Mandatory Credit: Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/AP/Shutterstock (13649005ht) San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy (13) celebrates after a touchdown in the third quarter during an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, in Santa Clara, Calif Dolphins 49ers Football, Santa Clara, United States – 04 Dec 2022
NFL Sunday Preview: Jets-Bills, Bucs-49ers highlight pivotal slate of Week 14 games
New York Jets (7-5) at Buffalo Bills (9-3)
Time/TV: noon CT/CBS
Last Sunday’s game in Minnesota left the New York Jets, and their fans wondering what could have been after New York’s close call with a game-winning touchdown fell short in the final seconds. If nothing else, the 7-5 Jets have to be encouraged by quarterback Mike White’s two straight 300-yard passing games as they travel to Buffalo seeking a sweep of the division-leading Bills. The Bills enter Sunday’s game with a rest advantage, having played Thursday Night Football in Week 13 – but for Buffalo, Sunday is about revenge. The Jets topped the Bills 20-17 back on Nov. 6 in large part due to two interceptions by Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen. Allen’s turnovers have been an issue in Buffalo’s losses this season, but he’s cut down on them significantly of late (one interception over the last three games). It is no surprise that the Bills are on a three-game winning streak going into Sunday, and fans at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park would love nothing more than to put the New York Jets in their place.
Cleveland Browns (5-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-4)
Time/TV: noon CT/CBS
The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals last met on Monday Night Football’s Halloween game, when Cleveland dispatched its in-state rival 32-13. The Bengals are now 0-5 against the Browns since drafting Joe Burrow with the top overall pick to play quarterback and have scored 16 points or fewer in three consecutive games in the series. Nick Chubb rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns in that game, controlled in the trenches by Cleveland all night. Cincinnati, now healthier with the return of star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, is hoping to exact revenge. The Bengals haven’t lost since that night, winning four straight, including last Sunday’s victory over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. The biggest change for Cleveland since the last time these teams met has come at quarterback, where Deshaun Watson made his regular season debut last Sunday in Houston after his 11-game suspension. Watson’s first game was a bit of a mess for him individually, but the Browns’ defense dismantled the Texans all afternoon, scoring two touchdowns in addition to Donovan Peoples-Jones’ punt return score. A win would move Cincinnati to 9-4, increasing their chances of taking first place alone from the banged-up Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North.
Minnesota Vikings (10-2) at Detroit Lions (5-7)
Time/TV: noon CT/FOX
The Minnesota Vikings survived a thrilling, last-second comeback attempt from the Jets last week and are now 10-2, all but clinching the NFC North. Minnesota is 9-0 in one-score games, including Week 3’s 28-24 comeback win over the Detroit Lions. This time, the Vikings travel to Detroit for their second divisional matchup with an improving Lions team. Detroit won in dominating fashion last Sunday against Jacksonville, putting up 40 points while outgaining the Jaguars 437-266. Minnesota is only one of two teams remaining on Detroit’s schedule with a winning record, leaving the Lions feeling confident heading down the stretch while battling to get into the playoff hunt. Lions’ quarterback Jared Goff is arguably playing the best football of his career, especially when Detroit plays in front of their home crowd. The Lions average 31.9 points per game at Ford Field and may get twelfth-overall pick Jameson Williams, a speed demon wide receiver from Alabama, onto the field for the first time Sunday.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-8) at Tennessee Titans (7-5)
Time/TV: noon CT/CBS
The Jacksonville Jaguars were thoroughly dominated in Detroit last Sunday, leaving plenty of room for improvement as they face a divisional rival in the Tennessee Titans Sunday afternoon. The Jaguars are a hard team to figure out, mixing impressive victories over the Las Vegas Raiders and Baltimore Ravens with a blowout at the hands of Detroit and a home loss to the lowly Texans. Tennessee welcomes Jacksonville to Nissan Stadium for the first of two divisional matchups during the home stretch of the season and is hoping to recover from an embarrassing loss of its own. The Titans were blown out 35-10 last Sunday in Philadelphia, victimized by former teammate A.J. Brown for two touchdowns. Tennessee has dominated Jacksonville of late, topping the Jaguars five straight times, including two wins by 18 or more points last season. Derrick Henry, who missed the second of the teams’ two matchups last season, is averaging 143 rushing yards per game over his last three starts versus Jacksonville. The Jaguars’ run defense has been above average this season, but might be seeing ghosts with King Henry on the horizon.
Philadelphia Eagles (11-1) at New York Giants (7-4-1)
Time/TV: noon CT/FOX
The New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have both been a major part of the NFC East’s rebirth in 2022, but it is Philadelphia who has been the class of the NFC all season at 11-1. The Eagles have won three straight entering Sunday, including wins by a combined 52 points versus the Titans and Packers over the last two weeks. Philly’s offense is averaging more than 400 yards per game, ranking third in the NFL behind just Kansas City and Buffalo. The New York Giants welcome the Eagles to MetLife Stadium Sunday afternoon hoping for an upset win that would firmly establish their place in the NFC Playoffs. Like Minnesota, New York has thrived in one-score games, going 7-2-1, including thrilling comeback wins versus Baltimore and Tennessee. The Giants have cooled off significantly of late, losing two in a row before their tie with the Washington Commanders last Sunday. A major culprit in New York’s recent struggles has been a drop in production from Saquon Barkley, who is seemingly suffering from a banged-up offense. Barkley’s last three games have seen him average just 41.3 yards rushing and just 2.8 yards per carry, a trend that will have to turn around quickly for the G-Men to have a chance versus Philadelphia.
