Brener is a student at the University of Central Florida who writes a weekly NFL column for Outsports. He can be reached via email (email@example.com) and followed on Twitter.
Hot Player of the Week
Raiders QB Derek Carr
Carr has led the Raiders from the cellar of the NFL to the penthouse. Even with the loss to the Chiefs on Thursday, the Raiders are still tied for first. Carr is an MVP candidate and a Hot Player of the Year candidate this season.