Baltimore Ravens (8-4) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-7)
Time/TV: noon CT/CBS
The Baltimore Ravens have won five of their last six heading into Sunday’s rivalry battle in Pittsburgh, but certainly don’t feel like a team carrying momentum at the moment. The Ravens lost Lamar Jackson due to injury last Sunday against Denver and needed a furious fourth-quarter comeback to top the putrid Broncos 10-9. Backup quarterback Tyler Huntley filled in as a reasonable facsimile for Jackson in that game, but Baltimore will need to be better on offense in general if they’re to hold off the surging Cincinnati Bengals atop the AFC North standings. The Pittsburgh Steelers have been building momentum in a more positive direction, winning three of four as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett looks more comfortable by the week. Pittsburgh’s back-to-back wins the last two weeks have it sniffing around the outskirts of the AFC playoff hunt once again, and have given Mike Tomlin’s streak of 15 straight seasons without finishing below .500 a chance at potentially surviving once again.
Kansas City Chiefs (9-3) at Denver Broncos (3-9)
Time/TV: 3:05 p.m. CT/CBS
Sunday afternoon’s divisional battle between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos could not bring together two more different teams. Kansas City’s offense averages a league-leading 29.2 points per game versus Denver’s league-worst 13.8, despite both teams being led by probable future Hall-of-Famers under center. Both teams dropped close contests on the road a week ago, but have been moving in different directions all season. The Broncos’ loss to Baltimore was their fourth in a row and eighth in their last nine, while the Chiefs had won five straight in advance of Sunday’s 27-24 defeat in Cincinnati. Kansas City’s season has become less about winning the AFC West division and more about pursuing the AFC’s top seed, which it seems to have the inside path to with only one team over .500 remaining on its schedule. The Chiefs have beaten Denver 13 consecutive times during the regular season, including eight straight times since Patrick Mahomes took over at quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-6) at San Francisco 49ers (4-8)
Time/TV: 3:25 p.m. CT/FOX
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers appeared dead Monday night when they trailed the New Orleans Saints 16-3 with less than four minutes to play. Tom Brady’s offense had struggled all night, and it felt unlikely that they would suddenly shake the cobwebs in time for a fierce comeback. Nonetheless, the Bucs managed two touchdowns in the game’s final moments to secure the 17-16 win, moving them back to .500 and giving them firm control of the NFC South. This week, Tampa Bay faces a much stiffer challenge on the road at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The San Francisco 49ers await, who, despite a first-half injury to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo dominated the division-leading Miami Dolphins last Sunday. Brock Purdy filled in admirably, making the most of the incredible bevy of weapons surrounding him in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The biggest challenge for the Bucs on Sunday will be San Francisco’s defense, which ranks first in the NFL, allowing just 15.8 points per game. The 49ers will be looking for their sixth consecutive win while former seventh-round pick Brock Purdy hopes to prove last Sunday’s performance was not just a flash in the pan.
Carolina Panthers (4-8) at Seattle Seahawks (7-5)
Time/TV: 3:25 p.m. CT/FOX
Not a lot has gone right for the 4-8 Carolina Panthers this season, but their recent stretch of two wins over their last three games has been somewhat encouraging. The Panthers finally got to their bye in Week 13 and should be well-rested as they travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Carolina made the decision to name Sam Darnold the starter at quarterback before their Week 12 game versus Denver, eventually releasing Baker Mayfield in the process. Darnold did what was needed in the Panthers’ win over the Broncos, passing for one touchdown and recovering his own fumble for another en route to a convincing 23-10 win. Carolina’s defense also allowed 15 or fewer points for a third consecutive game. The Panthers have yet to win a game away from home this season. The Seattle Seahawks trail San Francisco by just a game atop the NFC West and have a huge opportunity on deck when the 49ers’ come to Lumen Field Thursday night – but the shine on Thursday’s showdown would dull significantly if Seattle overlooks the Panthers Sunday afternoon.
Miami Dolphins (8-4) at Los Angeles Chargers (6-6)
Time/TV: 7:20 p.m. CT/NBC
The Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers are both licking their wounds after Week 13’s respective losses. Miami stays out west for a second consecutive game after their defeat at San Francisco, hoping to stay within a game of the Bills atop the AFC East before their trip to Buffalo next Sunday. Los Angeles, now just 6-6 after Sunday’s loss to Las Vegas, has struggled to find its footing while dealing with constant injuries to its offense. The Chargers can hardly afford a home loss to Miami if they hope to make the playoffs in the competitive AFC. Miami brings with them a dynamic offense, ranking second in the NFL in passing yards in what has been a breakout season for quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. The Dolphins had scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games before Sunday’s dud in San Francisco, so they will be relishing the opportunity to feast on L.A.’s 30th-ranked scoring defense Sunday night.